kitchen wall art

How to create maximum impact for minimum dollars in your interior design

Sigh… if only I had money, I’d create the most spectacular interiors. The reality is, when are we ever not on a budget? Here’s 3 things to remember when decorating on a budget that can make a huge difference.

1 Color – especially your paint colors

Color is free. It’s the one thing in building and interior design that is! When we renovated , it seemed that everything extra I wanted – nicer taps,  better quality carpets, better windows, vaulted ceiling,  wrought iron balustrade, extra details on the kitchen cupboards – COST MONEY. Lots of money. It was outrageous how much more it cost for the taps I picked out. They were almost 5 times more than the standard taps.

So it was a relief to choose our colors – because that classy, gorgeous taupe/stone/grey-but-not-too-grey shade I chose was all style and looked a million dollars, but cost no more than the boring, dull, yellowy cheap-rental-beige that we painted over. Painting the trims white rather than the bland yellow white they were really gave our interiors a lift and yet cost no more.

So take colors seriously – spend time choosing them and don’t be rushed by impatient painters. Paint large test patches, bring home sample pots, collect paint chips. Try visiting display homes, which are usually decorated by professional decorators, and try adapting a colour scheme from them.

2. Scale

Nothing creates impact and drama in an interior like scale.  A huge wall hanging, an oversize sofa, or a big lamp create a focal point for a room. It takes courage to create great interiors – staying safe just results in boring and bland.  Or consider taking a tiny item and giving it space around it to create drama – frame a single, beautiful shell and hang it on a well proportioned wall. Always buy wall art at a large scale.

3. Comfort

Comfort is the secret, intangible element of a successful interior design that makes a subtle, vital difference to the feel of the room. Are the sofas comfortable? Are the rugs soft? Are the books within easy reach? Is there a place to put your coffee cup? Is there good lighting? Are the chairs placed to encourage intimate, relaxed conversation? If the room is built for show rather than comfort, subliminally we pick up on it and it can result in an uneasy, awkward feeling.

4. Lighting

In the evening, lighting is the single most important factor that changes everything in a room. Never buy fluorescent or cold white LED lights – always select the ‘warm white’ color. Remember that multiple light sources and lights placed at lower heights – ie wall lights and table lamps – are always better than a single, bright, overhead light. If the budget doesn’t stretch to multiple overhead lights, strip lighting and wall lights, you can always use table lamps to create a warm and intimate atmosphere.

Remember to apply this rule for outdoor lighting too – never buy outdoor LED lighting if it’s not ‘warm white’. Cold white fairy lights look blue and the effect is chilly, ghostly, and uninviting.

5. Don’t be seduced by retail stores

retail store

When you walk onto a retail store that’s artfully styled, the effect can be overwhelming. The store creates such a beautiful atmosphere that you feel that if you buy something, you’ll be buying whatever magic the store has. But the reality is, that style effect is created from hundreds of items en masse. (Probably thousands and thousands of dollars worth of floor stock.) When you take your purchase home, really it’s just a … coloured candle. Or a single cushion, or whatever you were tempted by. When the single item isn’t surrounded by hundreds of other products, it doesn’t have as much impact as you hoped and really doesn’t make any difference to the overall effect of the room.

When you shop, choose items very carefully, considering the impact value they’ll have in the room. That exquisite little pill box you’ve fallen in love with IS beautiful, and it WILL look good in your interior, but actually, it’s just one small detail and won’t impact the overall impression of the room in any way.