often feel that the true test of a designer or decorator is what they produce when they are faced with a client on a very tight budget. It's easy to design a home when there is free reign on the coffers. It takes a more creative approach to get a high end look with limited funds.
1. COLOUR YOUR WORLD - Without a doubt, the most inexpensive way to get high impact change is with paint. The right colour can dramatically change a space. But do your homework first. Don't rush off to the paint store without planning. If you know that you are colour challenged then do yourself a favour and hire a Colour Consultant. A professional can analyze your space immediately and help save you time and money by avoiding mistakes and the cost of a consultation is minimal.
If you're capable of picking a colour on your own, make sure you view your colour chips at all times of day. Colour changes with light so although you may like it in the morning, you may cringe in the evening. Take your time and do it right the first time.
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2. CREATE AN ART WALL - This little trick is cheap but it will require some time on your part. Scour discount stores and thrift stores for frames that you like. Don't worry about the picture in the frame, you won't be using those. Once you have acquired an amount that works with your space (depending upon size of frames and size of wall, the number will vary) chose a colour that works with your space and spray paint all the frames the same colour (show some restraint in choosing the colour!). Continuity is created in the colour so the theme of the art does not need to be similar. Chose family photos, kids artwork, search the web for copyright free images, shop on ebay and etsy and amass a collection of pieces you love. Once they're hung, you will give the illusion of a high end collection for a fraction of the price.
3. SMOKE AND MIRRORS - Every room needs a hit of sparkle. This is a look particularly associated with a high end home. Again, check thrift stores for antique mirrors, silver and crystal items. They may look frumpy and old fashioned in the thrift store but once you've got them mixed in with all your pieces, the frumpy finds turn into sparkling jewels in the room. I have, more than once, found grungy and filthy chandeliers that I have taken home. Once they've been washed and spray painted (maybe rewired depending on their condition), they look like a million bucks. Don't pass up a great deal because it's in need of tlc.
4. JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER - Books are an incredibly useful tool for styling. The secret is to be thoughtful in how you display them. In a bookcase, stack them by colour and break up the books with small vases, picture frames, candles, etc. On hall tables, shelves or dining room buffets use books to create height. Rather than keeping everything on the flat surface at the same height, books can create visual interest by keeping the eye moving up and down. If your books have spines that are ugly or tattered, cover the books with paper of the same colour. This look is for modern homes and creates a really clean and light look.
5. CURTAIN CALL - Perhaps the only consistent element that you will find in every high end home are window coverings. They don't need to be puffy, ruffled or embellished but they will make your room look rich. A simple panel with a grommet head can soften a window and add texture to the room. Check IKEA for inexpensive options. Add grosgrain ribbon for a custom look.