Re-decorating a room is a costly undertaking; as I designer, I advise clients to budget at least $25,000 if they plan on purchasing all new furniture, accessories, custom window treatments, and lighting.
Most people can only afford such an expensive project a few times in their life, which is why I always emphasize the importance of classic lines and quality pieces. That said, don’t let a small budget prevent you from making little improvements and updates to your decor on an ongoing basis. Even with limited funds, you can make relatively inexpensive changes that will have a big impact in your home.
What would this decorator do with limited funds?
The most inexpensive, yet super-effective change you can make in a space is to simply paint it a new color. For the cost of a few cans a paint and a roller, you can completely transform a room in one weekend. If your room is currently a neutral, try out a soft shade of your favorite accent color. A few of my favorite wall colors include Benjamin Moore’s Windham Cream (a pale, buttery yellow), Guilford Green (a subtle, warm green), and Iceberg (an ethereal grayish-blue). If your walls have always been a color, try out a neutral like Benjamin Moore’s Bleeker Beige. In addition to changing your wall color, dedicate a few hundred dollars to purchasing new accent pillows; replace chintz or plaid pillows with a few solid colored or graphic patterned pillows for an instant update. To inexpensively change the look of your sofa or an armchair, drape a new throw across its back, tucking the throw in where the seat back meets the seat for a crisp, intentional look. This old decorator’s trick is a great way to disguise a dated fabric, cover a stain, or introduce a new pattern and color. (See photo) Lastly, bold gourd lamps in a bright color will tie your new accent pillows, throw, and wall color together to complete your mini-makeover.
$1000 may not sound like much to make over a kitchen or bath, but you can still make some simple (and quick!) changes to update these spaces as well. Again, start by painting the space a new color. Then change out all of the linens. In a bathroom, buy all new towels, a shower curtain, bath matt, and accessories for the
vanity. For your kitchen, replace your placemats, tablecloth, tea towels, and potholders with coordinating new pieces in a vibrant color. Bring in more of that color with a rug in front of the sink.
If you have $2500, make all of your $1000 changes and use the additional $1500 to recover an accent piece of upholstered furniture. While sofas require a great deal of fabric (up to 20 yards in some cases), an armchair can be re-covered with as little as 7 yards of fabric. Chairs with tight backs require less fabric than those with loose cushions. An ottoman or small stool takes even less fabric. Choose one piece, pick out a fabric with a bold pattern, and get thee to thy local upholsterer. Your room will have a new statement piece in no time and at very little expense.
$2500 can help you switch out some of the items that most “date” a kitchen or bathroom. In a bathroom, pull out that unframed sheet of mirror that hangs over the sink of so many bathrooms that were built or “re-done” in the 80’s and 90’s. A single framed mirror flanked by new wall sconces is a much more elegant look and can usually be achieved within this budget. In a kitchen, I suggest making all of your $1000 budget changes and allocating the extra $1500 toward changing out your main lighting fixture. A new chandelier or fixture over the kitchen table can provide an instant, updated focal point and help draw attention away from older countertops and appliances.
If you have $5000 to put towards your living room, I suggest implementing all of the $1000 changes and using the remaining $4000 to either recover a major piece of furniture (like your sofa) or invest in one new piece. Put your money towards a piece of furniture with timeless appeal that you won’t want to “update” for years for to come. A classic wing chair, tufted ottoman, or iron and glass coffee table are always in style and worth the investment. If most of your furniture is in good shape, look for an elaborate mirror or piece of artwork to place in a main focal point like over the sofa or fireplace. A new rug can drastically change the feel of a room as well and, while you won’t be able to find a large antique rug for $4000, retailers like Restoration Hardware sell beautiful hand-knotted and Tibetan rugs within this price range. You can also add roller shades so your living room will have a more homey feel.
$5000 can really make a difference in your kitchen or bathroom. In a small bathroom, you can likely swap out all of your old fixtures or re-tile the bathtub. If you choose either of these options, recognize that most of your budget will go to your contractor for labor, so stick with basic fixtures or tiles. Inexpensive white subway tiles are a classic way to freshen up your existing tub. In a kitchen, I would make all of your $2500 changes and use the remaining $2500 for new, simple window valances. Envision your kitchen with new fabric over the windows, all new linens, and a new lighting fixture — these small changes all add up to a fresh, new look.
For more mini-makeover inspiration, visit The Westchester Decorator at www.westchesterdecorator.blogspot.com.
Kitty Burruss has a nasty habit of re-painting her office every six months. She is an interior designer living in Briarcliff Manor and works for Barbara Sternau Interior Design.
[blockquote class=blue]Barbara Sternau Interior Design, PO Box 404, Waccabuc, NY 10597 914-631-1875 www.BarbaraSternau.com