Cost-Saving Home Decor Tricks and When To Splurge

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

I’m wondering if you could do a post and share any cost-saving home decor tricks you’ve used over the years. And, conversely, the times when it makes sense to splurge. I’m so afraid of spending money where it doesn’t make sense.

Thank you,

Anon Amos

 

*********

 

Thank you Anon. That’s a terrific topic.

 

But, of course, there are levels of cost-saving home decor tricks.

 

After all, some of you, have done the most amazing things with NO MONEY. And, I have enormous respect for those who have the time, talent and resources to accomplish that.

I mean, it is possible to get most of your furniture for free off the streets of most large cities. And then, make your own drapes out of cheap sheets. And, slipcovers too. Hell, if you can sew and saw and hit a nail, you can practically build your own house.

 

But, let’s say that you’re a busy working professional, or a mom with four children under the age of seven. Or, just a mom. ;]

 

Therefore, let’s just get this bugaboo out-of-the-way. Yes, you can also get some fantastic deals at estate sales, auctions, thrift shops and the like. And, that’s wonderful.

However, this post is mostly for those who have neither the desire/time nor the skill for heavy-duty DIY projects or hunting and haggling. Some enjoy all of that and some don’t.

Although, there is this post about how to get gorgeous furniture that’s free or almost free.

So, for those that prefer mostly new items. Or items with a guarantee of some sort, I have numerous ways that I have saved money for clients.

 

For this exercise, let’s say that you have $50,000+/-. But, it’s to furnish an entire home from scratch. For now, we’ll exclude kitchen and bathrooms.

Included is a living room, family room, dining room, kitchen furniture, four bedrooms and a home office. And that includes linens, window treatments and accessories.

Well, for anyone who’s furnished their home in one big gulp, they know that the numbers quickly begin to add up.

 

So, let’s dive in with some of my favorite cost-saving home decor tricks, throughout the entire home.

 

And of course, this means not sacrificing quality or making our place appear cheap.

First of all, anything custom is automatically going to cost more money than some that’s WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).

The other thing to remember, is that labor costs, while varying are going to remain fairly constant, as long as the job takes the same length of time. So one great way to save money is on materials.

Usually, but not always.

 

Let’s take paint, to use as an example.

 

Paint A is $60.00/gallon and paint B is $30.00/gallon. At first, it might appear that paint B is the more cost-efficient choice, however, if paint A only takes two coats to cover and paint B takes three coats, then it is possible that it could end up costing MORE to use paint B because of the additional labor and material costs. There’s no sense in saving $300.00 to spend an additional $1,500.00 in labor costs.

 

Therefore, it’s important to factor in any additional costs that might be involved in using a cheaper product.

 

However, sometimes it’s not clear up front if the scenario above will be the case. IMO, paint is not the best place to save money, in any case. In the scheme of things, we are talking a few hundred dollars difference, for a product where we know the color and how it will perform. That is why I’m not a fan of color matching between brands.

In other words, trying to match a color with a computer or app. That’s different from finding an already existing color that is similar as I did with the Farrow and Ball and Benjamin Moore look-alikes.

Aside, from the cost of a kitchen (not included in this budget), the living room or family room is apt to be the most expensive room to furnish. So, that will be our continued focus.

 

Let’s begin at the bottom with your area rugs.

 

Of course, the cheapest solution is to go without one. And sometimes, particularly with dining rooms, this is not a bad idea.

 

Spike Lee

Spike Lee’s townhouse with Oriental rugs and white furniture

 

But, sometimes, a gorgeous hand-knotted wool Oriental rug is something that will make the room.

 

So, depending on budget and the look you’re going for, you might consider doing one Oriental rug.

 

However, there are ways to save here, as well.

I’ve found some great deals on Overstock, Wayfair and One Kings Lane. The latter is with the catalog promo code I’ve nicknamed Laurel’s private sale -lol, or with a sale they might be already having. You can find that info on the Hot Sales page if interested.

Some of my favorite Oriental rugs can be found on the Hot Sales Rug page. Most of the rugs there are hand-knotted and a few aren’t. I’m not as fond of machine-made Oriental rugs. Usually, the abrash is rather fake looking.

