While money does make this easier, there is an ever growing number of affordable furniture and lighting brands that can help create an interesting and beautiful interior without resorting to copies of big name items. Don’t forget that it’s not just about objects.
Finishes like paint, wallpaper, flooring and fabrics can emphasise quality beyond their price – adding to the overall look and making the interior scheme more convincing.
Here are our top 10 tips to getting a designer look on a budget:
1. Take your time
Take your time to develop a good theme for your room or entire interior look. Browsing through quality interiors magazines and websites will provide initial inspiration and will focus your ideas. After a few hours you should definitely know which designer looks you love and those you hate. Assess what makes the look successful. Is it the use of chrome? The abundance of earthy textures? The slick use of colour or perhaps a combination of several factors?
2. Create a mood board
Once the key component is confirmed you can mock up your own version in the form of a mood board using cut out images or ones downloaded from online sources. Online research is the fastest way to see where you can find pieces with similar detailing, finishes or shape. There are now a number of aggregated websites that show products from a huge number of manufacturers.
3. A little bit of DIY aptitude goes a long way
While expensive designer looks use costly materials and finishes there are often much cheaper alternatives that will provide 90% of the same look – all you need to do is spend some time and look for items that have the same feel as a designer piece – be it a lamp with a chrome base or a basic bentwood chair given a great paint job. Powder coating drab metal components in smart metallic finishes or bright colours is another way of converting everyday items to look more expensive than they really are.
4. Look for bang for your buck.
Stone for example is generally a luxury material but certain stones are less than a quarter of the price of commonly used varieties. Similarly the luxurious look of gold detailing can be achieved with polished brass and printed wallpapers with a touch of gold foil. Both create a sense of luxury at budget prices.
5. Invest in showstoppers
It’s often wise to invest in a couple of showstoppers that lift the level of your room or interior. These can be materials like a stainless steel bench or a solid timber floor as much as objects like furniture, lighting or art pieces. The general aim is to lift the more ordinary objects up to the level of the key pieces. Quality taps generally cost only marginally more than the standard varieties and can add a touch of ‘designer’ to a plain and simple bathroom or kitchen. Good handles on doors and kitchen cabinets achieve the same effect. It’s all a matter of choosing where to skimp and save and where to splurge.
6. Buy vintage
Buying vintage doesn’t appeal to everyone but in the mix a good second hand item will add instant NY chic to an interior. Thrift shop finds are a great way of adding charm and wit to a interior scheme and are generally as cheap as chips.
Some may need a little clean or a new lick of paint – others may require a new lampshade but the essence remains that they are a personal and unique feature that doesn’t cost the earth.
7. Group objects together
Displaying multiple objects of the same type is an interior designer ‘trick of the trade’ idea that can be appropriated by the budget decorator and recreated with cheaper items while still achieving a great outcome.
A collection of stoneware beer bottles may not sound quite so designer as a group of hand thrown ceramic vessels but the effect is much the same once displayed. Old glass bottles can be bought quite cheaply and a collection of shapes in a common colour theme can be very effective.
Italian high end brand Porro recently used plastic plumbing pipes painted bright colours as part of their showroom decoration – anything is fair game – and there is confidence in numbers.
8. Scale is important
Remember scale is a highly important part of interiors. Large furniture clutters up small spaces in an unnatural way and makes everything seem out of scale. Equally using small sofas in a large room will look like a sorry excuse for a sofa – so don’t opt for a 2 seater to save money when the room really demands something bigger.
9. Look for showroom sales
Remember that you can save a lot of money by buying fabric remnants and ends of wall paper rolls and by keeping a keen eye out for showroom stock sales and discontinued models. You can save up to fifty percent this way and still get the real thing. Creating a designer look on a budget takes extra time precisely because the ‘money no object’ mantra DOESN’T apply.
10. Get inspiration online
Top international aggregated furniture and lighting websites
Stylepark A German site that doesn’t sell anything but provides great information. All the best the world has to offer is available to look at here with links to other products by that manufacturer or designer.
Architonic Much like Stylepark, Architonic is an amazing resource. It was probably the original online aggregated furniture, lighting and architectural product specification website. It also has an auction results listing for important vintage items.
Unica Home A great American online store that carries a large range of European and American brands. Shipping to Australia is possible via Bongo –a US shipping company that can consolidate orders from various stores in the US then send them to Australia for you in a job lot.
Conran Shop Worth a look for the British style angle and what is a good range of international favourites – and all the genuine article. Due to the slide of the value of the pound buying from the UK right now is amazing value. Postage can be a killer though so be careful.
Marks & Spencer The British supermarket retailer has enlisted the help of Terence Conran and aims to fill the space left by the demise of Habitat in the UK. Good, solid well designed pieces at great prices. They also have a range by Marcel Wanders the founder of Dutch brand Moooi.