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Designing on a Budget: Get the Look for Less

Corporate Housing, Inside, Vacation Rental

By Natasha Gonzalez

As an interior designer I work with budgets on a daily basis and it is truly one of the most important things to asses before starting a project. With all the endless design possibilities you can get carried away and spend a lot more than you were initially planning on. Here are a few tips to think about when you’re designing on a budget.



When thinking about redecorating a space, first thing that comes to mind is paint. It is the cheapest investment with the most dramatic results. A room can look and feel completely different by changing the color of the paint. Easy to do and inexpensive!

Use a neutral tone around the house to give it that continuous flow and add interest with a bold accent wall. This will give you the flexibility to change it up more often. No one wants to make an expensive mistake. Make sure to buy samples of your choices before you start the work. Pay attention to lighting – stick your samples on your wall to see the color throughout the day.



Moldings are an easy way to make any home look more expensive without breaking the bank. They can be purchased at any home hardware store and installed on your own. When shopping for moldings keep in mind – bigger is better. The wider the molding the more impact it’ll have on the space. Some might think moldings will make a space look more traditional but that’s where you’re wrong.

The style of your home will play a huge factor on the type of moldings you are going to select. Modern homes will benefit from plainer less detailed moldings whereas traditional homes can go with a more detailed look. As for the transitional look it can go both ways.



It’s everywhere! Say goodbye to those matchy-matchy sets and hello to an eclectic look. Reusing your old pieces of furniture has never been easier. Fed up of your dresser? Have it painted, change the hardware and turn it into a new sideboard in the dining room. Tired of your old end tables? Have them refinished and use them as new night tables in the bedroom. If you have good quality furniture but it’s outdated – a little TLC goes a long way.

Nowadays, buying quality furniture can get expensive but buying cheap will cost you more in the long run. Vintage boutiques can be a great place to find great pieces for the fraction of the price. It isn’t for everyone but if you want the look for less – it’s worth it.


Window Treatments

There are so many options when it comes to dressing your windows but cheaper isn’t necessarily better. When designing on a budget it is important to know where to invest more. When it comes to your windows – spend on the best quality you can afford. Flimsy curtains can look extremely cheap. You want them to look full. If you’re not working with a designer – take a trip to your local fabric store. They have experts that can work with your budget to give you that custom look for less. If that’s still above your budget, shop for some ready-made drapery. Make sure they are lined!

Designing-on-a-budget - Window Treatments


A must have! Pillows are one of the most important things in a space since they are finishing touches that will tie everything together. Forget about those prefabricated 16” or 18” pillows and opt for 21”x21” or bigger. If custom is not in your budget buy a 21”x21” pillow cover with an insert that is slightly bigger to give it that full custom made look.



When moving into a new home or condo the light fixtures are usually bland and standard. First things first – take them down! Don’t forget those ugly fans. If you have an existing lamp or chandelier that’s still in good condition, it can easily be revamped. Simply change the shade or refinish the base to give it a fresh new look. Before you head out and spend a fortune at a high end lighting store – shop around.

Floor models can save you a lot of money. Add lamps and floor lamps to every room if the space allows it. It will make it look and feel more expensive. As for chandeliers, there’s nothing like vintage so think before you get rid of it. It can make a huge statement – even in a more modern space.


It’s really the little things that make a big difference when designing on a budget! At the end of the day you’ll have a perfect balance by not breaking the bank. Your home is on the smaller size? Take a look at these 5 tips on designing smaller spaces!


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