Whether you’re moving into a new space, or just revamping an existing room, reusing what pieces of furniture you already have is the most obvious way to design on a budget. Sometimes all an older cabinet or side table needs is a new coat of paint, or a new color for a new look altogether. Most often I find my clients really need help with rearranging the furniture they have to help a room function better, and give it a completely new, more sophisticated, look.
It’s all in the Details
The bones of your space matter. Whether you live in a rented apartment or a new home, one way to give your space an instant designer uplift is focusing first on the walls, ceiling, and floors. Giving your walls and trim a fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest and most cost efficient ways to update your home. Also, think about replacing those cheap baseboards and don’t forget about your ceiling! You’d be surprised what a difference details like baseboards and crown molding make. Crown molding helps finish that unsightly gap between wall and ceiling, giving your space an instant elegant look.
Flooring is also something to consider. If you’re going for that high-end designer look, wood flooring is the way to go. There are many options out there, some more cost efficient than others—vinyl vs hardwood, for example—but the main things to consider are the look you’re going for and durability. Vinyl has come a long way, but as far as the look of real thing, real hardwood is the way to go. As for durability, either will hold up well in any home even with pets or children. Hardwood can be sanded down and refinished and lasts a long time, while vinyl requires very little upkeep and can be installed in places that need to withstand a lot of moisture.
Along with the architectural details of your home, windows make a big impact. Replacing cheap-looking vertical or horizontal blinds with curtains or shades is an easy upgrade and instantly gives your home a more high-end look. Beautiful, well-made, and budget-friendly curtains are more accessible than ever. Opt for thicker fabrics like linen, cotton, and velvet, and stay away from sheer fabrics as they simply look cheap. Also, always go larger (as in height) rather than smaller. Refer to my design guide for more advice on how to hang curtains like a pro.
If curtains aren’t your thing, shades are a great option. I always refer my clients to the Shade Store for customizable window treatments ranging from roman shades to black out shades.
Now you’ve painted, and taken care of the floors and windows, and rearranged your furniture, start small. Accessories like pillows, lighting, and greenery can make a big impact without putting a big dent in your budget and are easy to swap out depending on the season. Want to update your kitchen or bathroom? Hardware, along with paint, is one of the first things I suggest to clients. Kitchen and bathroom cabinet knobs and pulls are not expensive and super easy to install.
Is your space well-lit? As I teach in my design guide, using 3-4 light sources in each room is a good general rule. This includes daylight, so be sure you’re not blocking your windows during the day. When a room doesn’t have windows, providing more light sources is even more important as dim lighting can make a space feel dreary and depressing, not to mention cheap. Lighting is also an inexpensive upgrade with manufacturers like Lamps Plus, which offer a wide range of styles in all types of light fixtures for any budget.
Having vintage pieces in your home adds character and a unique designer flair. It can also save you quite a lot of money. Even on pieces that might need to be reupholstered, but the savings on a second-hand piece will allow room in your budget to have it fixed up. Shop flea markets, estate sales, second hand shops, and even Facebook marketplace or Etsy. It might take a little more time but finding those one-of-a-kind pieces is part of the fun, and if you’re a DIYer, this is a great option.
Shop According to Priority
There are certain pieces of furniture that are too important—sofas, for example—to buy cheap. Often, if something is cheaply priced, it was cheaply made and will break down quickly, only costing you more money over time. Prioritize which items you use more, or that are most important to you and splurge on those few items. Then, on the flip side, save on the items you use least like side tables. Also, try to shop for items that do double duty, such as storage ottomans.
Hire an eDesigner
This might seem self-serving, and it is. For good reason. I have no qualms bragging about the fact that I save my clients time and money, and most important, I give them peace of mind. Sometimes you just need another set of eyes and an expert opinion to make those final decisions in your home and that’s what I’m here for. Deciding what to keep, what to replace, where to place everything, where to shop, and how to choose a paint color among endless choices can be overwhelming!
Whether you need help shopping, you just want some advice, or you really need that visualization that only 3D renderings can offer, I’m here to help! Please contact me to schedule your phone consultation to get your started on your design project!
Love this look?
I thought it would be fun to see this living room in both high and low budget versions. Use the links below each photo to shop each look (or mix the two for a mid-budget option).