We all wish we could have a personal chef, live-in housekeeper, stylist, nanny, decorator…..but the odds are, we don’t. I may not be able to give you advice on some of the categories above but the one thing I can is, decorating on the cheap. I am a realtor by trade and a lover of design, decor, architecture and all things pretty. One of my favorite tasks as a realtor is staging homes. I stage new homes and old, model homes and apartment lofts, big mansions and small spaces. When it all comes together, there is no better feeling, but not all jobs are easy. With that said, I have found a few tricks along the way that seem to work for any project. Below are my #FAVORITE items to help elevate and enhance a space. If you use a few of these tips, you will be able create a beautiful and inviting room in no time. Oh, and did I mention that none of them will break the bank. Your hubby can thank me later! 🙂
Item 1 – Books
Books are cheap and can fill up empty space. They add color, can be stacked vertical or horizontal and are great in numerous rooms throughout the home. I will typically find books for my staging projects at garage and yard sales or Goodwill. You can also use your latest hard cover novel. Just make sure you take the paper cover off! Again, this is a REALLY INEXPENSIVE way to accessorize your space.
Item 2 – Vases and Urns
These vases can be grouped together or alone. They have lived in living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and dining rooms. I especially love these white vases because they are neutral and work with any color palette and many genres – classic, contemporary, mid-century, modern, shabby chic. The vase on the far left is from Jonathan Alder and the other two are from Target.
Picture 1) West Elm 2) HomeGoods 3) Nordstrom @ Home
These pieces add color and a little drama to the room. They work great on shelves, fireplaces and countertops to complete a color story.
Item 3 – Candles and Votives
Let’s be honest, the first thing you notice when you walk into someone’s home is the smell and ambiance. To create an inviting space, you need warmth. Candles and fireplaces give off a feeling that make you feel cozy, relaxed and at home. On the other hand, I have sold many homes because of the smell of freshly baked cookies, breads or great clean smelling candles. You can certainly create this mood for less than a few dollars. Votives are from West Elm and Z Gallerie.
One of my favorite smelling candles you can find on Amazon for less than $40. I feel the price/value on this item is incredible and you will love it like a Jo Malone but won’t have to spend as much coin. Another plus, the packaging is pretty and it comes with matches! (great holiday gift, just saying)
Item 4 – Trays
Trays are wonderful because they can be filled with objects or left on their own. They fit in smaller spaces, like under an open coffee table or console shelf. They look pretty on a bookshelf, in a glass cabinet or simply left on the counter top. I have filled the deeper trays with lemons and limes, the plate-like trays with money, car keys, etc. and the serving trays with drinks & bottles or candles, magazines and fresh flowers. Their uses are endless and can also help in organizing or grouping items together like remote controls. The brass tray is from Target, the white tray comes in several colors and is from West Elm, the blue is from GateHouse No.1 in Orem, Utah and the Rosanna glass tray is from Nordstrom.com and on sale now!
Item 5 – Pillows and Throws
I have a ton of pillows in my storage area. I swap them out depending on weather, time of year and design space. Throwing a few pillows on a boring couch or one with a simple slip cover can really change the whole look of a room. Plus, if you like to buy neutral furniture pieces, a colorful pillow will go a long way. Target, West Elm, CB2 and HomeGoods is where I usually find my best pillows at a low price. If you would like the sources for any of the pillows shown, leave a comment and we’ll get back to you asap.
Similar to a pillow, this is an easy way to add texture, color and complete the vibe you are going for. Sometimes I use a throw to cover a spot on a couch or give a little love to a not-so-cute chair. Look how much better Great Grandma’s Mid-Century rocking chair looks when we add a pillow & throw! Our not-so cute chair is transformed by using items I already had around the house.
Item 6 – Shapes and objects
Perfect for shelves, cabinets, coffee tables, book toppers…the list goes on. I find objects that will add texture and dimension to the room. I love abstract objects and animals as they both add novelty and interest. Sources: Brass Cube West Elm, Agate West Elm, Origami Star – Gatehouse No.1 Orem, Utah or Amazon see link below.
Item 7 -Plants and fresh flowers
The easiest way to add color and bring nature indoors. Real or fake, you can find both on the cheap. These fake succulents (picture on the left) were all found at Target and the air plant in the gold terrarium is from West Elm; however, with cacti trending, you can find these types of potted plants just about anywhere. I find most of my fresh flowers at Whole Foods or my local farmers market for under $10. Below I used the white jar from our vases & urns section and added some high quality artificial flowers. It’s all about reusing items you already have on hand!
Item 8 – Pictures and Mirrors
You will definitely need to add art, mirrors and pictures to your design space to make it feel lived in, add interest and dress the walls up. Both hanging pictures (in picture on the right), I framed myself. I got the prints for less than $10 – one from Ikea and one from an art gallery in NY. I bought the frames at Michaels and my overall spend for each piece when completed -$30.
I rarely buy art that is already framed. 90% off what I hang on walls was once a poster, print or a picture from a calendar that I framed myself. Some of these were handmade but the purchased pieces came from Minted.com.
Mirrors reflect light and make a space look and feel larger than it really is. I just found this amazing heavy, brass wall mirror (on the far left) at HomeGoods for $130. Also, I use the dark wood floor mirror in many of my homes….it is a lot of mirror for under $100 from Ikea.
Find frames that will add texture and interest to your room. Don’t go crazy buying colorful frames; let the picture add the color to your room and let the frames add the dimension and novelty. All of my picture frames come from HomeGoods, Target or wherever I see them on sale.
Item 9 – Food
This is a very, very inexpensive way to decorate unless you choose to have an entire “candy room”….. I wish! For now, I’ll stick to filling up trays, bowls or jars with any type of fruit (my favorite – lemons and limes), candy, cookies, bottles, pretzels, dog treats, sugar….and you instantly have color and/or a “space filler”. Obviously these types of props work best in a kitchen, butler pantry or bar.
Item 10 – Rugs
Probably the most important item to enhance and warm up a space. It sets the mood and helps create the color palette and design story. If you have a rug that is small for your space, try layering it over a larger natural fiber rug. Photo by House of Jade Interiors.
For beautiful Turkish Rugs visit decorator Caitlin Creer’s site Proper – Finishing Touches For the Home
DESIGN TIP: Be careful of 100% Polypropylene, Polyester and Viscose rugs. They often have a sheen that makes them look inexpensive. If at all possible, look for leather, wool, cotton or other natural fiber rugs.
For help or additional info, leave me a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Staging!! WW