Money-Saving Secrets From Showhouse Designers

Steal these great designer tips for saving money on home decorating.

Photo By: Laura Negri

Photo By: David Christensen

Photo By: David Christensen

Photo By: Laura Negri

Photo By: Laura Negri

Photo By: David Christensen

Photo By: David Christensen

Photo By: David Christensen

Creative Console

Designer Brian Watford's lounge for the Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens showed the beauty of a well-edited console with just a few striking objects featured. Geometric objects in metal and other materials are a recurring theme in many designers' rooms. Shop your own house to find clever objects to create a striking console or coffee table tableau.

Art Objects

Designer Barbara Westbrook incorporated these quirky, one-of-a-kind clay birds into her Great Room design for a wonderful touch of personality. "I would rather have a flea market find than everything new" says Westbrook of her mix of objects like these unique artist-made birds that look wonderful when grouped together.

Chic Palette

Designer Barbara Westbrook stuck with a clean and simple color palette in her Great Room design. Westbrook advises keeping your coffee table pared back "but make sure everything on it is special." Shop your own home for unique objects to group together. Westbrook painted this simple oak tray black for drama and to better highlight the white objects featured. If a favorite object is past its prime or just needs a refresh, spray paint is a great, cheap tool. It can also bring continuity to a room design, as with this black and white room.

365 Green

Designer Jonathan Savage incorporated no-maintenance preserved boxwood on striking pedestals to add elegance—and a low-cost touch of greenery—to his bedroom design.

Think Pewter

Silver matte pewter objects lend iconic, unique style to designer Lauren DeLoach's showhouse kitchen and they don't cost a fortune. "You can find pewter at a garage sale," advises DeLoach who likes the way pewter tarnishes at different levels, adding visual interest to a grouping. Group pewter objects of different sizes together for more impact.

Color Rules

This retro gold light fixture gets a fabulous update and burst of color with the addition of these fun lampshades in the Parker Kennedy Living designed bedroom and bath. Think about colorful lampshades as a quick, colorful and inexpensive way to update a room, especially when paired with gold fixtures and lamps.

Creature Comforts

These beautiful curtains in Lauren DeLoach's kitchen have a distinctive scalloped edging that adds a unique—relatively low cost—touch to a pared-back kitchen.

Sweet Dreams

A more updated spin on the canopy, these cheerful, luxurious curtains add warmth and style to the bed in design firm Parker Kennedy Living's bedroom.

Cover Up

Designer Jonathan Savage added warmth to his sophisticated bedroom by adding curtains to this bed, also a relatively inexpensive way to add texture and dimension to your bedroom. Savage also advises cutting costs on bed linens by purchasing simple, inexpensive pillowcases, but accenting them with one striking throw pillow for contrast, as seen here.

Hollywood Luxe

Designer Melanie Turner's Grand Foyer design combines artsy details with old Hollywood elegance. Designers like Barbara Westbrook like to use a clean, minimalist color palette in upholstery, using the same white linen on all the upholstered furniture in a room. She then adds interest with throws and pillows to create texture. Less inexpensive pillows and throws also protect the upholstery underneath and can be taken to the dry cleaner when the need arises.

Stack Attack

Designer Melanie Turner used a stack of books as a side table in her Grand Foyer. It's just the kind of inspired, slightly artsy touch that gives an entrance character. Turner's stack of books also functions as a budget-friendly table using objects many may already have at home.

Foot Loose

Parker Kennedy Living created a super-functional design with great attitude by placing a table stacked with books at the foot of the bed, a detail that establishes instant comfort and makes you want to snuggle with a great book. It's also a great way to upcycle an old coffee table you don't want to make a living room focal point, but think would add a quirky detail to a guest or master bedroom.

Wall Art

Designer Lauren DeLoach painted this botanical scene on wallpaper for a luxurious look for much less money. "It also gives it a more whimsical look" than plain grasscloth wallpaper says DeLoach.

Clever Chest Update

Design firm Parker Kennedy Living featured this chest of drawers in a bedroom. Do you have an older chest that needs an update? Take a cue from the guys at Parker Kennedy Living and add metal studs and grasscloth or burlap to drawers to give a cheap-chic refresh.

Virtual Shopping

Designer Barbara Westbrook found these unique, vintage metal stands on eBay and created a minimalist arrangement using ferns from the yard placed in glass beakers. Think outside the box when considering ways to bring nature into your space and use unusual industrial elements for a spark of wit.

