Decorating-on-a-dime ideas for your living space

Lori Stacy
The Kansas City Star

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 decorator Kristi Margiotta to transform the main room in the family’s 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 Haneys’ budget.

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 Interior Styling, concur that plants can play an important role in a room’s 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 — even inexpensive ones from places like Ikea — to your rooms. “We always say that little things like putting up simple curtain panels can have a big impact,” says LePori.

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 isn’t right for your home or painting a room the wrong color.

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

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.

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.”