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Design on a budget

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Posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:00 am

Buying a new home is not an option for many Arizonans in today’s housing market, but there are redecorating options available that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

When redecorating it can be easy to bite on the best deals, but according to local interior designer Sherribeth Thompson homeowners should beware of buying the wrong items for the right prices.

“You can think of it like clothes shopping,” Thompson said. “I see a cute piece of clothing on sale, but I take it home and it doesn’t really fit or I can’t find other items to coordinate with its color. It’s the same with designing a room, only the stakes are higher.”

Thompson works with her clients to develop a design concept so they can avoid the pitfall of buying furniture twice. She talks with the client to understand how the space will be used, not just how it needs to look.

“I find out what the space needs to do and who will be using it,” Thompson said. “I would choose a certain couch if it needs to be comfy and last a long time.”

When shopping at discount furniture stores such as IKEA, it’s important for shoppers to be patient when selecting furniture.

“People should be prepared to take their time when shopping at these stores,” Thompson said. “Chances are that you won’t find what you’re looking for in the right size or color the first time you go.”

She also encourages those who choose to design their home without the help of an expert to focus on one area of their house at a time.

“You will be overwhelmed and anxious if you look at the whole house,” she said. “Think of it as a long-term plan that you implement in stages.”

For people on extremely tight budgets Thompson suggests changing paint color. However, it can be tricky to predict how a color will look in a home as opposed to the showroom.

“Everyone has access to paint samples, and paint is the least expensive way to make a dramatic impact in a room,” Thompson said.

Inexpensive accessories such as pillows and artwork can also add interest to a room. Some pillows can be pricey, but comparable pillows can be found much cheaper at Target, Stein Mart and similar stores.

“A print of artwork can complete a space, and it is much less expensive than original artwork,” Thompson said.

As an interior designer herself, Thompson encourages people to use professionals when decorating because designing is what they do every day.

“I wouldn’t go to my next door neighbor and ask him to prescribe a treatment for my broken arm,” she said. “If you’re working with a professional to help develop your concept before you start buying things, you will ensure that you don’t end up buying them twice.”

One of Thompson’s recent clients in Chandler is happy with her work. After being unhappy with the results of decorating past homes on his own, he was ready to hand control over to a professional.

“I had general ideas about what I wanted to do with the space, but they weren’t very good,” he said. “I set my ego aside and listened to her, and now I’m very happy with the results.”


The following are design tips from IKEA for do-it-yourself luxury decorating on a budget:


Set the mood

The right lighting can help create an air of luxury for less. Install dimmers on existing lighting or use scented candles for an easy way to set a soothing mood.


Tactile textiles

Textiles create a luxurious feeling in the bedroom. Plush rugs feel great and make chilly floors feel warmer. Use sheers to fashion a billowy canopy with two curtain rods. A colorful 100 percent cotton duvet cover brightens up the bedroom and feels wonderful against the skin.


Snuggle up

Few things feel as luxurious as a cozy down comforter. Look for one that provides the right warmth level. If allergies are an issue, try down alternatives. New materials like modal and lyocell wick moisture from the body for sleeping comfort.


Pillow talk

Adding pillows of various shapes and sizes is an inexpensive way to help bring a luxurious look and feel to the bedroom. Consider mixing and matching different types of pillows, including round, bolster and European square.


Touch of glitz

Little items mean a lot. Small, pretty mirrors, photo frames and simple yet elegant vases add a bit of opulence. Try clustering small items or collections in one area rather than scattering them to avoid a cluttered feeling.


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