Interior design tricks for those on a budget

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a designer look in your home; you just have to be clever about where you spend your money.

Firstly, you need to strip your home back to its bare bones. It’s much easier to see the potential of a room with a blank canvas, especially if you have lived in your home for some time and need to see the room through fresh eyes. You can gain an entirely new perspective on your home when it is uncluttered and you should see your home in a whole new light.

Here’s what comes next…

Pick one or two showstoppers

It’s true you don’t have to spend a lot of money on every piece in the room, but you should consider investing in one or two items. If everything is cheap, then quite frankly everything is going to look cheap.

The showstopper doesn’t have to be a piece of furniture – it would be equally effective to have an upscale Italian light fitting in the middle of your room as a dramatic piece of furniture.

Opt for decorative moldings and architectural hardware

Adding paneling to sections of a wall, usually the lower area, or adding crown moldings to ceilings or walls, will give your space a designer look. Paint them a contrasting color for the most striking effect. You can get easy-to-apply moldings for mass-produced furniture from inexpensive chain stores. When painted they may be transformed into an unrecognizable design piece.

New knobs and handles on cupboards and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms and even on bedroom furniture can be just the update your existing items need. Go for glass or colored knobs, or contemporary silver for a more modern look.

Similarly, new light switches will give your home a designer edge.

Use paint!

Paint is like a magic wand that instantly transforms interiors from dull to dazzling, from old fashioned to ‘oh wow!’

With advances in technology, paint is manufactured now that can be applied to most surfaces including tiles, cupboards such as kitchen cupboards. They will all take on new life with paint.

Rather than opting for the safer neutral look, don’t be afraid to try color and different finishes – glossy trims and ceiling paint can make a room instantly feel special.

Using lacquer paint on a vintage piece of furniture can make it instantly chic and designer-like. The glossy finish will transform the item, making it feel unique and brand new.

Choose window treatments carefully

One of the quickest ways to update a room is to change the window treatment. Heavy, dated, and old curtains that have collected dust for years can be removed and replaced with more modern shutters or blinds that will allow more light into the room and look far more fashionable.

Wide slat blinds or French-style shutters are one of the most stylish and contemporary window treatment options. These are now available in ready-made sizes that will fit most standard windows. You will need to be handy with a drill to fit them, but once up, they instantly add a modern feel, and will also allow you to adjust the amount of light entering the room.

If your budget allows, it’s worth getting a professional in to advise you on the various options for window treatments. The window frame and hanging options – the type of blind or curtain itself – will make a huge difference to the look of your room.

Invest in cushions

Decorative and practical accessories such as throw/scatter cushions are a great way to introduce pattern or color into your interior without spending a fortune. They are fun, and will provide an instant wow factor. The marketplace is full of retailers offering the latest trends in fabrics, textures and colors, so changing your cushions is one

of the easiest and most affordable ways to update the look of your living room or bedroom. They also don’t require any work such as hammering or drilling, which is very appealing to most home renovators!

Mix the sizes and shapes of your cushions for the most stylish look. Don’t overdo it though. You don’t want a sofa that is so full of cushions that you have to perch on the edge.

There are a few general rules of thumb for cushion placement. For a generous two seater sofa, place an oversized cushion (say 60 cm square) at each end, and then have an additional smaller rectangular cushion (40 x 20 cm) at one end.

The larger cushions could be the same fabric, with the smaller one a complementary pattern and shade. If they are all the same you’re at risk of a dreary sofa. This placement relies on the principles of balance and harmony.

Pay attention to light fittings

Lighting is so important in a home as it helps to set the mood and tone. Dated and old fashioned light fittings are a giveaway of the age of your home. Major hardware stores or lighting warehouses sell affordable, contemporary lighting that will create a modern feel in an instant.

To get a designer look, be daring and go for a dramatic metallic finish in your lighting, or an embellished piece such as a chandelier.

Lamps usually look best if they are oversized and have a striking base. If the base is a strong shape, go for a simple, chic shade, and vice versa.

Using lights to highlight artworks or décor will also give your home a designer feel as they are reminiscent of being in an upmarket gallery. You’ll read more about lighting in Chapter 6.

