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Design/Finishes 101

Design 101: How to achieve a designer look on a budget

I frequently get asked if I hire interior designers for my projects. The answer is no. Certainly an interior designer is a lifesaver when you have the budget to support their fantastic services, but not all do. One area I save in is staging properties myself. 
You might be saying, ‘but I don’t even have that vision or designer touch’? And it certainly doesn’t come naturally to many, but I can help. There are so many online sites to help provide you a vision for what you want to achieve. And, furthermore, there are fantastic retail stores where you can find décor & furniture on a budget while still achieving that high-end, designer look! Just have a little faith… 

Step 1. Put together a mood board for each room you are looking to decorate. The key is ‘design cohesiveness’ when it comes to making your house a home. I use to find inspiration from interior designers and within…I create ‘Ideabooks’ with the pictures I find on their site. It’s a nifty tool that Houzz offers when you sign up for an account. Don’t worry, it’s free! And their search tool is powerful, it typically always brings up exactly what I am looking for when I and descriptive enough with my search. 

DESIGN TIPS: Here are a few rules I live by when starting my design process: 
1.  Matchy-match is NOT cohesive. It ends up looking overdone and tacky. Not EVERYTHING needs to match in terms of colors. 
2.  Do NOT over-decorate. Too many decorative pieces take the eye away from the overall space. 
3.  Stay away from overly trendy colors/items. You want timeless. Clean. Classic. And that also goes for you modern designers. 
4.  Add texture and green things. You can achieve this with fabric, accent pieces, drapery, plants (live or artificial), blanket throws, etc. 
5.  Add mirrors when possible, especially in small rooms to make the area appear larger than it really is. 
6.  Keep paint colors light, unless you are confident in your ‘moody’ design skills. Darker colors can make a home look smaller and ceilings look lower. They also look great in certain spaces and parts of the country, but definitely a more difficult look to achieve. 
7.  Ensure your decorative pieces and furniture align with the homes aesthetics and its’ finishes (flooring, wall colors, lighting, counter-tops, etc). For example, don’t go for a super mod look if your home inside is Tuscan. That requires renovations first, don’t lead with interior design first here. 

Step 2. Once you have a look & feel defined, onto the fun part! Where do I buy my decor and furniture on a budget? See the chart below for go-to stores and what you can find there. I’ve spent over 10 years refining my list of retailers who provide the most value, but are design-centric. So I stay loyal to my brands because I know what to expect. 

When in doubt and you need help, email me some pictures and what you’re hoping to find…I can try to point you in the right direction?.


December 13, 2019

  1. Jarrod says:

    Such a helpful post, thank you for this. I will check out the stores you listed.


    I’ve been in the furniture business for quite sometime and I am truly impressed with how everything came together in such a classy, timeless and modern way. You are incredibly talented and thank you for sharing your work with me, Vincent!

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