 

In addition, some confuse a “hand-tufted” rug with a “hand-knotted” rug.

 

While both rugs are made by hand, there is a big difference in the way they are constructed, and therefore, price, too. The Spruce Blog has an excellent explanation of the difference between the two types of rug construction. The hand-knotted rug is always the more desirable of the two.

 

laying-seagrass-rug-interior-design

A job from a few years ago and the guys laying down a custom seagrass rug with a fireplace cut-out.

But, whenever I really needed to save a client money, we usually did seagrass rugs. Not only are they great looking, they are rugged and inherently soil resistant. But, some of the other natural fiber rugs are terrific too, like jute.

 

home staging expert Lotte Meister - Rye NY interior designers - living room Pueblo Sisal rug

And after this post came out, we found out that this pattern of sisal is actually quite practical. This rug, however, is more expensive than the seagrass rugs. But it’s still much less expensive than the hand-knotted Oriental rugs. One King’s Lane sells it here. (use code OKL20CARD for 20% off!)

 

One of the most expensive pieces of furniture is the sofa, plus other upholstered seating.

 

Most of the time, I do advocate buying high-quality upholstery. But companies like Wayfair and Joss and Main carry lines of very inexpensive upholstery.

And, most of the reviews are terrific. For some examples of some of my favorite inexpensive upholstered pieces, please check out this recent post where I share 24 cheap sofas and chairs that look high-end.

Remember Laura’s incredible living room? She proved that it’s possible to do a beautiful room on a shoe-string budget. (just over $1,100!)

 

Another place I think is a great place to save money are on side, end and occasional tables.

 

There are tons of end tables that are under $250/each and they look great. Generally, speaking, the focus will be more what’s ON the table, than the table, itself. This is especially true if you have an L-shaped configuration of two sofas with a round or square table in between the two sofas. You’ll hardly see it. So, no need to drop a bit wad of cash here.

 

Fabrics are another item with a hugely variable price.

 

For example, the linens at Rogers and Goffigon are gorgeous. However, with an average retail price of at least $180/yard, the costs for draperies, for example, will start to add up.

And, here’s the thing. Unless you’re right on top of the drapes, you won’t notice a difference between a nice $50 linen or a $180 linen.

And, you can also find linens for less than that. I’m talking retail prices, not designer’s wholesale pricing.

The same holds true of your upholstered pieces.

If money is tight, there are many beautiful upholstery fabrics in the $40-$60 range. High-end upholstery fabrics are going to be at least triple that amount.

My favorite sources for these lower-end designer upholstery fabrics are:

Duralee

Robert Allen

Designers, of course, can get their own accounts at these sources, but a great place to get these lines at a good retail price is Decorator’s Best.

 

And my absolute favorite source that I’m about to reveal because someone must’ve spiked my coffee with sodium pentothal is:

 

Norbar Fabrics

 

Yes, I know. Their website with the gray background is not very chic-looking. However, this terrific company has been my go-to source since before I began my business. I’ve placed hundreds of orders with them and never had a problem. How rare is that!!!

Like, never. That’s how rare.

 

However. This is important.

 

Norbar has some gorgeous fabrics and they also have some that I wouldn’t line my birdcage with. So, you need samples. But what you’re looking for primarily are the wonderful linens and cottons, prints, etc. They also have some nice velvets, textures and wovens. And, that’s what I’m recommending. It really is a designer line and if you place some orders, they will send you a box of sample books a few times a year. I would call them and find out who your local rep is.

Norbar is in the back of Laurel’s Rolodex as one of the 35 or so sources I can’t live without.

However, I did find one online source that sells Norbar Fabrics at a very good retail price for the non-design pros. You can access it here at Source 4 Interiors.

My other favorite source for designer fabrics at a very good retail price online is Decorator’s Best. There is some overlap at the source above. However, just being honest. If you purchase from Decorator’s Best, (after clicking that link) I’ll receive a little commish (at no extra charge to you.) However, with Source 4 Interiors, I will not. Do not pay any attention to their crossed out prices. That is marketing BS. But, you guys already know that!

