Sabrina's Best High-to-Low Makeovers

Design diva Sabrina Soto proves that cheap really can be chic when she uses her bargain shopping skills to recreate the look of high-end rooms for cash-strapped homeowners.

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July 13, 2015

High: Eclectic Dining Room

Sabrina spared no expense to fill this dining room with high-end materials such as hand-tufted, mohair velvet chairs, a hand-loomed, cotton rug and antique silhouette art that dates from the 1800s. Total, this sophisticated space comes in at a budget-busting $28,000.

Low: Eclectic Dining Room

Sabrina's budget-friendly swaps achieve a similar look but for less than $5,000 (that's a $23,000 savings!) The homeowners loved the "high" room but were blown away by the "low" room that features chairs covered in kid-friendly polyester, an easy-to-clean synthetic rug and custom-made silhouettes of each family member.

High: Colorful Table Setting

For the "high" dining room, Sabrina splurged, spending over $3,000 on cut crystal goblets, porcelain dinnerware and lavish silver to create one pricey tabletop.

Low: Colorful Table Setting

For less than $300, this table setting is a near mirror image of the high-end version but at one-tenth the price. Sabrina really saved by swapping the costly crystal glassware and porcelain plates for acrylic and melamine look-alikes that are not only budget-savvy they're also easy-care and family-friendly.

High: Screened-In Porch

These homeowners called Sabrina in to turn their seldom-used screened-in porch into a bonus room for year-round entertaining — and she delivered with this casual, welcoming design that brings the best of the indoors out. Cushy rattan seating ($5,500), sheer drapery panels ($600) and a graphic rug ($700) deliver the comfort and indoor feel the homeowners want while featuring durable, weather-proof materials. Total, this sophisticated sunroom rings in at a hefty $19,000.

Low: Screened-In Porch

Just as welcoming and ready to party, Sabrina's savvy swaps are equally as comfortable and weather-proof as the "high" version — without busting the homeowner's $3,000 budget. She spent only $900 for the rattan seating, $240 for the drapery panels and $152 for the graphic rug.

High: Family-Friendly Basement Bonus Room

With three small children in home school and weekend guests to entertain, the homeowners need their basement bonus room to perform three functions: guest room, kids' play/study room and home office. For $17,000 the high-end room fits all their needs plus includes the bright colors and patterns they want.

Low: Family-Friendly Basement Bonus Room

For less than $4,000, Sabrina was able to fill the homeowners' functional needs — lots of kid-friendly storage and work/play space plus a Murphy bed for guests — while introducing the pops of color and pattern they love.

High: Coffee Table

Epoxy-coated steel construction and removable trays give this functional piece of furniture a hefty $845 price tag. The wool, handtufted rug adds a playful punch of color but at $1,300, it's neither family- nor budget-friendly.

Low: Coffee Table

For just $84 (that's a 90-percent savings!) Sabrina gives the homeowners a coffee table with a circular, nested look similar to the high-end tables. Underneath, she swaps the wool rug for look-alike carpet tiles (just $420) that can be replaced with a new tile should one become stained.

High: Rustic Entryway

A well-decorated foyer welcomes guests to your home and gives a small taste of your style — but a sophisticated look like this comes with a price. Antique tea caddies converted into lamps are a splurge at $220 each, and the high-end chandelier reflected in the mirror costs $500.

Low: Rustic Entryway

For the budget-friendly version, Sabrina painted vintage milk cans to resemble the high-end tea caddies. Including the cost of a lampshade and a wiring kit, these lamps come in at only $50 each. In place of the $500 chandelier from the inspiration room, Sabrina's design assistant Chris added a pendant kit to a glass and silver terrarium to create a similar look for only $150.

High: Sunny Breakfast Nook

This cheery corner features a 100 percent cotton rug with a hefty $1,750 price tag, a solid mahogany dining table, which cost $800, and pricey dinnerware: $1,000 for a service for four.

Low: Sunny Breakfast Nook

Sabrina found a comparable rug for only $635, and this cherry-stained dining table is a great look-alike for only $175. To achieve the same high-end look of the inspiration room's dinnerware, Sabrina purchased individual pieces in a similar palette and pattern for hundreds less.

High: Eclectic Bedroom

Sabrina put a cool color palette and handmade touches to work in this budget-busting bedroom. Artist-signed lithographs above the bed cost $1,600, the hand-knotted rug would set the homeowners back $16,000 and the solid walnut handcrafted desk comes in at $2,700.

Low: Eclectic Bedroom

To re-create the look of the costly lithographs for just $50, Sabrina used decoupage medium to attach ribbon to foam boards, then popped her artwork into ready-made frames. A machine-made rug looks similar to the inspiration rug but costs only $850. Design assistant Chris added doors and drawers to an unfinished bookcase to replicate the look of the high-end room's desk for only $300.

High: Bar Cart

The homeowners entertain frequently and asked Sabrina to include a cocktail station with plenty of dedicated storage for wine bottles, glasses, spirits and mixers. She delivered with this handcrafted $3,300 piece made from solid walnut slats. The $100 modern design wall clock above it will ensure they'll always know when it's cocktail time.

Low: Bar Cart

Made from mango wood, this wallet-friendly stand-in not only has the high-end bar's rich finish and plenty of handy storage, but it's also made from an eco-friendly wood and, at just $800, is much more affordable. To re-create the look of the high-end clock, Sabrina purchased a ready-made clock, removed the glass and hands, then spray-painted the clock face white to conceal the numbers.

High: Sunroom

Sabrina anchored the seating area of this light and airy living room with an elegant tufted Chesterfield sofa, which cost $5,000. Antique zinc candlesticks boast a perfectly weathered patina and cost $100 for the pair.

Low: Sunroom

Sabrina found this contemporary sofa, which features a slightly lighter gray upholstery and tufted detail, for only $560. To duplicate the costly candlesticks for 1/10 the price, she painted wood versions with an iron paint, which, when coated with an activator, achieves a realistic weathered finish in just a few minutes.

High: Formal Dining Room

The homeowners love to entertain and needed an elegant, traditional dining room where they could comfortably host family and friends. Sabrina selected a chocolate and blue palette and filled the room with high-end pieces that total $27,000. Here's how her budget breaks down: The rug is hand-knotted Tibetan silk and wool and cost $13,000, the reclaimed elm table cost $2,300, and the table setting consists of sterling silver, European crystal and fine china, totaling $1,500.

Low: Formal Dining Room

Almost indistinguishable from the high-end version but totaling only $3,500, Sabrina's swap-outs include: a machine-made Persian rug found at a closeout sale for $400, a rustic farmhouse-style table for only $450, and dinnerware, candlesticks and a centerpiece to create a cost-conscious table setting for only $200.

High: Contemporary Bedroom

Tailored styling and plenty of display space on bookcases that flank the bed aren't the only things this bedroom has going for it. Carefully selected features add style, but they also add to the bottom line: A dhurrie rug adds a graphic pattern for a hefty $3,000, the tufted headboard comes in at $3,500 and a handy hinged feature in the platform bed allows easy access to a storage compartment under the mattress for $1,500.

Low: Contemporary Bedroom

Sabrina swaps out the high-end dhurrie rug for a cost-conscious graphic rug found on clearance for only $150. The tufted headboard is a DIY project that cost only $250, and Sabrina was able to trade out the high-end storage bed for a less expensive model with the same functionality for only $800.

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