The Look for Less – Modern Leather Swivel Chairs

Great interior design ideas come in all budgets! There are so many cool furnishings available online but not all fit in your budget. My recommendation is to start by discovering your “dream” piece and then finding the look for less.



This week I absolutely fell in love with a classic, modern swivel chair from RH Modern while working on a project for a client who lives in a loft apartment in Chicago: Luke Leather Chair in Italian Milano Leather in a color called velum. The swivel base is in polished stainless steel and the lines are classic. This chair would be a show stopper in a modern living room! But, sadly, this beauty was nowhere close to fitting in the budget with a price tag of $3,225.00.


white chair


I was able to find an awesome alternative at Overstock. With a chrome base and similar lines to my RH Modern crush, this chair is a bargain! Granted we have replaced the Italian leather with a faux leather but at a fraction of the cost ($214.19), this chair allows my city apartment dweller to have the right look and still pay the rent.


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Saving Money in your First Home

Guest Blogger: Chris Balme

So you have finally taken the plunge, got yourself a mortgage and bought your first home. After years of renting or co-habiting with parents, there is an initial sense of liberty as you are no longer living under somebody else’s roof. Now you are merely controlled and influenced by the myriad of different responsibilities that you face: mortgage repayments, repairs and bills amongst a million others. Here are a few tips to reducing those outgoings as much as possible.

Save Water

Sometimes it can be bewildering when looking at the water bill, trying to figure out how something naturally occurring can cost such a lot of money. Unfortunately it is one of life’s necessities and usage cannot easily be cut without significantly impacting upon life. One change that can be made to the way that the household uses water is to keep drainpipes clean at all times and attach a storage drum to the bottom. This will collect water that can be used for a number of jobs inside and outside the home.

This water could be used to water plants and grass during dry times of the year and water indoor plants. Whilst this water cannot be drank, it can be used to wash the family car.

Invest in an Energy Performance Certificate

Understanding your home is paramount and central to success in terms of reducing the costs incurred. Without understanding how your home uses energy, there will be no way of knowing how to curb it. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) demonstrates which parts of the home are using the most
energy and how this can be reduced. An experienced surveyor is able to use this
EPC to recommend changes to the home that will incur significant and wholly
welcome savings.

Measure Long-Term Savings over Short-Term Costs

Unless you are due for a significant raise in wage or have a financial windfall in your near future, then long-term savings may be important to consider. If your monthly incomings and outgoings stay the same then it may be difficult to start saving any real money. Installations such as low energy bulbs throughout the home may incur significant initial costs but their long-term savings often more than make up for the original outlay.

LED bulbs in particular are useful for the frugal household as they waste a lot
less energy than traditional halogen bulbs. This means that they will sap a lot
less energy and subsequently cost you less money. Furthermore, LED bulbs are
particularly noted for their long-life reducing the frequency with which they
need to be replaced, leading to lower costs again.



In Praise of the Pouf


What exactly is a pouf you may wonder?  Well, wonder no more.  A pouf is a modern “wonder” of design.  Somewhere in between an ottoman, a hassock and a floor pillow is the pouf.



These movable, comfortable and practical little cushions add a modern touch to any room.  I love to use them in Family Rooms with children as kids can perch on them while playing or watching television and grownups can use them as a footstool.  A pouf can be such an object of affection that typically I use two in the same room so there is no squabbling.

The above pouf is 100% wool and measures 18” x 18” x 18”.  The retail price is $250.00 and they come in a multitude of colors.  Please send me an email ( if you are interested in owning one (or two) for your home too.

Fabulous Find – Affordable and Awesome Looking Console Table!

Cost Plus World Market has impressed me again.  For a long time now, they have been one of my go to sources for colorful and inexpensive art, indoor / outdoor area rugs and kitchen goods. 

And now, I have a new discovery.  I absolutely adore this Campaign Style Console table and it retails for only $199.99.

