October 17, 2012
By Erica Gelman
As a designer, I’m involved in exciting design, décor and renovation projects daily. The notion that a designer’s job is only about creativity, colour and vision is simply not the case – that’s just the half of it. We are also number crunchers, analysts and budget planners. It’s not the best part of our profession but at the end of the day, everyone is concerned with the bottom line: what’s this going to cost me?
How do you decorate in style, invest in quality and still have enough money left over to enjoy your space? The answer is simple – make smart choices and save a little on everything along the way, prioritize and plan your purchases. Regardless of whether your budget is luxuriously high or commonly low, everyone has a price and a number they feel comfortable spending. If you can only spend money on a few key pieces, make them impactful to your space and purchase the best of what you can afford.
The most significant changes you can make to your outdated room is by updating the lighting, changing your drapery, and replacing your rug. Frequently, first-time homebuyers are faced with empty spaces or hand-me-downs that don’t reflect their personality or lifestyle. When new furniture doesn’t fit within your budget, think of ways to repurpose or up-cycle by repainting, re-staining or reupholstering — these are all easy ways to give an old piece new life. Clients who come to us with a tight budget are always encouraged to shop their personal belongings first before heading out to invest in new pieces. If our clients don’t have quality objects to restore, we turn to other creative avenues like online auctions and vintage shops — you’re guaranteed to find one-of-kind pieces and gems at a steal.
If you’re only prepared to make one large decorating commitment then look to drapery for the most bang for your buck. A good window treatment adds style, volume and layers to a space like no other décor piece. Whether you want to add side stationary side panels, light sheers or tailored romans, the options are endless and the costs can range dramatically. Custom drapery often gets a bad reputation for being too expensive. The truth is, it could be a real budget splurge but it doesn’t have to be. The overall expense all depends on the cost of fabric, labour, lining and installation, plus hardware. I would suggest investing in quality labour and purchase fabric that’s at a more reasonable price. Designer Fabrics in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood is my go-to supplier for budget-friendly fabric by the yard.
When all else fails and your budget will only allow for minimal spending and short timelines, the easiest and least expensive décor fix is the ever-trusted gallon of paint. A weekend project can turn your bland walls into a bold statement or your tired room into a stunning space. We always encourage setting your budget perimeter at the beginning of a project and making the best choices for you and your home.
If you own a sewing machine then make your own pillows and update the look of your sofa. Don’t be afraid to ask a local supplier if they have any discontinued pieces they need to “get rid of”.
Look to online shopping like eBay, Craig’s List & Kijiji for antiques and vintage furniture. You’ll be surprised at the large assortment and great options. Look beyond the dust and stains, typically they’re all easy fixes.
For the best bargains find a local Estate or Moving Sale – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. For a good quality rug you’ll need to invest a large chunk of your budget so why not ask a flooring factory to bind or seam the edges of a carpet remnant. You’ll even be able to get it cut to a custom size.
Toronto-based designer Erica Gelman, Principal of Erica Gelman House Of Design. Specializes in both large and small scale residential design projects throughout Toronto and the GTA. Known for enhancing and creating new possibilities in every space of your home.
House Of Design www.ericagelman.com