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How to Create Insta-Worthy Home Décor On A Tight Budget

Arielle Gray, Esq., Associate Broker @ Keller Williams Realty NYC Group

You’ve just landed a new place. Let’s be real; in NYC, that isn’t always easy. Even if your spot isn’t new, it can be nice to switch up the décor from time to time. Whether you live in a modest studio apartment or something a bit more sizable, everyone deserves a place they can be proud of. Interior designers Betsy Helmuth, owner of Affordable Interior Design and Juliette Von Hess, owner of Minimax,  gave us their thoughts on how to design a great space without crushing your wallet.

Create a Plan

Think about the type of vibe you want in your place. Are you going for a sleek and modern look? Is bohemian more your style?  Check out furniture and décor shops, in person and online. Listen to an interior design podcast.  You can also look through décor photos on Instagram, Pinterest and other social channels for insight on what’s new and trending.

Don’t be afraid to ask an expert for help. The thought of working with an interior designer may seem intimidating. But having a little direction can actually save you money. A skilled designer can recognize problem spots and make little changes that go a long way. As Helmuth puts it, “As designers, our first job is to solve problems. Our second job is to make it look good.” Interior designer websites are a great resource for getting started as well. Many designers feature photos of past work and mood boards on their sites. Mood boards are single page layouts that present a collection of pieces that work well together.

For many people, getting the space organized is a necessary step before they can even begin to approach décor. This is especially true for those already settled in their homes that want to try on a new look.

Choose a Color

Once you’ve gotten your design juices flowing, give some attention to color. As Helmuth puts it, “Changing the main color can affect the whole feeling of the room.” Painting the entire room or even just an accent wall is an inexpensive method. There are so many new and exciting shades of color to work with. It’s worth a trip to the hardware store to pick up swatches. Removable wallpaper and other decals are options as well.  They definitely come in handy if you are renting and can’t make any permanent changes.

Consider the Layout

Think about the type of layout you are working with. Unless you’ve got some dough to spend, there’s a good chance you won’t have too much space. This is why it’s important to embrace the space you have and be realistic about what works best. Helmuth advises against dividing the room with large pieces and instead suggests separating the room with color. There are a few ways to achieve this.

Area rugs can do wonders to create lines around spaces you’d like to define. A well-placed rug will also insulate the room and filter out some of the noise from your downstairs neighbors. The same goes for drapes. According to Helmuth, “Drawing your eyes up helps people focus not on square footage but instead on height.” In addition, it’s another way to add areas of color without damaging the walls or having to hire a painter.

Before you bring new furniture and other larger items into the space, think about how their placement will affect lighting. The brighter your place is, the bigger it will look. Von Hess, who specializes in minimalist design, stresses the beauty of natural light. “It’s important to maintain visibility throughout the apartment … keep the light flowing while also designating different areas.”

Get Inspired

When you are searching for ideas, you should always be on the lookout for that something special. Helmuth likes to call this an inspiration piece. “An inspiration piece will help you not only determine what the style of the room will be but also it dictates all the colors that you will be able to use in the room.” Finding a piece with three or more colors is a great way of setting the tone for a space. Once you find that special piece, you can build the rest of the room around it. Swapping out colorful pieces against neutral colored walls is great for those who want to change décor more frequently.

Be Bold

Just as useful as colors, are heavy patterns. Having too many of them at once will obviously clash and make the space feel more cluttered. But a few patterned pieces can add splashes of color.

“Textiles… curtains pillows, rugs, throws, can all be used to incorporate that pattern,” says Von Hess. If you want something new but don’t want to let go of that perfectly stuffed pillow or comfortable couch, consider reupholstering the item.  Throw pillows, in particular, are very inexpensive to cover.

Find Purpose

What about the items that you don’t want to display?  Your out-of-season clothes, bronzed baby shoes, and that stack of old papers you’ve been meaning to shred, all need someplace to go. Storage facilities are popping up in the city almost as quickly as residential buildings. But paying rent and a storage bill isn’t always the most practical or cost-effective solution.

Resist the urge to throw your belongings into stackable plastic bins and get creative. Helmuth and Von Hess suggest a simple solution: doors. Wardrobes, cabinets or other containers with doors that keep your belongings totally out of view are always a good idea.

Repurposing old items is another fun way to switch things up.  That cabinet you use for storage could have formally held something else. You can also change the look of the repurposed item between uses. Von Hess suggests, “Funky locks, temporary vinyl wallpaper… Stick that on a cabinet, a dresser drawer.” Such simple changes can yield impressive results, for little cost.

Make It Your Own

You’ve pulled together most of the look but still want to put your unique mark on it. This is where personal items, photographs, mementos, or just good ole’ unique flea market finds come into play. Also, you can also never go wrong with art. “Even if we don’t have a lot of square footage, we all have walls… [if you move] artwork can almost always go with you,” says Helmuth.

Try decor ideas that take you out of your comfort zone.  You may be surprised at how cool it turns out. Of all the design tips and techniques you can utilize, perhaps the most important is that you make it your own. Best of all, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a space that you actually enjoy coming home to.

Betsy Helmuth is the owner of Affordable Interior Design and a nationally celebrated interior designer. She has appeared on the Today Show, HGTV, DIY Network, CBS, NBC, and in dozens of magazines and newspapers…Read Full Bio

Juliette Von Hess is the founder of Minimax Life. A professional home organizing service specializing in unpacking, de-clutter, space solutions all with a signature designer esthetic…Read Full Bio

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Be heard! Leave your apartment, condo, and coop building reviews at Go Home NY! Know a building's managers are awful? Have the inside line on a perfect building? Anything in between? Express your voice and be heard. Leave a review at Go Home NY.

Be Heard at Go Home NY

Be heard! Leave your apartment, condo, and coop building reviews at Go Home NY! Know a building's managers are awful? Have the inside line on a perfect building? Anything in between? Express your voice and be heard. Leave a review at Go Home NY.

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