 

This is important. This post linked below is a MUST read for everyone.

 

It hi-lights some 15 hideous mistakes I made over the years with fabric. As I always say; please learn from my mistakes.

 

I

 

Another online source for surprisingly cheap cottons and linens is Big Duck Canvas. I have never ordered from them, but their prices are excellent.

 

Of course, some of the cheapest, but nicest looking curtains are the ready-made ones. This post talks about some tricks to get them looking their best.

 

Sometimes, for clients, I would splurge on two of the chairs, say two slipper chairs with some more expensive fabric.

 

But, where I ALWAYS splurged is with the throw pillows.

 

The throw pillows are what you SEE, not the fabric behind them.

Rich looking pillows = rich room

Cheap looking pillows = cheap room.

 

But, but, but…PILLOWS. I ALWAYS had them made totally custom.

 

And, so, so much work! I often went to the workroom to pick them up. Huge bags of pillows that I would schlep home to store in my basement until we were ready. However, aside from that, I sometimes spent more time figuring out the throw pillows than I did the furniture they were sitting on! Often, there was also a trim or contrasting welt. And then, I had to order the inserts, as well.

Who knew that the throw pillows took hours to put together? Some of you DO know. :]

But now, there’s ETSY!!!

There are too many to count wonderful vendors on Etsy who all they do is make and sell pillow covers. You still have to provide the inserts. But, the prices are so affordable. Please note however, that is partly because they frequently will only do the expensive fabric on one side. But you can order it on both sides for an upcharge.

Here are two posts that I think you’ll find helpful in regard to the throw pillows and sources.

Everything you always wanted to know about throw pillows

33 of my favorite sources on Etsy.

 

Please note that there are many more sources from Etsy, Chairish and One Kings Lane sources in the latest version of Laurel’s Rolodex.

 

uh oh…  the following is for Rolodex owners.

 

Laurels Rolodex - Fifth Edition November 2018

For Rolodex owners who are reading this and going, “Do I have the latest version?”

 

You definitely should. However, if you haven’t been good boys and girls and saved it someplace safe, please know that I still love you. But, BEFORE you send me an email, please look for the download link you were sent last November. Here’s what you do. Do a search of your computer. On a Macbook, there’s a magnifying glass in the top right. Click it and put in your search. If you have a PC, this is a tutorial.

If you’ve saved it to your I-pad, it’s in I-books.

 

You can also search your email.

 

Put in either “Rolodex” or “Send Owl.” If you put in Laurel, you’ll get all of my emails. Or try “Rolodex update.” If you still can’t find it, please check your spam folder.

ANY DOWNLOAD LINK you have (from Sendowl, my shopping cart) will give you the latest download of Laurel’s Rolodex. The latest version came out last November and says 5th Edition on the cover.

 

Okay, let’s please move on with some more cost-saving home decor tricks. But, let’s talk for a sec about where else it’s wise to splurge.

 

Certainly with anything that’s a focal point– like a fireplace mantel.

Sometimes art. But there are lots of cheap ways to get art. (like paint it yourself) :]

OR, something that speaks to you like nI have two such items. One is my antique Zuber screen. We were just strolling around New Preston,  Connecticut circa 2001. And then, I saw it. It was mad love at first sight and I HAD to have it.

 

my desk with zuber screen - turquoise ming lamp

$2,000 later, it was mine.

I would’ve paid $3,000. That’s how much I love it.

The other is my antique bookcase (to the left of the screen) that cost me far more, including the custom paint job that took the painter five days to complete. But what a great job she did!

 

William Hodgins Zuber screen dining room

A similar screen in a dining room by William Hodgins

 

Let’s talk a little about lighting and ways to save money.

 

I think that a great place to splurge are on table lamps. They are like the jewelry in the room. And, they are pieces that stand out. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a ton for great looking lamps. I love this post and I know that a lot of you did too. It talks about how to find cheap lamps that look expensive and a some easy tricks to upgrade a cheap lamp so that it looks expensive.

Another place one can save money and not sacrifice the look is with chandeliers. This post is devoted to that.

 

Laurel, please tell us, what is the one thing that gives you the most bang for your buck?

