Customization doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, it can be surprisingly affordable to fill your interiors with unique pieces that stand out from the crowd. While reupholstering a sectional sofa might be a big investment, there are smaller projects that make an impact in your home, like fabric headboards and chair cushions, that are tailor-made to suit your taste.

Pillows are a good starting point. Whether you can sew your own or have to hire someone else to make them for you, selecting your fabric, size and shape will make your space more distinctive.

Custom framing can get costly, but there are other ways to make a statement with your art. For instance, you might put your vintage album covers in the spotlight with a series of colorful graphics arranged in frames that were made for this type of display.

Antiques and vintage pieces put an original spin on your surroundings. The same goes for family heirlooms like an engraved shoe horn I inherited from my late grandfather’s store in Pennsylvania. Now it hangs from a chain on a coat rack to remind me of his entrepreneurial spirit that has been passed down to other generations.

Adding and subtracting features can lend a custom feel to your interiors, like cutting down the legs of a dining table to make it coffee-table height or securing new legs to the base of a wine crate for a whimsical tray table.

Other cost-effective customization ideas include attaching a piece of glass to the top of a sturdy object like an urn that can be filled with Petoskey stones, or topping file cabinets with a piece of wood for an instant desk that is right-sized for you and your room.

Paint can be another game changer. A pair of secondhand side tables gifted to me by a friend was unrecognizable after their original oak finish had been painted black. Simple touch-ups such as these provide a customized look; whether it’s a dated figurine that gets a modern makeover with some silver spray paint or a wicker basket you modify to match your favorite color palette.

After seeing some painted light bulbs that were once featured in a magazine, I had an artist make some for me in a variety of patterns to display in a bowl.

Sometimes it’s a playful creation you see at someone else’s home that inspires you to tweak the pieces you already own. That’s what happened when I spotted a pair of bookends made from vintage shoe forms at a friend’s house. When I couldn’t get them out of my head, I had a friend make a pair for me. Though that must have been more than a decade ago, they still make me smile.

The fact that these bookends were designed to fit my personal aesthetic makes them different from the others I’ve seen over the years. For anyone with DIY skills, these types of projects can be even more affordable. Either way, it’s good to get creative with the contents of your home and treat yourself to customized items that fit your style and your budget.

 Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at


Read or Share this story: