Design Recipes: Try these affordable designer hacks

By Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service

Good design doesn’t have to be expensive to look expensive. Further, just because a decor item costs more doesn’t necessarily mean it is better or higher quality. The trick in achieving a look for less is in many cases to look for affordable alternatives to blend into your existing decor.

Here are some affordable designer hacks.

1. Use ottomans and benches instead of case goods when possible. For example, instead of placing a large cabinet against a wall, why not opt for a bench or ottoman instead? Need a piece that can store items inside? Consider a console.

An ottoman creates a place to sit in an entry area.

2. Add lighting. From lamps to even ceiling pendants, lighting doesn’t have to break the bank and can add affordable and instant glamour.

3. Consider traditional rug alternatives. While all-wool rugs may be desired, a poly blend or even an outdoor rug will be less expensive.

4. Consider textured material such as faux fur and hides.

A wicker front dresser is used instead of one that is all wood.

5. Shop for pieces that aren’t all wood. For example, a piece of furniture that may be a mix of wood and glass or wood and wicker will come with a more affordable price tag.

6. Place small pieces of identical or similar art in a pattern or series as an alternative to a single large-scale artwork.

7. Look for living room or family room seating alternatives to sofas and chairs such as a chaise, overscale ottoman or bench.

Mirrors serve as inexpensive wall decor in this kitchen.

8. Use mirrors as alternatives to traditional artwork.

9. Go homemade! What would be more special than making something yourself?

10. Add affordable accents such as greenery or books. Whether real or artificial, greenery can be an affordable way to add accents to your space. Books also top the affordable accessories list.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at