5 Tips for Budget Design

By Jennifer Bertrand

There’s no need to break the bank when designing your spaces. Hold on to your pennies with these expert tips.

Hellooo everyone!

I am here today to gently remind all of you what to think about when approaching a DIY design job, and how not to get ahead of yourself! These rules are ones that I have had to utilize myself as I often find myself the cobbler with no shoes! Also, please know that I think to design a space on a tight budget or any budget at all takes talent! If we all had endless streams of cash, we would have a blast pulling off our dream spaces and they would easily look amazing. But that’s not usually reality. If you’re strapped for cash on a project, you need to start approaching how you are going to pull it off.

Before I share these tips, I must encourage you at some point in your life to work with a designer. It’s like a blind date, but when you find one that you connect with, it really is a fun journey! But if a designer is not in your budget, here are some ideas to get you going.

1. Plan as if you are doing it all at once

Often, I will see homeowners make choices because they found something on sale or it jumped out at them. The goal when you approach any project is to not waste time or money! Design imagining you are doing it all now so that each room flows into each other and your home does not become a disjointed mess of concepts.

2. Look at your stuff with fresh eyeballs

Everyone gets sick of the items they actually already own. However, before you get rid of a single thing, stand back and ask yourself, “What bizarre way could I use this item?” And in case you have no ideas how you can use that item in a new, fresh way, go on Pinterest or Google. For example, I had a client turn an old piano into a bar.

3. Teach yourself basic design tips and play a large role

These concepts, when utilized in the correct manner, make the difference between a well-designed space and a home design job that truly looks DIY. By no means do I want to undermine the importance of having a designer on a job; I just am realistic that not everyone will have one in their destiny. So here are some simplified tips, but don’t hesitate to Google these terms so you can understand them more in-depth!

• Scale and proportion: in my personal opinion, this is the principle that homeowners usually fall short on because it takes cojones to commit to an element that will feel either freakishly large, or due to its size, cost more than most of the stuff in the space. However, if you don’t play with scale and proportion, the room overall feels very safe.

• Balance (symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial): I want you to Google these types of balance, along with the words “interior design,” because it will take seeing images to properly educated yourself. But also keep in mind that how you approach balance within your home has to do with the type of thinkers you have in the space. For example, when I design for engineers or left brained people, they see the world in a symmetrical balance—it’s how the space feels best to them. Whereas I am obviously right brained and something being asymmetrical creates interest and adds life to a space that feels like my own right fit.

• Harmony and rhythm: Imagine that your space was set to music. What would that music be? Would it be calming like a sonnet or would it be a dramatic push and pull of elements and notes like in tribal techno song? Harmony and rhythm come back to the elements within the space, how they play off each other and what visual movement they create within the space. If you are reading this totally confused, that’s okay. In layman’s terms, I’m saying add some depth and interest, but remember that it all needs to make sense together!

• Interest: this one is usually easy for people, but it means to create a Focal Point. This does not have to always be the fireplace. It’s actually way more fun to punch the eye to a different area within the room. But ask yourself, when someone walks into the space, what is their eye going to go to first?

 4. Have a self intervention

Realize that not all of your ideas will happen. Often people try to pull off too much within a space. Or, I frequently see people forget to leave a wall empty. It is not a travesty to not have something on every wall. And remember, don’t keep buying stuff! Use what you have first and then when you shop, have a shopping list so you shop with intention!

5. Have fun!

I have to end everything with this concept. Because often our first world problem of design can lead us to lose sight of what is truly important. So no home-zillas allowed on my watch and try to enjoy the journey—even if it is on a budget!

Have fun!

xoxo Jen

Jennifer Bertrand is the winner of HGTV’s show “Design Star” season three and cohost of  “Real Life Design” on cravingtalkradio.com. She resides in Weatherby Lake, MO, with her lovely English husband, Chris, and her happy son, Winston. She has big plans in life to conquer the design world … again.

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