 

Oh, give me something difficult! That one is too easy. But, actually there are two. The first one is too obvious which is why I need two. Paint is the number one way to transform a space. And, getting the right color is so important. But it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. That’s what a lot of lay people seem to forget. Paint is a piece of the decorating puzzle that’s completely dependent on everything else in the room and the surrounding areas. And more!

 

But, in the number two position and actually, in some ways it’s an even bigger bang for your buck, IMO are applied wall mouldings.

 

There are several posts about applied wall mouldings. Everything from ceiling, crown moulding, panel moulding, chair rails, base boards and wainscoting.

This is a post about a boxy, boring home and more ideas.

And another post about a boxy ranch with low ceilings.

 

French home - interior design Jean Louis Deniot - photo: Simon Upton - Elle Decor

photo: Simon Upton

 

Jean Louis Deniot did this beautiful design, they say for a young woman’s first apartment.

Huh?

I wonder what her second apartment will look like?

Gosh, am I done, yet?

I think so.

 

NO, wait!!! Don’t go. I’m not done. I’ve saved the best for last and almost forgot to tell you. Blimey!

 

In my internet travels, I found a company on Etsy that sells, get this- ready-made applied wall mouldings. No nails. Just stick it on the wall. AND, they’re removable. But, if you want to make them permanent, all you need to do is caulk the edges.

The wall below with the nine boxes is either $459 or $559. Very reasonable.

 

Luxe Architectural instant DIY moulding kits

I made this little graphic of some of their mouldings. I’m quite impressed with this. And, as you can see, it’s called Luxe Architectural.

 

They also make mouldings for doors. And, they’ll make something custom, too. They can pre-paint. I’m not sure if there’s a choice of colors or not.

Now, I’m done. haha.

 

But, do you guys have any favorite cost-saving home decor tricks you’d like to share?

 

Please let us know in the comments.

xo,

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Cyndi - April 20, 2019 - 8:19 PM

    What a great commentary! Sounds very French!!
    I will use this as guidance for decor for my new home!ReplyCancel

  • Donna Webb - April 17, 2019 - 7:15 PM

    My parents sent me to a finishing school for social graces. One of lessons I learned in the fashion class seems to be true in decorating as well and you point it out in this blog post. “If one main piece our your outfit is of good quality (say a beautiful blazer) then no one will notice that your blouse underneath is not of the same quality.” As you mentioned, two great sofas in and “L” shape need not have an expensive corner table mostly hidde from view. So pick a focal point and make it really special and don’t think that you have to have everything in the room (or outfit) just as expensive to make a lovely statement.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 18, 2019 - 11:39 AM

      Hi Donna,

      I’ve often found a number of parallels between fashion and interiors. Thanks so much for your great comment!ReplyCancel

  • Becky - April 12, 2019 - 8:58 PM

    In the past year or two, I’ve developed a love of Oriental rugs (and I adore the way the Oriental rug is used in Spike Lee’s townhome). I’ve found that gently used Karastan machine-woven wool rugs are available on eBay, and are more in my price range, even when professional rug washing is factored in. Have you run across Karastan machine woven rugs, and what do you think of their quality/aesthetics? Do you think their abrash looks contrived or fake?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 14, 2019 - 2:00 AM

      Hi Becky,

      I’ve seen their rugs but it’s been a few years now. I’ve done some machine-made rugs before for clients. But, sometimes you can also get great deals on hand-knotted rugs on Ebay or on Overstock.ReplyCancel

  • May - April 8, 2019 - 12:25 PM

    Gasp – so many great ideas!

    Mine to share is, Ikea for linen curtains, the Lejongap. They’re good quality for the money, but of course they look a bit skimpy without proper lining (like a dress without decent lining), so, my solution is to (a) buy another pair (maybe in a contrasting colour) and hang one in front of the other, or (b) buy a contrasting pair, and use them as liners. And buy double if you want a bit more floof side-to-side. Still way cheaper than decent custom drapes. I swop mine winter-to-summer as well (if it ever stops wintering).

