Use cost-saving standard colors in one area so you can splurge in other areas. The homeowners in this Atlanta neighborhood worked with designer Thea Quillian to plan their kitchen, and originally wanted to install blue upper cabinets. When they found white cabinets from Ikea at a fraction of the cost, they realized they could use the savings to afford more pricey walnut countertops.
A new rug took up $110 of the $500 budget. Designer Heather Hogan Roberts found this fleece rug with a geometric pattern on sale and saved more with a 10 percent off coupon. She bought two ikat window panels and got one for 40 percent off. Those savings allowed her to buy discounted fabric for custom pillows and the elephant end table, which cost $40 at a thrift shop. The fiddle-leaf fig adds natural beauty to a corner with no need for wall art.
Become your own artist. The elephant artwork to the left of the bed was actually a DIY project that a coworker of Atlanta designer Steve McKenzie, owner of Steve McKenzie’s, painted. The brightly upholstered wingback chairs were McKenzie’s jumping off point for the room’s colors in this Dwell with Dignity install.
Go for a high-gloss effect. A smaller group of gray Ikea cabinets, used in an Atlanta mid-century modern kitchen, gives a steel sheen to the space, which was previously designed by Brian Patrick Flynn as his personal residence.
Let your love for vintage jars shine. Light fixtures made from Mason jars fit with a vintage, rustic or farmhouse kitchen design. These single pendants made of upcycled jars cost about $125 each, says Atlanta designer Jenn Ryan, owner of Jenn Ryan Designs and Reclaimed Lighting. Chandeliers made with a trio of Mason jars can also be found for less than $200 through online artisan marketplaces.
You can turn anything into a collection. Group a trio of mirrors with an interesting finish, such as an antique patina, on a wall for instant artwork. If you find mirrors with different sizes and frames at a yard sale or thrift store, patina the frames and mirrors to achieve the same look. “Grouping affordable mirrors is a great way to add charm and interest to a wall,” says Julie Montgomery, owner of Julie Montgomery Interiors in Atlanta.
Take a cheap white bowl (this one cost $2 at a Goodwill thrift shop) and add interest by filing it with a unique accessory: pink beads. Then don't forget mirrors, big or small, when decorating a living space. Designer Heather Hogan Roberts of Ivy and Vine used a mirrored tray underneath. Beyond the table, the woven basket holding blankets on the hearth used to be hidden behind a chair.
Don’t blow the budget on furniture such as a chest, console or end table of your dreams. Instead, style an existing piece of furniture with objects and lighting that have an interesting shape and texture and take cues from the style of the room. Scale is always important, says Atlanta designer Alice Cramer. Ensure your lamp and accessories don’t overpower, but complement, the piece of furniture.
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