Locust Grove Designs
on Google+

My Top 5 Secrets of Good Design

HGTV living room

HGTV makes it look easy: despite a $1,000 budget, the designer has fabulous fabrics which she whips into gorgeous slipcovers for $100 outlet chairs and amazing window treatments for only $100. Add the $2,000 rug she just happened to find on clearance for $199, the $500 lamps for $99 each, and the $5,000 sofa found at her local antique shop for $200 – in perfect condition, of course. All told, the room that could grace the cover of House Beautiful only took a half hour, and $997.

If only decorating in real life were that easy! While decorating is fun, staying on budget and still creating a beautiful room can be challenging. But follow my secrets of good design, you too can have an amazing space without breaking the bank.

  1. Define your style. I talk to people all the time who have no idea of what they really like. Look at lots of pictures, magazine and websites, and pay attention to the styles that you respond to. Do you like country (or its modern cousin?)? What about contemporary? Folk art? Adirondack or mission? There are a plethora of styles so do some homework and figure out which one suits you (and your budget) best. Ethan Allen has a great online tool called What’s Your Signature? that helps you define your style through a series of pictures. I’m not saying you need to clear out your closest Ethan Allen, but use the things you love as inspiration for finding items in your budget.
  2. Create your own design library. Tear out pages from your favorite magazines and catalogs. Keep pages separated by room or accessory (rugs, window treatments, wall décor) so you can find things easily when inspiration hits. I started collecting pages years ago and now have half a file cabinet drawer filled with thousands of ideas for everything from kitchens and baths, to kids rooms, and art. It’s really an invaluable resource.
  3. Shop. Visit stores and browse online – hit the national chains and your locally owned stores and boutiques. You don’t have to actually buy anything, but know the stores you like and check back frequently for sales, close-outs and new merchandise. LIKE your favorite stores’ Facebook pages and be the first to know of sales, coupons and specials. And don’t forget to bargain hunt on Craig’s List, Ebay and your local thrift stores (my personal favorite!).
  4. Only buy what you love. I know it’s tempting to buy something because it’s on sale, or it “goes” with your room, but if you don’t love it – and I mean, love it like you can’t live without it – then do not buy it. You’ll only end up throwing it out or giving it away later. Even if you have to save more money or wait until it goes on sale, it’s not a bargain unless you really love it.
  5. Try new things. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying go out and drop $5,000 for a plum velvet Victorian sofa for your contemporary den (although, it could look fabulous!). But what I am saying is mix it up a little bit. If you like country, stick with it but throw in some elements from other styles. Or instead of the usual mid-tone country palette, use deeper hues to give it your own signature look. Mixing styles can be a great way to personalize your space.  A contemporary element such as a piece of artwork or accessories in a country-style room can infuse energy into a room and creates your own personal style.

How do you make your design dreams come true? LIKE my Facebook page, Locust Grove Designs, and tell me about your favorite projects and how you used ingenuity to get the room (or house) of your dreams. And I’ll give you lots of ideas for your next project!