    I also find decent quality “used” Persian rugs on Kijiji (Canada’s Craigslist). If they’re grubby, just get them professionally laundered, and you’ll save $$$ because people sell grubby aged rugs dirt cheap, not realizing they’ve still got another few decades of use in them.

    That’s so sad about Robert Allen!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 8, 2019 - 6:17 PM

      Hi May,

      I don’t believe that Robert Allen is out of business, just reorganizing.ReplyCancel

  • Harry - April 5, 2019 - 1:26 PM

    Thank you for all the useful information and visual examples. Regarding picture frame wall mouldings, can they be applied over mildly textured orange-peeled walls? The walls appear smooth in all the examples. The staircase from your 1991 home is very inspirational. Thanks again.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 5, 2019 - 4:33 PM

      Hi Harry,

      I would say no, for a few reasons. One, they might appear a little lumpy. but, the overriding issue is that the panel moulding is suppose to simulate rail and stile panel wainscoting which is made entirely of wood. It’s an optical illusion. But from a distance, it’s very difficult to tell if it’s the raised wood rail and stile or if it it is only the panel moulding inset flat against the wall. Please visit the post about wainscoting for more info.ReplyCancel

  • susie - April 4, 2019 - 5:55 PM

    one of my favorite things that seems to pop up in today’s rooms is a large colored glass vessel of some sort (find them for $15 at a certain store) and then fill it with an oversized flower/vegetation arrangement that gives the appearance you have a small tree in your room!!ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - April 4, 2019 - 2:14 PM

    I’ve always gone by the old saying:
    “It can be cheap, good, or fast. Pick two.”ReplyCancel

  • mrsben - April 4, 2019 - 9:47 AM

    Totally appreciate the excellent tips Laurel and hope you don’t mind me adding a few more. As (a hobby sewer) I would like to warn those a) When purchasing their toss cushions to avoid those that have ‘dog ears and if not familar with the term, do a web search. b) Secondly to achieve a custom appearance; when purchasing ready-made window/drapery coverings I highly recommend that you choose the longest length, apply to your fixed rod, remove the hemline stitching and let them relax for a few days. Pin and adjust where necessary (as not all industrial made panels are identical in length nor are floors necessarily level), then re-hem with appropriate width. i.e. standard 3″ double hem though depths can vary. (If you don’t have a sewing machine, take them to a sewing kiosk if necessary.) As for choosing furniture (particularly living room chairs or perhaps a bench seat) consider double-duty. In other words, will the same chair work elsewhere? Perhaps in a bedroom if/when you decide on a change in your LR layout. Last but not least in respect to the issue of Wall and Door Moulding DIY Kits and not to dispute those you make reference to are reasonably priced and can be custom made to specs; it is a easy process for one to do themselves with a required few supplies. (You Tube provides many tutorials on ‘how-to’. Also shall mention my go-to adhesive to securing them to the surface is a product called ‘No More Nails’.) Apologize for being so long-winded and also thank you for the wonderful fabric links. -Brenda-ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 4, 2019 - 2:35 PM

      Hi Brenda,

      Thanks for all of your input as always. The only thing is… making a clean mitered corner cut at the precise length would not be easy for me, no matter how many tutorials were out there. I’m not good a sewing, either. You happen to have an exceptional inborn talent for these things, so maybe it’s difficult to understand that not everyone does.ReplyCancel

  • Amy Holmes - April 4, 2019 - 9:11 AM

    Laurel – I’d love to see more detailed posts on how to use moldings – styles, do’s and don’ts, good and bad examples, prioritizing. For example, can you put it on one wall (behind a bed for example), or is that a no-no and it should be on all walls of a room? Can/how do you stop it at the “end of a room” and not take it to the hallway assuming you don’t have a door frame/header separation? Crown molding when you have an open plan with varying ceiling heights? Etc. I’d love to add some moldings, but can’t go all out and don’t want to end up with any cheesy or badly executed. I feel confident with decor, but this is different.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 4, 2019 - 2:31 PM

      Hi Amy,

      There are other posts linked to in this post that talk about some of these specifics. But, there are hundreds of them. So, it’s difficult to go over each one. And, I don’t have all of the answers, either. This is why it’s recommended to work with an experienced carpenter with a developed taste level and who understand scale and proportion. Great communication and problem-solving are also essential ingredients for a good result.

      And, possibly, do your own research if there’s a question you have. There’s a good possibility that someone on a design forum, or something in an article talks bout the same issue.ReplyCancel

  • Julie Shuchman - April 3, 2019 - 5:52 PM

    Hi Laurel:
    Thanks for helping those of us who lack big fat wallets. I saved this post. But it would be great to have a post on vintage- antique shopping, a fantastic and green way to save money. I love Etsy, Chairish and a site you don’t mention much, EBay! My response to vintage – antique shopping on OKL is “meh!” The secret is that many items are double and triple listed on all these sites and a shopper has to hunt for the best deal. I have far more bargaining power on Chairish, Etsy and EBay.( true no free shipping as on OKL) so you have to shop wisely . Still for us wheelers and dealers, the first 3 websites are a lot more fun- like shopping at an online flea market . In any case, it would be nice to have one of your superb posts on saving money with vintage- or antiques. And please check out EBay….if you haven’t been there recently. Would be nice to see some EBay items in your Friday night widgets.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 11:03 PM

      Hi Julie,

      I have linked to Ebay on here many times. I’ll try to do it more often. There’s more crap to have to weed through is sometimes the problem.

      The promo code OKL20CARD does give 20% off ALL vintage items on OKL. It’s not a regular sale. In other words, it’s not supposed to work, but it does! And, the code also gives 20% off of the items that are already on sale. At that level, I find that the prices are quite attractive and competitive if not actually lower.

      I can’t link to Chairish any longer in the widgets because they took themselves off of that network. But, I still love the site.ReplyCancel

  • Katie - April 3, 2019 - 5:42 PM

    Love this post! I’m among those who doesn’t have much to spend on my home, nor do I necessarily have much time to hunt for good deals. About 90% of my furniture is either from Craigslist, a family member, or…yep, I admit it…Ikea. Our living room sofa, bought three years ago, was our latest “big splurge,” and that was around 3k.

    I love Etsy and use it all the time, but I did just want to say that there’s a bit of caveat emptor to keep in mind. It may be particularly important to get swatches. I ordered some pillow covers in what looked like a lovely linen—and it was—but it turns out the weave was very open and see-through, not at all what I anticipated for upholstery/pillow cover purposes. I have two cats and although they don’t scratch pillows, I had snags within days just from them walking across and getting their claws caught. BUT what I do love about Etsy is often you can get some customizations for little to no cost increase (“this fabric but in that size,” etc.).

    Speaking of pillow cover fabric, do you have any suggestions of fabric for those that need machine washability? Our living room is also our family room/den/playroom/only family hang-out space with two small kids, aforementioned cats, and big dog and we do eat in there sometimes, too. Well, the humans do. I’ve been going with cottons, and linen blends, but it often seems like every nice pillow cover I see is dry-clean or spot-clean only, and I throw my pillow covers in the wash about once a month. Obviously nice designer fabrics tend not to be machine washable, but maybe there are alternatives out there…ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 10:55 PM

      Hi Katie,

      Yes, absolutely. If one is not familiar with a fabric and/or the company/designer, then samples are a must. As a designer, I’m already familiar with most of the fabrics or at least the vendor. One can and should also ask questions of the Etsy vendor if any doubts.

      As for washable pillow covers, there are some wonderful indoor/outdoor fabrics, as well as ready-made pillow covers. And then, anything that’s 100% polyester can go straight into the washing machine. These days, poly is no longer synonymous with shiny/tacky. But of course, some still are. So, definitely samples.

      Outdoor fabric is solution dyed acrylic. And, there are some designers designing outdoor fabrics, too. For example, these Schumacher fabrics.

      And you can find them for sale at Decorator’s Best.