Birds of a Feather

Design firm Parker Kennedy Living created a clever "gallery" wall using gold pedestals to feature like-objects. Similar small shelves can be found at thrift stores, dollar stores and yard sales, and then painted the same color. Like a coffee table design for your wall, the effect is much more interesting than the usual gallery wall and can allow you to group collections or similar small objects together for greater impact. "Put a lot of like small things together so they look like a collection" advises designer Barbara Westbrook. If you separate small objects, "it looks like visual noise," advises Westbrook.

Mirror, Mirror

Mirrors can provide a fabulous focal point in a room, as seen here in this room at the Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens. They can also enlarge a room, bounce light around a dark room and, when paired with a beautiful frame, can function as a kind of artwork in a space.

Contain Yourself

Designer Rivers Spencer illustrated an essential rule of good design in her Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens room: beautiful boxes perform an important task in corralling common area clutter—think TV remotes, keys, playing cards, coasters—and can be found in both inexpensive and fancy versions.

Create a Story

Inspired design touches don't have to break the bank. Think about things from your home you love, or an idea you would like to convey in a room. Atlanta's Mark Williams Design Associates created an inexpensive but imaginative side table vignette in this bedroom with a vintage camera, vintage books and a scented candle, great ideas for adding a personal touch to a guest room.

Wallpaper Trick

Designer Jonathan Savage demonstrated a no-cost but high-impact touch in a bathroom by wallpapering the light switch in the same paper he used for the bathroom walls.

Heavy Metal

Designer Jonathan Savage advises buying up great frames when you find them on sale. Then you can size your favorite photos or prints to fit. Personal photos are a great way to bring personality to a room.

Take Away

Keep bathroom decor minimal for easier cleaning. A simple flower arrangement or inexpensive moss arrangement, guest towels and guest soaps make this bathroom by designer Jonathan Savage a study in elegant simplicity.

Think One-of-a-Kind

"It's always important to have a one-of-a-kind piece in every room" says Atlanta designer Barbara Westbrook, who incorporated this shell fossil into her living room design. Objects like this add a needed patina and texture to your design, especially when mixed with newer items.

Paint Job

Designer Andrew Brown created a gorgeous, exotic effect with this painted detail on the walls of the bedroom he designed for the 2016 Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens. Unique painted details like this are relatively inexpensive to pull off, especially when making use of some extra paint you may already have on hand from another painting job.

Group Like Objects

Design firm Parker Kennedy Living created a clever "gallery" wall using gold pedestals to feature like-objects. Similar small shelves can be found at thrift stores, dollar stores and yard sales, and then painted the same color. Like a coffee table design for your wall, the effect is much more interesting than the usual gallery wall and can allow you to group collections or similar small objects together for greater impact. "Put a lot of like small things together so they look like a collection" advises designer Barbara Westbrook. If you separate small objects, "it looks like visual noise," advises Westbrook.

Minimalist Bathroom

Keep bathroom decor minimal for easier cleaning. A simple flower arrangement or inexpensive moss arrangement, guest towels and guest soaps make this bathroom by designer Jonathan Savage a study in elegant simplicity.

Clever Chest Update

Design firm Parker Kennedy Living featured this chest of drawers in a bedroom. Do you have an older chest that needs an update? Take a cue from the guys at Parker Kennedy Living and add metal studs and grasscloth or burlap to drawers to give a cheap-chic refresh.

Baby Blues

This Suzanne Kasler dining room features a hot trend of a ceiling painted either soft blue or soft pink. Designer Jonathan Savage calls pink "the new white." A pink or blue ceiling is an easy, less costly way to bring this trend to your home.

Color Balance

It doesn't cost anything extra, and in fact can keep impulsive spending in check, when you focus on a coherent color scheme in smaller decorative items (which can be easily changed out by season) in your room. Finding a color through-line, as in this beautiful Beth Webb dining area will help you perform the essential designer trade secret of a good edit. "Always have the end vision in mind," advises designer Barbara Westbrook. "Every purchase should go to that vision."

Looking Up

Think outside the box, as designer Amy Morris did with this gorgeous stamped ceiling whose rich gold detail elegantly contrasted with soft pink walls. Ceilings, whether wallpapered or painted, are a great low-cost place to add interest to a room. Also consider powder pink for an accent wall, ceiling or accessories: it's one of the favorite new colors featured in the 2016 Southeastern Designer Showhouse and Gardens.

Under Cover

Want to dramatically change the look of a room or just create a cozy effect? Consider curtains in a subdued color that can be used to hide bookshelves as in this restful space created by designer Robert Brown.

Edit, Edit, Edit

Every designer's cardinal rule: edit. You can transform your space in a few hours or a weekend by just taking away, rather than adding. Resell items you no longer love and reap the rewards of a cleaner, brighter, more crafted space, as in this edgy-meets-elegant living room by designer Kay Douglass.