Designing your home doesn’t have to be overwhelming, scary or a major debt-inducing process. The keys are to take your time, create a budget, and be very selective about where you spend your dollar.

First, evaluate your needs. What furniture can you reuse? Are there pieces that just need a little love and imagination that can be reinvented with a new coat of paint or some fantastic fabric? What do you still need to finish out the space?

Then, prioritize how to spend the money in your budget. Decide what needs to be a splurge piece that might put a dent in the budget, and what you can pick up while thrifting or snatch from a big box store.

Here are some ways you can mix high and low:

The sofa needs to be comfortable and durable (high-end)–-buy the most expensive one you can afford.

Design 101 - Sofas

 

Sofa choices; a: Loring Sofa b: London Sofa c: Pierce Sofa

Lamps just need to provide light and you don’t have to spend a lot on them, especially now that there are so many cute options at really affordable prices. But if you have it in your budget, lighting is a good splurge category and a way to really take your design to the next level.

Design 101 - Lamps

Lamp options; a: Cada Table Lamp  b: Delta Egg Lamp c: Capri Bottle Lamp

Your rug needs to be durable and it takes up a lot of surface area. If you spend a little more in the beginning, it will age well and the patina will add to the charm and beauty. If you chintz out, you will be replacing it in no time because it will fall apart and no longer look good. Again, a place to buy the best that you can afford.

Accessories don’t have to be expensive (again, the term expensive is relative to your bank account). Their sole purpose is to look pretty. A couple of exceptions to the rule: when you just love something like a beautiful vase, ceramic piece, etc. and you can afford it, you should buy it. If you’re traveling and come across something really exceptional, go for that splurge; when’s the next time you will have that opportunity again? Keep in mind, if you have children or pets, the piece should be placed out of their way.

Design 101 - Stores

Good stores with several options; a:  Fabricadabra b: Furbish Studio c: High Street Market (Plus, thrift and flea markets, West Elm, Etsy, CB2, etc.)

What about art? Art is not an accessory. It is a foundation piece that every home should have. Buy the pieces that you love and are in your price range. Do not knock off a piece by another artist that you want to have but cannot afford. Either wait until you can afford it, or admire it from afar and move on. There will always be something else that speaks to you and be in your price range.

Keep in mind that high-end pieces should be timeless, since they are an investment. Steer clear of a lot of patterns, crazy colors and embellishments in foundation pieces like your couch. Leave the pattern and color to accessories and accent furniture. I still love to indulge in trends because it’s always fun. The thought of dropping a wad of cash on something like wall to wall ikat carpeting, however, gives me a panic attack.

Don’t underestimate the power of estate sales, thrift stores and Craigslist. Just don’t buy a bunch of junk because it is cheap.

Do transform items you already own. Refinish a table or change out the hardware on a dresser.

Don’t buy an interim piece when you really need a high-end piece. Wait until you find the right one for you. Even if that means you have to use your mother’s old couch for another year, it will be worth it in the end.