      But, there are other brands on there too that sell outdoor fabrics. And I’m pretty sure that you can get the pillow covers in many of these fabrics as well on Etsy.ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - April 3, 2019 - 1:30 PM

    If you’re shopping for things on the major home retailer websites (One Kings Lane, Pottery Barn, Target, etc.), I highly recommend the web plug-in Shoptagr. If you see something you like that is currently full price, you just click the little Shoptagr icon, and it saves it for you. Then it emails you when there’s a sale. (Note – this works for other things, too, like clothing, and I find it prevents a lot of impulse purchased, as once sale hits I often find I don’t actually want the thing that much anymore).ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D - April 3, 2019 - 12:38 PM

    Hi Laurel-
    Duralee/Robert Allen are reorganizing but are definitely open for business and still selling beautiful fabrics and amazing trim:) Thanks for the great blog!!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 9:34 PM

      Oh, that’s good to know. They’ve both been around for so long and I did a lot of business with them and always thought that they were well-run companies. But things change and the entire industry has certainly changed in the last 20 years.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Jane - April 3, 2019 - 12:09 PM

    Laurel, I just love you!! You have the BEST posts. You can also read my mind: “Wait, do I have the updated Rolodex?!?” Ha! Ha! That’s what I was literally thinking. Thank you thank you for the work you pour into this amazing blog!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 2:55 PM

      Hi Mary Jane,

      Well, I know you guys pretty well. And, I know it’s easy to lose track of these things because I do! And, many people don’t know how to look for things. I wouldn’t if I wasn’t running a website. The only other thing on my wishlist is that when people get a new email address that they employ email forwarding to the new email address. I wouldn’t have been able to function had I not used that function when I switched over five years ago.ReplyCancel

  • suzanne - April 3, 2019 - 11:48 AM

    Thank you for all the links to the trim mouldings. We are building a barndo with polished concrete floors. Wondering if such a traditional detail would look odd with the rustic/modern look of the floor. Can’t wait to read those links!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 2:52 PM

      Hi Suzanne,

      It depends what else is going on and what kind of mouldings. Usually for something more rustic, you’ll have board and batten with or without shiplap or beadboard. So, any mouldings are going to be very simple. But, whenever I’m wondering about something, I’ll do a search, usually on pinterest to see if I can find any good examples for inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • Lily - April 3, 2019 - 11:14 AM

    When I bought my house, I went shopping for a buffet and found a fellow who was running a small thrift shop to support the ballet company he runs. I went for one piece and came away with a locally-made antique buffet, a 19th-century chest of drawers his grandmother had brought from England when she moved, and a rather twee little coffee table. I think I gave him $275 total.

    In my garage I have a chifferobe in terrible shape that I picked up for $20 /delivered/. Basically everything except the framing is shot. Someday when I have a place to put it, I’m going to replace all the veneer, turn the empty drawer slots into shelves with glass garage doors, and paint it a whisp of a green.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 2:50 PM

      “Thrift shop to support the ballet company he runs.” Now, THAT is a win-win!!!ReplyCancel

  • Gail Caryn - April 3, 2019 - 11:06 AM

    Loved your post Laurel. I just found out from the commercial furniture manufacturer that is doing the upholstered furniture for my new seniors residence that Robert Allen has filed for Chapter 11. When we did our existing residence we used some absolutely gorgeous RA fabrics that were so inexpensive but there was no up charge. For the new building I’ve had to select from a bunch of ugly fabrics that cost an arm and a leg. The designer is just beside himself because Robert Allen has been his go to company for years. There is still a ton of their fabric floating around in the marketplace but you can’t order anything that’s not in stock. Booohoooooo.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - April 3, 2019 - 11:01 AM

    It’s something everyone knows about but I love it anyway–CraigsList. I have furnished a lot of my home from it but not easily or quickly. If you are particular, and I am, it can take years. The key for me is patience and a willingness to wait until the right thing comes along.