Image: Cost Plus World Market

Use it as a sofa back table to draw a visual dividing line between to two spaces or as a catch-all table in an entry space.  The clean lines, X stretcher, washed toned wood and of course the price, make this table one of my new favorites.

My Love Hate Relationship with Wallpaper


Ever fall in love with wallpaper but are hesitant to use it?  Me too!  After years of working as a designer and ripping down layers and layers of wallpaper in client’s homes, I am the first to admit that some days I never want to see wall paper again.

And then, the most beautiful pattern of yummy wallpaper comes my way and I can’t help myself.

Here is the best solution for those of you with a similar love hate relationship to wallpaper.  Use it in a closet for an unexpected touch of pattern and texture.  This little trick will give you your pattern fix without turning your house into a mess of flowers and stripes and plaids – oh my!   


Wallpaper can be used in almost any closet – feel free to go a bit crazy – in a Master Closet; Child’s Room (as shown in the photo) or consider your Guest Bedroom.   What a wonderful little surprise for a guest when they go to hang their clothes in your home!

A Delightful New Source

Just when I thought I had seen about every source out there for home décor, a new discovery delighted me.  Today, a super cool home furnishings / accessory catalog arrived in my mailbox.  What a wonderful little surprise to brighten my day. 

At West End features products that are rustic and charming, and happily not too expensive.

This mermaid vase is a hoot and would add a great touch of whimsy and color to a neutral room.




Low Cost Kitchen Makeovers

The Kitchen is the room in a home most frequently used by family members, and therefore should be an inviting space.  Kitchens are also the most expensive room to remodel and update.  Do not be discouraged by the high cost of a Kitchen renovation as there are many inexpensive updates that you can do to freshen your Kitchen on a budget.

Paint the Cabinets: If your cabinets look dated and old, yet new cabinets are not in your budget, paint them for new look.  You can use a color to match your trim color in your home, such as white, or venture out with a color such as a red or yellow.

Take Off Cabinet Doors: If your cabinet doors are so bad that even a new paint color will not help, you might want to take them off entirely.  This will create an open and airy look in the Kitchen.  If you consider this idea, keep in mind that you will need to constantly keep your dishes neatly organized in order to have this open look be a good one.

New Cabinet Hardware: Changing the knobs on your cabinets updates the overall look of a Kitchen.  New hardware typically costs a few dollars each at a home improvement store and entire sets of hardware can often be found at flea markets, garage sales, or even posted on eBay.

New Faucet: Plumbing fixtures in a Kitchen are like jewelry on an outfit.  Most women understand that one well chosen piece of jewelry can make an outfit.  The same is true for a faucet; a sparkling clean, new and modernized faucet can instantly improve a Kitchen.  Those of us skilled at home improvement projects will find installing a Kitchen faucet a relatively simple task and can save the cost of hiring a plumber.

Flip Appliances Panels: Did you know that a large number of dishwashers and other appliances installed in a Kitchen have removable panels on their face?  Most of these panels are one color on the face, such as white, and another on the back, such as black.  Check out your appliances to see if any have panels that can be flipped to change the color without spending a dime.

Install Vinyl Floor: If your Kitchen floor is in need of some help, you can install adhesive vinyl tiles yourself.  The project can be completed in a weekend with the cost of the individual tiles as low as a dollar each.  For a little work, and very little cost, you can have a new Kitchen floor.

Paint the Walls: This most basic of all budget decorating fixes can not be overlooked in the Kitchen.  A new wall color will instantly change the look of the Kitchen.  Consider using a paint color inspired by food such as a chili pepper red or eggplant purple.

Remember, there are lots of ways to improve your Kitchen without breaking the bank.  Often, small decorating changes can result in a transformed a room.  Your much used Kitchen can become your much loved Kitchen with some budget friendly improvements.

Balance in Budget Decorating

Budget decorating is more than simply just finding good deals.  Basic principals of interior design apply to any decorating project and using these principals of design does not cost a penny.  Balance is one of these design concepts that needs to be considered with all decorating projects.