Have fun with accessories and embellishments

One thing that most professionally designed homes will have is an attention to detail through embellishments such as piping, fringes, or edging on upholstery, pelmets on window frames, and decorative accents thoughtfully placed around the room to tell a story and bring the room to life.

Think about adding a contrasting edge to your lampshades or curtains, or a distinctive piped border to your sofa to get a stylish look.

Invest in good quality fabrics

Not unlike clothing, cheap interior soft furnishings are an obvious sign that you haven’t spent much on your décor. You can get away with an affordable synthetic sofa, but invest in some good quality, large cushions with designer details such as a piped edge and you’ll end up transforming your bargain basement sofa into a head turning designer piece.

Buy vintage

Often vintage furniture can be more affordable than antiques, but just as gorgeous. By spending time scouring flea markets, garage sales or auction houses, you could find a gem that looks like a rare, timeless piece with a big price tag, but for a fraction of the cost.

Hang art

A common feature of expensive homes is the art that decorates the walls. The art itself doesn’t have to be extravagant, the trick is to hang it like you would see in a gallery – in multiple matching frames, or have one oversized artwork on a main wall.

Add legs

It might sound strange, but elevating your furniture off the floor can give it that designer edge you are looking for. Add legs to the base of an ottoman or chest of drawers and it will instantly look more upmarket.

Splurge on expensive accessories

A real silver tray on an inexpensive coffee table can raise it up to a new level of sophistication. Similarly, a designer décor item such as a cashmere throw rug draped across an armchair will make the chair itself seem more glamorous and expensive.

5 Overrated Interior Design Trends

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA: In this artist’s illustration handout image provided by Baker Brand PR, the kitchen of one of the first Alex Perry Residential buildings is seen on May 27, 2011 in Brisbane, Australia. Australia’s leading fashion designer Alex Perry and property developers Chrome Property Group have formed an alliance to create a range of Alex Perry styled residential apartment buildings. The first eleven floor apartment buliding, launched today, is located just 1.5km from Brisbane’s CBD in Fortitude Valley. Each building features a Grecian inspired Aqua Lounge, marble chandelier lobby and apartment designs in a choice of ‘blonde’ or ‘brunette’ colour schemes. Nine other buildings will roll-out across Australia through to 2021.

Just as with the world of fashion, interior design trends also do come and go. When planning to give your house a facelift, there might be some design inspirations that you have in mind that you need to re-think at this time.

Here are 5 overrated interior design trends to steer clear from according to Realty Times:

Marble counters

Unless you’re a full-on OCD, porous marble may not be the best choice you have for your kitchen counter. This material needs extra care especially with staining and protecting it from scratching. While you can use a sealer, it is not going to help turn it to quartz which is easier to handle.

“A sealer won’t protect your marble completely, but it will buy you some time if you’ve left an acidic substance on your surface that wasn’t wiped up right away,” says Houzz.

Stainless steel apron-front sinks

With the popularity of modern-design kitchen, farmhouse sinks grace more and more kitchens nowadays. However, this easily smudged and scratched material may not be a good idea if you have kids and dogs in the household.


Before you even think about covering every inch of your wall with a daring wallpaper pattern, think about how a tedious job it will be to manually do the scraping when you get tired of the pattern years from now.

Dark wood floors

Sure dark wood floors look sleek, but unless you have an automatic vacuum cleaner to take care of your floors throughout the day, your house is better off with a lighter shade for your flooring as they easily get filthy.

White upholstery

Unless you’re willing to put a “please don’t sit or go near ” sign, then avoid a white couch at all cost. Dog hair, fruit punch, muddy backyard, bronzer, crayon, mustard, tomato sauce – that’s just a rough prediction of what could end up smearing your immaculate white couch in your living room.

Show home interior design ideas to steal for your own home

showEver wandered around a show home and felt your home needed an interior design shake up? A professional designer gives us five show home style tricks for your house.

Recently we had a nose around Waterstone Home’s latest luxury homes development, Chapters in Dinas Powys, and cornered their interior designer Claire Gillard from Sunrise Interiors until she spilt the beans on her five top tips.

Groups mean impact

“Group interesting pieces together, on shelves, on a mantlepiece or even on a wall,” Claire suggests,

“They can either be identical, part of a set or even all unique, as long as they have a co-ordinating theme. Repeat the same picture, have three candlesticks together but of different heights, and co-ordinate with the theme of the room or the soft furnishings to tie your group into the overall design.”

