Interior Design: How To Design A Space On A Small Budget + A Few Of My Secrets

Interior Design: How To Design A Space On A Small Budget

Copper Dwelling & Design Designer, Brittany Kelly

If you don't know by now, I'm the equivalent of "Design on a Dime"! I grew up in a home surrounded by a decorator mom and grandmother and a dad that would just build it himself. Thanks to them, I've learned a few tricks of the trade. While I always love fancy things and name brands, I haven't always been able to afford them. Once you learn how to get the same look for less, you'll be cooking with grease.


When I got into the industry, I wanted to be a designer that the average person could call on for help with their home. I wanted for them to feel comfortable with me and not give off a pretentious vibe. I wanted the working mom to give me a ring and say,"I don't have the time for this, but I want something different, can you do it while I'm at work?" I hope I give my clients that feel and that they trust I have their budget in mind. Don't get me wrong, I'll take a huge budget and go to town, but I really enjoy a challenge of being given $500-$1500 and told to make something happen in a room.


Some may know we owned an eclectic home store in the early 2000s and sold furniture, as well as home goods. One thing we picked up on quickly, is the markup on furniture, and even more so the markup on name brand furniture. A secret you'll see is that big name companies purchase furniture from market and they'll stamp their logo on it and charge double. 


One thing you can do to stay on budget is shop discount stores. Places like Homegoods, TJ Maxx and Ross often get some great pieces in that will give you the same look. Another way to save money is shop online at sites like Wayfair, Joss & Main, Hayneedle, Overstock etc. You may have to put the furniture together but you will save hundreds of dollars. The sites also have amazing customer service. 


Now that you know my take on furniture, let's talk about the simple things that can change a whole space and how to do it for as little damage to your wallet as possible. These are my top 4 things to change for maximum impact.


1. Paint- color can change an entire space & mood. Decide a color that you are drawn to. If it's a bright color, go with a neutral paint color and accessorize with that color you are drawn to. You will thank yourself 1-2 years down the road when you are tired of it and can't change anything without having to completely re do the room. So let's say you are drawn to yellow. I'd paint the room cream, navy, duck egg blue or grey. These are safe colors that go with anything incase you tire of the yellow. Pull you accent color in on your pillows, rugs, bookshelf pieces and curtains.


2. Lighting alone can make or break a room. There is nothing more amazing than a light that gives you personality, style, character and a conversation piece. Some of my most favorite lights come from my local lighting store, in the sale section, or from flea markets. Don't get me wrong, I spend a pretty penny on lights each year, but they are so important. Lightbulbs are equally important. The eye hates a daylight bulb. There is nothing cozy about it. Stay away unless you want a cold sterile feel. For lamps, you can find great deals on the half off week from Hobby Lobby and Homegoods has reasonable lamps too. I usually can score lamps for about $50 each. Quick funny, my most favorite light ever is in my lounge room and cost $30 from my local lighting store. I assume no one could envision it. It's a bronze round globe with different size holes throughout. Well.... when dark, the entire room looks like a honeycomb. It's a conversation piece for sure. So moral of the story, toss out those builder grade lights and start one by one on creating your story. It doesn't have to break the bank.


3. Curtains- I have two pet peeves- When curtains don't come at least to the baseboard or floor, and curtains that are hung right at window height when there is room to go taller.  I will say 84"curtains should probably never be in your shopping cart. Most tops of windows sit around 90-96". I'll never know why stores like Target and others only stock this size. Ikea is a huge secret of mine for curtains. They are affordable and come in long lengths. Another secret I'll share is, a go to for more affordable, semi-custom, and long option curtains. PS. yes Target sells longer versions on their website and ship within a couple days. 


4. Accessories- Now you all have found Homegoods by now. Do it! I have my top accessory picks. Believe it or not there is a method to my madness. I almost always go to Ross first. While my Ross is very slim, it never fails that I go to Homegoods or TJ Maxx first and then will find the same thing at Ross for much less, so it's a rule I have if one is around. Hobby Lobby is trouble but you will find what you need and 100 more things. Every other week at Hobby Lobby, different things are 50% off. For example if you go now and their pictures are regular price, next week they will be half off, so just wait. Target is also a great choice. If you haven't figured it out by now, shop the end caps at target on the insides of isles. Not the end caps on the main isle side. Most of the time, this is where you will find 30-50% accessories. I always score great pillows, pottery, vases, candles, frames etc on those shelves. Now! What do you need to look for? Always grab something green. A succulent, a potted plant, a sprig of eucalyptus, a fiddle leaf fig tree.... just something green. Every single room in your house can stand some greenery. Next, a vase or jars. These can be used alone or with something in them. Set on top of a stack of books to get dimension and height. Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors....grab them. Little, big, funky, and fancy. A mirror is another item that can go in any room. Shop Ross for mirrors. Typically you can get a 36x24 for about $39.99 there. Next best place, Target, then flea markets. I have bad luck ordering mirrors online. They either don't look like their picture or they come broken. 


I hope you've learned a little something to get you going on your next room re-design. If you're still that person that just doesn't have the time, has a hard time putting it all together or just simply doesn't enjoy it, give me a shout!