Decorating-on-a-dime tips to re-energize your living space

Remember: plants, pillows and paint. (Dreamstime)
Remember: plants, pillows and paint. (Dreamstime)
Published January 11
Updated January 23

When Hidden Lakes resident Amy Haney walked into her newly redecorated family room, she was awed by what a big difference a few design changes could make.

"It made me love our house again," says Haney, who called on local decorator Kristi Margiotta to transform the main room in the familyís 8-year-old home. Margiotta breathed new life into the Old World-style room by adding a fresh coat of paint along with new furnishings, lighting, pillows and window coverings.

Although the impact was big, the price tag was not: Margiotta stuck to an agreed-upon budget and employed some decorator tricks-of-the-trade to redo the room without wreaking havoc on the Haneysí budget.

Today, it doesnít have to cost a fortune to refresh your homeís decor. No matter what your budget is, you can start the year off right with an affordable home refresh whether you opt for an interior decorator or go it alone utilizing these decorating-on-a-dime tips.

"I love to hunt for bargains for my clients, and Iím not afraid to drive all over the state," admits Margiotta, "I also shop all of the Home Goods within a 50-mile radius; that is my favorite place to find accessories."

The three Ps of home decorating

In addition to adding affordable accessories, Margiotta stresses what she calls the Three Ps of home decorating: "Paint, pillows and plants are huge when updating a room," she says.

Jordin LePori and Jennifer Parker of Grapevine, Texas-based Interior Styling, whoíve put their touch on many homes in the Keller area, concur that plants can play an important role in a roomís look and suggest that their clients do a plant overhaul.

"All that silk greenery on top of your cabinets?" says Parker. "You have to tear it down and add more modern foliage such as faux succulents, fiddle leaf fig trees or olive trees."

Parker and LePori also suggest changing out pillows and lighting, as well as adding curtain panels ó even inexpensive ones from places like Ikea ó to your rooms. "We always say that little things like putting up simple curtain panels can have a big impact," says LePori.

LePori and Parker also understand the importance of paint in enhancing a room and suggest that "when in doubt, paint it white."

A few other tips the decorating duo recommend: using stacks of books on coffee tables, end tables and bookshelves; adding natural elements like a jute rug or wooden bowls; and replacing builder-grade light fixtures with more style- and taste-specific lighting.

Avoid costly mistakes

Surprisingly, employing the services of an interior decorator or designer can also help you save money by helping you avoid costly mistakes such as purchasing furniture that isnít right for your home or painting a room the wrong color.

"I charge $75 for a paint consult and thatís usually money well spent. Iíve worked with clients that have had to paint rooms twice because they selected the wrong color," says Margiotta.

Keller, Texas-based interior designer Bryana Guy, whose firm Inside in Mind works with both retail and commercial clients, strongly recommends using an interior designer to purchase big ticket items such as sofas.

"You get a lot more quality purchasing through a designer," she says, and a designer can help you navigate the many choices in colors, styles and fabrics that are available. Plus, you also get a better price, since designers can offer around 15 percent off what a retailer might sell a product for.

E-design

Guy suggests that homeowners who want the services of a professional designer but are concerned about costs opt for "e-design," in which the designer does much of the work virtually, sometimes even getting a virtual tour of the space instead of meeting face to face.

As an interior designer, Guy is trained not only to help with decor choices but also to help clients work with home construction projects as well, such as remodeling a kitchen or opening up a space by removing walls. She stresses that this is another area that can quickly get costly if done incorrectly.

"When doing a large renovation, the best way to save money is by hiring the correct professionals to help you," says Guy. "Remember that this is an investment not only in the value of your home but also your quality of life."

Create harmony

Quality of life and overall well-being are also aspects of a homeís design that feng shui practitioners focus on. Beata Kulitskaya of Frisco, Texas-based Double Happiness Studios says her business can help clients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area improve their finances, careers, relationships and health through feng shui, an ancient Chinese practice that focuses on creating harmonious environments for living and work.

"The new year is a good time to bring in new energy to your home," she says, and one of the first things that she helps a client do is to declutter. "Too much clutter leads to too much stagnant energy," she says.

In addition to decluttering, Kulitskaya looks for ways to increase the positive energy in a clientís home. If, for example, a client is concerned about finances, she will look at the area in the home where he or she works and ensure that it exudes wealth and success, such as by displaying achievements or images that support the personís goals.

"If you walk into that office, it should look like a successful person works there," she says.

While this ancient Eastern practice hasnít won over every Westerner, itís hard to argue with the principles that Kulitskaya stresses. Just as with the decorating and design firms, itís all about creating a home environment thatís not only aesthetically pleasing but functional as well.

Says Margiotta, "There is nothing better than walking into a room that is thoughtfully decorated with style and that reflects your personality, a place that feels cozy where you want to spend time and hang out ó thatís what home is."

Visit the Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com

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