Decorating can be intimidating – both to your psyche and your budget. Home and garden TV shows feature professional decorators working with extreme budgets or just the opposite – decorators working with what you have for very little. What about something in the middle; decorating on a budget that adds little stress to your wallet yet doesn’t look like a flea market ended up in your home?
It can be done. I do it all the time. I’m not a professional decorator but I have years of experience in the art industry and have given years of advice to homeowners about space, color, wall décor and eco-friendly options.
First things first. Let’s talk about color. Painting is one of the least expensive ways to redecorate. I’m a big fan of more than one wall color and I’m not afraid of dark colors. One thing I don’t compromise on is VOC. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds – easily translated into paint fumes that give you headaches. So make sure you choose No-VOC. Next. Choose two colors for your room – colors you can live with. The color yellow has the shortest shelf life; homeowners live with this color the shortest time so for the sake of not repainting in two years consider green tones or tones in gray blues, warm coffee or desert hues. Use a lighter color for three walls and accent the fourth wall with a darker tone of the same hue.
Now that you have color on the wall consider floor covering. If you have hard wood floors; lucky you! If not then avoid replacing carpet and instead use an area rug over the carpet to define a space. This can be the space a coffee table may go on or a small cocktail table or near a counter with two barstools to create an eating area. IKEA has a very good collection of area rugs that have simple designs and will work with most décor styles.
Wall décor reflects your personality. I really try to avoid buying wall décor at one particular store – all this does is reflect the personality of the merchandiser who chose this wall décor for that particular store. Personalize your space by browsing an antique shop for vintage postcards and frame them – floating inside a frame. Your custom framer can float the card using mat board that is acid free – making this vintage find last many more years. Reproduction art such as limited edition giclees are readily available. Many sites such as The Small Stakes and Society 6 as well as 20x200 carry an abundance of limited edition prints for as low as $20. And – these sites very heavily support individual artists. Your custom framer can also frame these using acid free mats though mats are not always necessary for posters especially if the style is very graphic. Choose art you can live with that says something about you. Good art does not have to match your sofa – that is a tragic myth that has floated around for decades. Don’t listen.
Décor should never be cluttered. Clutter stresses me out – so please avoid this. However, collections, which are not clutter, are good. Collections are groups of items that go together because they have a common denominator. My muse for collections is Collection A Day – a truly compelling and cryptic collection by Lisa Congdon. Group your favorite things on a mantel, a coffee table or a shelving unit. Collections invite a viewer in; they say something about you, add humor, surprise visitors and encourage questions.
Now that your walls, floors and collections are covered the last item is furniture; and the most expensive. My first suggestion is to work with what you have and then accessorizing them with accent pillows or new cushions. If you want new furniture then first spend time on Craigslist for deals. Peruse consignments stores. Often people consigning simply don’t know what they have. Designer furniture can be picked up for next to nothing at these shops. Once again I suggest IKEA. My husband and I bought a $150 birch coffee table which we then painted in pumpkin orange and had a glass top made which we placed over the top of the table and used spacers to create a quarter inch gap between the glass the table top. We have had rave reviews of this table because we took a well designed piece of furniture and customized it for the price of three cans of paint and one glass top and now have an original piece of furniture that reflects our sense of design.
Be fearless. This is your home. Allow this space to be your decorating voice.