    My most recent purchase (just two days ago) is a fantastic mirrored nightstand for the guest bedroom. Having been looking at these for several months and not being willing to spend money for a good one I was gobsmacked when I saw it; the design was such that it would be priced at $500-$650 new. And this one looks brand new. I paid $100 and beat out at least two dozen others who wanted it.ReplyCancel

  • KL - April 3, 2019 - 9:59 AM

    Duralee and Robert Allen are both in Chapter 11.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Ellen - April 3, 2019 - 8:01 AM

    If the furniture you ordered online is cheap/inferior, damaged, or not the item you ordered, request customer service email a prepaid return shipping label and have it picked up where it was delivered.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 10:57 AM

      Hi Mary Ellen,

      Thank you; not sure what you’re referring to. But, yes, great advice!ReplyCancel

  • Anne - April 3, 2019 - 8:00 AM

    You are the Queen of Linking – well done! This post alone could be a college course as it touches on so many elements of design and decorating. Thanks for sharing Luxe Architectural with us. What a GREAT idea!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 10:55 AM

      Hi Anne,

      Yes, this post, for sure. I think there might be a number record of links. And, I’m sure that I missed some too.ReplyCancel

  • Ani Yessaillian - April 3, 2019 - 7:29 AM

    Another great post!!! Here’s my favorite to share with your audience…

    Purchase faux bamboo headboards from places like e-bay, chairish, or palm beach vintage shops – all of which you can do quite inexpensively (and you can negotiate price). Then apply some elbow grease to sand and paint them using a better quality paint.

    P.S. After setting up your beds, purchase some gorgeous pillow covers from ETSY as suggested in this post. So many amazing and talented women – many will offer suggestions for sizing and fabric combinations.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 10:53 AM

      Thanks so much Ani for the great tip! Paint can give something old a new lease on life!ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten - April 3, 2019 - 6:34 AM

    Thanks for this great post! I got some large lined curtains made up by Jane Clayton in the UK. I nearly fainted when I costed up the pencil pleat curtains, but when I went for tab top, the price came within my affordable range. With tab tops it’s important not to skimp on the width. Sine the room had a large bay window, and a smaller window on a different wall, I got plain, off the shelf curtains in a solid colour which picked out one of the colours in the main curtains, which were patterned. Since the bay window curtains were the show stopper, it was ok to let the end wall window curtains be the support act – and in fact kept the room from being too busy with pattern.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 10:52 AM

      Hi Kirsten,

      That’s interesting. It’s a lot more work to make tab top curtains than pinch or pencil pleat. One thing about tab top curtains that I learned the hard way is that they are more difficult to open and close– especially if the tabs are on the small side.ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - April 3, 2019 - 5:13 AM

    Hello Laurel, Recently I made a list of all the furniture I have gotten for free over the years, and it amounted to 127 pieces (46 for Taiwan alone), and I could have gotten much more. This does not include inheritances, but does include downsizings. I also included a few incredible bargains, such as a 19th century, solid black walnut drop-leaf table for $5. Some of this furniture was temporary, but a lot of it is good, and I would keep it even with a large decorating budget.

    So many people are willing to give away furniture, especially when downsizing. We had friends who were emptying their family house, and we could have gotten for free a perfect condition, black-and-white mid-century bedroom set, that would have furnished a guest room for nothing, or even the master bedroom.

    Bookshelves can be inexpensive, and although I do read mine, I agree with the snooty girlfriend in Auntie Mame about books’ decorative qualities:


    (three-second clip!)

    One way to save money is not to buy every type of furniture available–for the time being, you could do with out coffee tables, extra dining chairs, etc. It is better to concentrate money and effort on a few good pieces. A lot of rooms look over-decorated anyway, so crowded that there is no way to quickly rearrange the furniture for either a party or an intimate conversation.

    Although I have a few economy tips, I could write the book on splurging!
    –JimReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2019 - 10:50 AM

      Wow Jim! That’s a lot of free furniture. I agree with the coffee table. And, they make some very nice looking bamboo folding chairs. They’re super cheap. I have a link to them on my Hot Sales page.ReplyCancel

  • Valo - April 3, 2019 - 2:18 AM

    Muahahahaha!!!!! “it is possible to get most of your furniture for free off the streets of most large cities”. This is the Best phrase ever. Love you love you love you!!! I’m waiting for a blog post for people who has enormous amount of time and patience. I’m intrigued.. what if! Laurel you’re fantastic, did I tell you? btw Have you ever written anything about loo? Favorites, how to mix shapes with basins …and do you have to buy everything from one set ?( No, I guess no, just a thought!)ReplyCancel