Here, there are two pictures repeated from floor to ceiling, which also gives the room height by leading the eye upwards. Their delicate colour tones with the bedding and the soft furnishings.

Think big

Don’t be afraid to go large and scale up one item in a room to make an instant impact.

Here the mirror at the top of the stairs is massive and, as well as reflecting light, it gives the landing space a design purpose.

“The trick is to not over-do the over-sizing.” Claire explains, “choose one impact piece and build your design around it. That doesn’t mean everything else in the room has to be small though! Just think about scale – three massive statement items will overfill a small space.”

Touchy feely

Texture can bring a touch of luxury to a room without blowing the budget.

Claire suggests, “Crushed velvet is big news at the moment and can look far more expensive than it is. Use it for a throws, runners or cushions. It is a tactile material that can bring warmth if you choose a neutral tone with warm undertones.”

Let there be light

Obviously lighting is important! Think statement central lighting with lamps and task lighting to bring options to a room, but don’t stop there,

“Think light when choosing furniture, accessories and even wallpaper” Claire recommends,

“This is especially important in a room that gets little natural light.”

Consider mirrored furniture, glass, crystal, velvet and shiny or light surfaces can bounce light around a room. Metallic wallpaper or glitter embossed wallpaper not only catches the eye, but also the light.

Colour Jewels

“This is one of my favourite tricks for a show home.” Claire reveals “Keep things tonally neutral but add ‘jewels’ of colour in the season’s hottest trend via cushions, throws, ornaments and artwork.”

And we managed to squeeze one more nugget of advice from Claire before she escaped; “Coral is going to be huge next season.”

Now go and make your pad into your very own stylish show home, just don’t tell anyone your style secrets!


4 Stylish Interior Design Tips to Improve Your Home

Expert home makeover tips from interior design guru Tiare Pinto of Archipelago Hawai‘i.

“Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.” –Jane Austen. As with many things our favorite romance novelist said and wrote, #somuchtruth.

For us 21st-century folks, “real comfort” is lounging in our pajama pants on the couch. Binge-watching Netflix after a long day at work. Inviting our girlfriends for a home-cooked dinner. Showing off our altogether smart and stylish house, its interior design impeccably inspired and functional.

OK, maybe you haven’t gotten to that last one yet (adult goals, amirite), but it’s fall/pumpkin season soon, which means holidays, which mean parties, which mean guests. And, thankfully, there’s still plenty of time to get things in shape. Take a look at these expert home makeover tips from Tiare Pinto, co-founder and president of Archipelago Hawai‘i, a luxury home design company in Kailua. Pinto’s a regular interior design guru, with more than 25 years of experience creating fashionable and upscale kitchen, bath and living spaces. So heads up:

1. Get inspired

It’s important to have an inspiration piece: a starting point for your design palette and style. Find a piece you love—a comfortable sofa, an interesting vase—and build around it. (Hint: Pinto loves to shop décor at Red Bamboo, Bali Aga, Fine Art Associates and Interior Accents.)

2. Choose a color

Whether it’s just an accent wall or the entire room, painting is an affordable way to add warmth and drama to an otherwise bland room with white walls. Also, try blue! If your room is small, paint the ceiling a light shade of blue, to match the sky outside and make the room feel much larger.

3. Mix and Match

When using several fabrics in any one space, make sure you vary the scale of the prints or textures to create visual interest. Just remember to tie it all together with your inspo piece.

4. Think multi!

You’re probably already a pro at this, because we girls tend to go nuts over all things multi. Like, multiway straps, multiway tees, multiway bikinis. Apply the same concept to new furnishings, like storage ottomans with cute prints, vintage (or vintage-looking) coffee tables with lift tops or fancy TV armoires with drawers.

Interior Design: Customized interiors rule

In real estate sales, there are only three rules that insure a happy buyer and a happy real estate agent. Those rules are: Location, Location, Location.

In interior design projects there are three rules that insure a happy client and a happy interior designer. Those rules are: Customized, Customized, Customized.

The main reason clients hire a professional interior designer is to demystify the daunting task of selecting multiple items and then combining design elements into visual delights, reflecting the homeowner’s personality and spirit. Customizing interior spaces to meet the needs, aesthetics and the dreams of a homeowner into something unique, only for them, is the result of a great productive partnership between client and interior designer.