Good balance can make an interior look just right, especially when decorating on a budget.   Conversely, incorrect balance can destroy an otherwise good design, even a room with high end furnishings.  But what exactly is balance and how can a novice decorator achieve good balance in a room?

The simplest definition of the word balance in decorating is equilibrium.   Often, designers use the word “visual weight” when they are referring to balance.  A balanced interior features furniture, accessories, and colors that are distributed throughout a room in a way that bring a sense of stability.

There are a few basic characteristics of decorating that affect the visual weight in a room.  Here are three basic concepts, ideas to consider when looking at visual balance.

  • Large items appear heavier in a room.
  • Colors that are warm, bright and dark appear to have heavier visual weight than colors that are cool, soft and light.
  • Materials that are opaque appear heavier that materials that are translucent.

It is helpful to keep these concepts in mind when decorating.  So now that you understand the term balance, here is how to put together a room to help achieve a balanced look.

  1. When arranging furniture, start with the largest pieces first.  Furniture such as an armoire, sofa or bed will act as the anchor in a room to which all other furniture will work around.
  2. After your large items are placed, bring in the rest of your smaller furniture and place these items around the room.  Distribute your furniture by varying the height of items throughout the room.   For example, place a low chair next to a tall bookcase.
  3. Bring in your accessories.  Consider placing a translucent item on top of a heavier piece of furniture to continue mixing up the visual weight in the room.  If you have a group of small accessories, consider grouping smaller items together to give them more weight in the space.
  4. Use color to finish the look.  If an area in the room is looking unbalanced in relation to heavier visual areas in a room, use a bolder and bright color in these places as an accent.  This will add visual weight and a pop of color.
  5. Conversely, you can lighten the visual weight of something like a dark sofa by adding lighter colored pillows.
  6. Continue moving things about the room until a visual balance is achieved.  You will know when you have the visual weight correct because suddenly the room will just “feel” right.

Keep in mind these tips plus the basic concepts of balance when working on decorating projects.  Budget decorators that use the basic principals of good design are often the most successful in pulling off a great looking interior at a rock bottom price.

Three Ways to Freshen Up a Room for Less Than $15

There are many great budget decorating products and tips out there, but when it comes to freshening up a room for under $15.00 nothing tops the following three items.  The beauty of each of these selections is that they are multi purpose purchase that can be used in a multitude of ways.

A Quart of Paint:  Paint is the unsurpassed winner in budget makeover projects and a quart of paint typically cost between $9.00 and $13.00.  The cost is low and the uses are infinite.  A quart of paint can easily cover Powder Room walls giving a room an entirely new look.  Additionally, you can paint existing furniture items such as tables, chairs and dressers.  Painting furniture can make an old item feel new.  Kitchen and Bathroom cabinets when painted receive a welcomed facelift.  Other items to think about painting include lamps, baskets, planters, and other accessories.

A Flat Bed Sheet:  Shop discount stores and clearance centers for flat bed sheets and you can find steals on these paying less than $15.00 a sheet.  This can be the most lovely pattern fabric for the lowest cost around.  Use this fabric to make throw pillows for a sofa or bed.  Flat bed sheets can also be used as drapery panels for a no sew project.  Other applications in which you can use the sheet it to make custom shower curtains, chair covers, table clothes, placemats, and nearly anything that involves using fabric. 

Blank Artist Canvas:  For under $15.00 you can purchase a stretched artist’s canvas in a large array of sizes.   Typically made of cotton duct and stapled on a wooden frame, these canvases can be easily turned into custom works of abstract art, and you do not need to be an artist.  Please note, abstract is the key word.  Go to your local library and find pictures of abstract art with broad expanses of color and simple lines.  You can then replicate the masterpiece on your canvas.  Or if you would rather come up with your own version of a masterpiece, you can use foam brushes to make wide stripes of colors allowing drips and paint build up to add to your piece.

Try investing $15.00 or less in any of the above items.  Each one (paint, bed sheet, and an artist canvas) offer unlimited opportunity to decorate your home for a small amount of money.