Design in a Downturn.

It might be looking more like an upturn these days for some of you, however, there are a lot of us who need design help without running to the bank. Here are a few free secrets from MyHomeIdeas to help you navigate your way through out of a deep hole for long-term deeper pockets. I’ve added a few words of advice… another designers point of view! =)

Photo: Dennis Welsh for Cottage Living

Photo: Dennis Welsh for Cottage Living

Think Long Term. This is not the time for fragile silks and sheers. We’re in an era of twill, faux suede, and vinyl — all long lasting, easy to clean, and affordable. Use durable outdoor fabrics inside so you won’t have to replace upholstery any time soon. The new weather-resistant fabrics are available in any print or texture you could want and feel amazing to the touch.

My take? I personally like a mix of textures – and silks can add a luminous glow and feel to a space. Silk fabrics can stand the test of time with a little care. On the flip side, newer outdoor fabrics are amazing and are perfect options for households with little ones and pets. Even your discriminating relatives won’t be able to tell the difference!

Multitask. As in the workplace, everybody, including furniture, needs to do the work of two or three these days. Choose an ottoman that doubles as seating, a coffee table with drawers, or a dining table with leaves for expanding.

My take? I agree! In a small living space, I’m all about finding the right mix of multi-use pieces. However, you dont need to create a room with compartments everywhere. For seating, I’m big on small side stools. They double as mini-tables and a place to rest your laptop. For storage, I love built-ins with a lower cabinet for behind the scenes “stuff”. Use a shelf for a impromptu wet bar, add go-to magazines, attractive storage boxes for favorite pens and paper. You can’t go wrong and they add value to any home. Add a wallpapered back or a splash of bright paint and voila! Years of enjoyment!

Take Comfort. We need all the comforts of home these days, so surround yourself with cozy fabrics — chenille, velvet, and mohair, if you can afford it. Just one armchair covered in a soft, warm fabric can provide refuge from the tide of bad news — it’s the equivalent of a photo of your family on your desk at work, guaranteed to lower your blood pressure. Put fluffy throws within arm’s reach of your favorite seat. Surround yourself with things that remind you of happy times, and hold the promise of the better days ahead: Photographs of family trips, family heirlooms, and souvenirs help you feel grounded in a turbulent world.

My take? GO for it! Great ideas!! And I love a mohair sofa or chair! Has a higher price tag but the durability will surprise you!

Dampen the Glam. It’s official: Ostentatious design is as passé as a Merrill Lynch spreadsheet. This is not the time for gold-leafed ceilings, hand painted wallpaper, or custom rugs. It is the time, however, for recovering your old furniture, recycling someone else’s castoffs, and shopping smarter. The manageable proportions and humble materials of cottage style should be your guiding principles. There are many retailers who seem have their fingers on the pulse of design trends, offering low-cost versions of high-end furniture and accessories.

My Take? The gold-leaf and hand-painted are gorgeous but not always a wise choice for today’s busy households. Custom rugs are always okay on my list. Personalization is something that makes us all feel like we’ve accomplished something and that we are unique. Create a special rug if its within your budget. Better yet, hire a decorator to help guide you to the right color yarns for the planned room. Dampen the glam maybe, but don’t dull it!

Lighten the Mood. It’s never been more important for our homes to cheer us up. We need inspiration, hope, and humor from our surroundings. Find a piece of art that makes you smile, light the candles for a weeknight dinner, or wallpaper your powder room in a giant-scale, riotous print. A touch of whimsy, like a graphic wall decal or a pair of sari-covered pillows, can brighten the gloomiest of days and remind you of the simple joys of good design.

My take? Yes Yes YES!

Have fun and surround yourself with things you love!


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"A person should design the way he makes a living, around how he wishes to make a life" — Charlie Byrd

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