Shopping at a furniture store or online and purchasing the same furniture and accessories that millions of other people have also purchased can be unfulfilling. Many different retail furniture stores have an interior decorator staff that can advise you on your purchases, but that staff person has a bread and butter focus to make their sales quota for the month not necessarily the time or experience to create something unique for the customer’s home. Their staff has to make their monthly quota of sales or else eventually be let go. The only purpose of any retail store is to stay in business by making lots of sales.

An experienced and professional interior designer can customize anything by incorporating creativity, inventiveness and inspiration. Customizing designs can be done for everything, whether for the home or a commercial project. Orchestrating layer upon layer of design fundamentals and then composing smooth and exciting blends at the highest level of quality is what makes a home extraordinary.

For example, the pictured family room corner has been customized with a unique window treatment using linen Roman shades topped with a tan suede cornice trimmed with bronzed studs in various sizes. The fireplace has a hand painted border tile and the custom painting above the mantel was created by a local artist to commemorate a fabulous trip taken to the South of France by the client.

Another example pictured is this highly customized small bathroom that uses six different types and sizes of tiles. On the floor there are solid green and white basic 4-inch-by-4-inch tiles, at the top of the shower wall there are patterned border tiles, small insert tiles are positioned on shower walls and floor, there are raised cornice tiles around the glass block tile window, and a larger row of patterned tiles are used as the baseboard. Originality and uniqueness stand out in this example of customized combination of tiles.

Selecting from a vast array of tiles on today’s market and narrowing them down to a combination of pleasing designs takes time and imagination. Anyone who has been to a tile store can easily be overwhelmed by the huge choices and rows of colorful samples presented. It can be difficult narrowing down choices and putting together a mixture of tile beauty.

Sometimes there is no budget for the creation of custom items, but be aware that customizing anything can have any price range from “A to Z” in quality, details and purpose. For any item, finding and working through the levels of pricing includes adding or subtracting the customized materials and labors to get to the point of accepting the custom vision. After all, when customizing the home, there are no rules.

Today’s homeowner has been exposed to a variety of beautiful interior designs and has elevated their tastes and expectations for their own interiors. Whether in their first home or their final home, customizing by a professional interior designer as much as possible gives a home its individual flair and welcoming livability.

The 2 Home Items Diane von Furstenberg Can’t Live Without

No one knows great style better than Diane von Furstenberg, so when the iconic fashion designer entered the home realm last year (with a line of printed fabrics for Kravet and, more recently, rugs for The Rug Company), interior design fans everywhere could be heard cheering.

Elle Decor recently caught up with the arbiter of style, and you’re going to want to read what she had to say! Check out her home design advice below, and get the full story on Elle Decor.


  • If home decor isn’t practical, then there’s no point


A home must be more than beautiful. Diane explains, “An interior has to be inviting, reassuring, happy, and pleasant, but most important, it should be comfortable.”

    • Every room needs a big sofa and huge table


The more surfaces to sit and work on the better, according to Diane: “I love big sofas and huge tables. The one in my office is by Ruhlmann, and it’s humongous. I use it for drawing, reading, and meetings.”

    • Architecture and design from the 1930s and 1970s will always be in style


“The 1970s is one of those decades that never goes out of style. It’s like the 1930s, when design and architecture went minimalist, but in a good way. Perhaps both those decades were times of freedom — before the war and before AIDS. ”

    • Nature is the best inspiration


Diane finds inspiration everywhere outdoors. She explains, “I always have my camera with me. I’m a big hiker, so a lot of my inspiration comes from nature. That is where you find the most beautiful patterns — sky, leaves, bark, and sand.”

    • Even the most rundown spaces have potential


Not only was Diane a driving force in the transformation of an abandoned strip of elevated train tracks in Manhattan into High Line park, but she also moved into the Meatpacking District long before it was fashionable. “I bought a little carriage house on West 12th Street. The neighborhood was full of butcher shops and drag queens. We fought to preserve it so no one could touch the old brick buildings.”

    • If something works, keep doing it


With her iconic wrap dress celebrating its 40th birthday and many of her signature prints being repurposed onto carpets and home fabric, Diane knows the value of sticking with a good thing.

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