Wednesday, June 8, 2011

5 Savvy Tips For Designing a Room on a Budget

Have you ever fallen in love with a room in a magazine, but think it is totally out of your budget? In reality, the actual room probably is, but that doesn't mean you can’t have a room that is inspired by the picture, on your budget! Clients come to me all the time looking for advice on what approach they should take when tackling a new design on a budget. It is important to determine what it is you would like to change in the room first. Is it actually the furniture or is it a change from traditional to modern? Are you trying to introduce more color or just tired of the floral print pillows everywhere? Deciding on what you are trying to change is the first step in addressing your space and targeting your budget.

Photography by Lisa Romerein for Sunset Magazine

1.  Know What to Spend $ On

Look at what you have in your room and decided what pieces you can work with and what you will want to change. I think this is the most important thing to think about when designing or re-designing a room on a budget. Does your existing furniture work {meaning you may not love it, and you would like to replace it, but you could make it work}. Or do you HAVE to HAVE a new {whatever it is you have to have} in order to make the space work? Are a few small changes to the space {paint, pillows, wall décor} going to make you happy until you can afford to change the bigger pieces? I have had clients change out all of the small stuff but not the piece they really wanted to change, and in the end the still dislike the room. If you are starting from scratch I recommend you spend your money on the items that will be used the most on a daily basis. Those items should be well made and durable. For example a well-built sofa is something to spend money on.  The end tables, accent chairs, and coffee tables...not so much.

 These photos describe a mix of high and low-end furniture.  

Designer David Netto via Domino Magazine

In this first image the sofa is high-end while the cocktail tables are from Ikea.
via Domino
 In the above bedroom the bed is from Ikea, but the walls are covered in fabric to create a custom serene room. 
2.  Shop Your House / Use or Modify What You Have

Every so often {oh, alright…like every other month} I feel the need to change up the decor of my house. It may be to add some color, or with the change in the weather, but I have to resist the urge to run out to my favorite home store and buy everything new. If you were to open up the cabinets in my house you would find endless vases, candle holders, and knick-knacks of all sorts. I try to start here first. This is not to say that I do not get tired of these items, and that is when I simply modify them with a little paint or repurpose that vase into a terrarium. It helps to think outside of the box a little bit, but I feel it is always better to re-cycle something than to buy something that will one day end up with all of the other stuff in the cabinet. This concept can also be used for furniture. Is there a arm chair in a guest bedroom that would work perfectly in the room, or a chest of drawers that would be a perfect console table?
House Beautiful
House Beautiful
3.  Be Prepared When You are Shopping for the Good Deals

With so many ways to find good deals now, this may not be such a secret. But are you lucky enough to have a HomeGoods in your neighborhood? If not, everyone has heard of Craigslist, Overstock, Ebay, Amazon; you can Google almost anything to find a good deal. There are good deals to be had at local thrift stores, other discount and vintage stores. I think the key is to shop with a list. Before you step foot in any store {brick or virtual} make a list of the items you will need to shop for. It is important to keep an open mind, but don’t buy something if you don’t have a purpose for it. I will admit there is the occasional deal that can’t be passed up or the object you just fall in love with, but make sure it is something that you can use in place of something else on the list. Stores like HomeGoods can be overwhelming! Try to stay focused and stick to your list!

4.  Don’t Be Afraid to Get Dirty

When you have a vision {and a budget} you may not be able to have the exact piece of your dreams. Whether it is something you already own or a good deal you purchase, don’t be afraid to refinish the piece to work into your vision.  Just like finding a good deal is easily done online, so are finding tutorials on everything from hanging a picture to refinishing a dresser.
See how Janell from Isabella and Max Rooms was able to get dirty to change the look of her Asian inspired console table.
5.  Make It Your Own

I have worked with a lot of clients that can’t tell me their style but can tell me what they don’t like. I have also worked with a lot of clients who want to add a touch of modern, but can’t seem to move away from traditional. Personally I struggle with this the most and I know my style but appreciate so many others. I want them all! If you read design magazines, design blogs, or even receive Pottery Barn catalogs, sources of inspiration are endless and can be overwhelming!! {I am pretty sure this is why I became a designer…I couldn’t have all of the styles I wanted in my house, so now I can design them for clients!} A client can show me a picture of a sleek and modern space and tell me this is what they want, but they live in a suburban track home that was built 2 years ago! Take the things you love about the sleek and modern room and work them into the space so it will fit you, your home, and your budget. Remember when you are shopping {with your list} don't be swayed by pieces that really won't work in the room. For example, just this last weekend I was antique shopping and found this amazing cocktail table: 

The table is amazing and I was quickly trying to figure out where I could use it! It would make a perfect statement piece in almost any sitting area. But not in my house. There maybe a piece you fall in love with, but you have to ask yourself if it is really going to work in your final vision. Being true to yourself and your budget will allow you to design the perfect room that is uniquely yours!   

Fabulous tips Tiffany! For more savvy design tips, make sure to visit her blog {Living Savvy} here.


Lori @ Lori May Interiors said...

What a great article. Seriously, I think it is one of the more concise and practical guides to decorating your space.

Kudos Tiffany!


Janell @ House of Fifty said...

Thanks for the fun and informative post Tiffany!! Janell

Karen said...

Great advice, I know I've wasted a lot of money on the last point that Tiffany made, buying something that I loved without knowing where to fit it in my home-then it ends up in the basement storage room. :(

Unknown said...

This was a fabulous article...all of her points were so practical and made a ton of sense. And PS, that cocktail table is to die for gorgeous!!

Kathysue said...

All very good points and articulated beautifully.Practical advice that we should all consider. Great job,Kathysue

Hollie @ I'm Busy Procrastinating said...

The best thing I've learned about design, which Tiffany reiterated, is that you should spend the bulk of your money on key quality pieces. And then you can mix in low-end finds to pull together the room.

Morgan said...

Definitely agree on shopping your house! I'm always amazed that I find just what I'm looking for when I scavenge through my existing rooms. No need to buy that all-white vase for my bookshelf vignette or an over-sized bowl for the ottoman to house remote controls after all!

Morgan @

Anonymous said...

These photos are so great! Especially love the LV suitcases used as a nightstand! Amazing!
xo E + J

Mary Ann Pickett said...

Totally agree with everything you say and love your photo examples. I use Overstock, Target and Home Goods a lot...mixed with a few good pieces and art.

Anonymous said...

Awesome work! That is quite appreciated. I hope you’ll get more success.
interior painter