10 Ways to Create a Designer Home on a Budget

Wednesday 30 Jun 2021

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. With careful consideration, research and planning and some helpful styling tricks, it's easy to create a luxe-looking interior for less.

1. 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 to centralise pieces of furniture 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 goes a long way if you want to create something to 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 and consider all options when choosing materials. Some materials are far more expensive but make little difference, and can also be high-maintenance. Stone for example is generally a luxury material but certain stones are less than a quarter of the price of commonly used varieties. Engineered stone also looks extremely similar to pure stone these days, and will stain less easily.

5. Invest in 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. 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. Grouping objects together of the same type is an interior designer 'trick of the trade' that can be appropriated by the budget decorator and recreated with cheaper items while still achieving a great outcome.

8. 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 to save 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 and scour affordable homewares sites like Temple & Webster and Zanui to find designer-look furniture and homewares at affordable prices. Ebay and Gumtree are great for sourcing vintage designer furniture or items that can be easily upcycled. It all comes down to finding a a look you love and asking how you get it for less.

See Homes to Love for more exciting tips.