Decorating your home, condo or flat does not have to cost an arm and a leg anymore. Here are a few ways to create a big splash with small cash.
MOOD LIGHTING – if a client tells me they have a tight budget my go-to is to create a personalized look with carefully curated floor lamps and table lamps to provide mood lighting around the room. If you are undertaking a makeover of your home or just entertaining some friends for the evening, forget everything else – go straight for a couple of lamps placed around the room, with the light source at different heights, add candles and voila! Instant coziness combined with instant glam!
Lighting will do a ton towards making an average room go from meh to magical in minutes. However, don’t go overboard. I say that myself, after once having wallpapered an entire powder room in a single afternoon and switching out the vanity lights for a more bespoke look right before company was coming. The results were amazing. My company seemed to agree 🙂
PILLOWS AND A THROW – Pillows on a sofa instantly add a level of comfort and coziness to a room making it more special and inviting. Buy pillows in different shapes and in a variety of sizes medium to large either 20-inch or 22-inch. Mix but not match, patterns and colors.
The trick is to buy pillow covers in a particular size and stuff them with pillow inserts that are slightly larger. For instance, a 20 inch cover on a 22 inch insert makes it look more plush and luxurious. And you don’t have to do the karate chop on your pillows. Just arrange them loosely on your sofa looking like……..well, pillows.
Finish styling your sofa by adding a neatly folded Throw or Afghan. It’s like adding a scarf to your outfit! Try to match the style of the throw to the design of the sofa.
RUG – Add a luxurious looking rug that won’t break the bank! As I’ve said before, the rug makes the room. It works like the gorgeous patterned jacket that you decided to throw over the boring top and pants as you headed out the door like a Parisian girl – and it earned you a ton of compliments at work!
Buy a rug in a medium or high loop in the largest size that will easily fit in the room. You can layer it with a smaller, less dense hide rug or a flat-woven dhurrie for the ultimate luxe look. Layering always makes a room look luxurious. And as I’ve said before – wait for those sales! It pays out. When combining rugs, pay attention to create a contrast – in color and pattern. For instance, place a patterned or striped flat rug on a solid with a shag-like density OR lay a plush white fleece rug on a patterned Persian or Kilim.
CUSTOM HARDWARE – Most spec homes come with generic kitchen and bathroom hardware. Switch them out for ones that work better with the style of your furniture and décor. If you are prepared to do a bit of research, you can find cabinet handles and drawer pulls in painted wood for a Country French look, ceramic for a boho-chic ambiance, brass for a transitional or nickel for a modern contemporary look and bakelite, lucite or glass for an Art Deco or Hollywood Regency vibe. This is yet another inexpensive way to add character and personalized feel to your home without making a dent in your wallet.
Flea markets are a great source of cabinet hardware. My go-to place was Liz’s Hardware in Los Angeles with it’s Ali Baba’s treasure trove of door handles and cabinet hardware in all kinds of styles and finishes. Find your fave hunting ground for bespoke hardware in your own neighborhood.
PAINT – Most spec homes, condos and rentals for that matter, come with generic white paint on the walls. Ask any designer and they will tell you that Paint is THE most inexpensive, quickest easiest way to give a distinctive look to a home. Collect pictures of your favorite rooms and pick the one that you think suits your personality best. Plan a trip to the paint store to pick up chips in that shade as well as the two other shades right next to the one you like. Tape the chips to the walls of your room and live with it for a couple of days.
Measure the length and height of your walls with a tape measure to figure out how much paint you want to buy. If you have no idea how much paint you need, the person at the paint desk at the store is often a big help in calculating you how many gallons are needed for your room if you give him/her the size of your walls – minus the doors and windows.
No more living with builder’s grade Swiss Coffee on your walls!
WINDOW TREATMENTS – I often see my clients ignore the windows when planning for furniture for a room. That is a mistake. With the exception of plantation shutters – which is a drop-dead gorgeous look – most window treatments such as Roman shades, Roller shades and drapes are generally an inexpensive quick and easy fix and can take a room from soulless to sexy in minutes! Made-to-order drapery may be expensive but with a little planning, you can pull off a near-custom look with what is available out there these days.
A number of online retailers offer curtains that look tailored with simple but elegant trims or stria in contemporary styles mounted on custom-look bronze nickel or bamboo rods. You can combine shades and drapes to a window in order to create layer upon layer of textures and patterns to make the space more interesting.
When measuring for length or fullness, do not skimp. Decide on what kind of look you want – pinch pleated or butterfly pleats look classy and timeless. Grommet drapes are cool and casual but if not well planned it can end up looking like shower curtains rather than customized drapes. Hang the drapes on ceiling-mounted rods for a great look or wall mount the rods as high as possible, allowing for no more than 1 1/2-2 inches for the hardware. This adds height to the space – a trick to getting the “custom” look.
CROWN MOLDING AND TRIM – always a favorite go-to for decorators when looking to add a custom-built touch to any room. Choose a patterned or plain molding, depending on the aesthetics of your space. Also keep in mind the wider the molding, the more formal the look.
If you want to add some character to an old bungalow or cottage – don’t forget window and door trim. Install wide window and door trims in rich wood finish or paint them in a color to contrast with the walls add a finishing touch make the area look instantly classy and customized
A FEATURE WALL – I live and die by feature walls. If you are going to do any single thing to decorate your home, flat or condo, do plan on doing a feature wall. It will instantly dress up the space, whether you paint a single wall a different – or darker – shade than the rest of the room or you wallpaper a single wall in feature wallpaper, do think about adding a feature wall to your decorated space.
Vintage furniture stores and even box chain stores like Lowes and Home Depot can sometimes yield a really nice patterned wallpaper if you look a little harder. Paint and wallpaper stores sometimes sell remnants.
The wallpaper you choose depends on what kind of atmosphere you want to create – it could be a subtle self-pattern or a funky print with serious Mid-Century vibes or a modern re-incarnation of a French Toile de Jouy! Make it a personal choice – it’s about you and it’s about having fun!