Even the smallest decorating touches can make over a home, don’t you think? Moving things around sometimes packs as much of a punch as new furniture. So, if you’re in a decorating mood, we asked five interior designers to reveal how to spruce up a space on a tight budget…
Give your lamp shades some love. Swapping out your basic lamp shade for a more colorful one is an instant upgrade — especially if you have white walls. The home of interior designer Emily Henderson is full of oatmeal, navy and black lamp shades. “It changes the look of both the lamp and the room,” she says. “It makes things feel more high end and thoughtful.” She suggests steering clear of anything too bright or patterned, though. “You want to add an additional tone rather than making the lamp the focus,” she explains. Lamps Plus has hundreds of good options, if you’re in the market.
Go for a throw. Dress up a plain sofa with a special throw over the back. “It’s like wearing a pretty necklace with a white tee,” says interior decorator Jenny Komenda. It works with beds, too. “A blanket at the foot of the bed is functional when it gets chilly at night, but that layer also adds richness,” says Geoffrey DeSousa, chief curator of Previously Owned by a Gay Man. “I gravitate toward natural fibers like cotton or wool. They’re easier to clean and feel more luxe than man-made fibers.” We love the throws at Ara Collective.
Pare down on pillows. Instead of trying to style a bunch of decorative pillows on your bed, just get one lumbar pillow that is at least three feet long. “Boom, you’re done!” says Emily. “The whole bed looks pulled together without any fuss. We love this one and this one.
Scatter lighting. Overhead light can feel harsh, so Geoffrey suggests using a few smaller lamps with lower watt bulbs to make your space inviting. “It’s a good idea to have three or four secondary light sources for every room,” adds Jenny. “Target and West Elm have some great inexpensive options.”
Add affordable art. Artwork can sometimes drain your wallet, but it doesn’t have to. Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day! suggests finding vintage posters at MOMA or on eBay. She also loves the $15 printable downloads from Jenny’s Print Shop: “You can get them printed for $7. It’s genius.” Another option? Spend $200 on books. “It may seem counterintuitive to buy art books as a decorating technique,” says Jordan. “But having beautiful, enticing books out is one of my favorite ways to make a place feel cozy.”
Tray it out. “We have a tray in every room and it corrals both pretty things and necessities, like remotes and coasters,” says Emily. “We have one on our coffee table that holds candles and magazines, and smaller ones on our nightstands. They take a mess and make it look intentional.” They work well in wood, brass and melamine.
Mirror, mirror on your wall. Brooklyn-based interior designer Gunnar Larson suggests adding mirrors as a simple and inexpensive way to bring light into your home. “I love this set of round mirrors,” he says. “They are so affordable, you could even buy several and really get creative. Make a large mirror collection or spread them around your home to help reflect light. They’d even look great within a gallery wall.
See in black and white. If a gallery wall feels intimidating, opt for simple black and white prints. Jenny loves to hang a few in a cluster. “Black and white photos are foolproof,” she says. “A grouping on a wall or shelf is simple to execute but makes a huge statement.”
Grow some green. Have a room that falls flat? Add some life with big and small plants. “As much as I love flowers, they can be so expensive and they die in a week,” says Emily. “Plants last longer and you can grab great ones at Home Depot for $14 to $50.” And if plants end up dying, Jordan says it’s all part of the game. “I’ve trained myself to feel no guilt if I kill them,” she says. “Just start over again when they’re on their last leg.”
How do you decorate on a budget? Do you have any home styling tips?