Well decorated spaces usually require a big budget: buying a couch, or a dining table, is no small purchase. Even more “approachable” spaces usually have a few high-ticket items to bring in sophistication. But as well all know (especially if you are an avid reader of Ikea catalogues) great design can come at all prices. It’s just so much harder to achieve when you are budget-challenged. This Newport Beach home, designed by Lada Webster, is a refreshing reminder that low-cost finds can look good if you have a good eye and stick to design principles. We caught up with her to find out how she worked her magic.
First things first, how do you come up with a look that feels high end? What are the most important elements to keep in mind to make sure you have the most stylish result?
Understand your client. Scour through their treasures, most of the time they have great pieces tucked away in the corner of a closet. Choose pieces that look original or unique. Too many off the shelf pieces can take away from the high end look. AND, always add loads of texture. Texture always makes a space feel lux, guaranteed.
How do you find a hidden gem in an affordable store? How do you know that in a different context it could look high end?
It’s all about blending items well. We are so lucky to have stores like Target and HomeGoods. You can easily find great pieces and pair them with clients own treasures passed down from the previous generation or collections from travels. When choosing pieces from affordable stores, be hands on. Touch it, hold it and imagine it on top of a stack of glamorous coffee table books or on a shelf sitting next to grandma’s vintage Hermes plate.
How do you look for pieces in consignment stores? Could you share a few of your brick and mortar and online favorites?
I don’t know if there are any rules on how to find the perfect piece for your project. You just kind of have to have a vision on the potential of the piece. Ask yourself a few questions —
Does it need to be refinished? If so, am I able to do this myself or do I need to hire someone to do this for me. Calculate how much extra you need to add to the piece. If it’s too much and not worth it, keep walking. Again, this all goes back to budget and the impact of the piece in the space.
My favorite go to online sources are Ebay and Craigslist. They never fail me.
What is one thing that you can’t compromise on no matter what the budget? Somewhere you might have to splurge a little…
ART! I always make sure there is great art and good framing. It doesn’t have to be expensive – buy from local artists, good art vendors and Etsy. Having them framed well is key. NO flimsy poster frames. Cheap prints and plastic frames really does a disservice to the whole space.
What is a mis-conception about design that you see hold some of your clients back?
I constantly hear clients’ say – I want it to be timeless. Well, the truth is, you are more than likely to redecorate your home in 5-10 years. Instead of focusing so much on “classics” and leaving out your personality. Enjoy some of the trends! That’s what they are there for. Don’t be afraid to pop an emerald green leopard print chair in the space. Live and love it.
What’s the biggest design mistake you see people doing that makes a space feel cheap?
Really cheap window treatments, the shimmery faux silk looking ones from aisle 9. I get it, custom drapery can really put a dent in the budget. If custom drapery isn’t an option, choose pre-fab drapery panels carefully. Choose one that has a nice feel and look to it, some even come lined. Also, fancy up those pre-fab panels by using drapery rings, instead of scrunching it over a drapery rod. This will totally make a difference. Trust.
In this project what were your most exciting finds?
I would say the most exciting find was the hand painted, color blocked antler. It’s just an odd little piece that I thought was so special. I’m sure most would walk right past it, but I knew that it was the finishing piece for the cocktail table. Not to mention, it was $12.99.
How did you envision the space? What were the most important aspects that you wanted to highlight?
Listening to your client should always set the mood for the space. She wanted a comfortable, bohemian inspired sanctuary, but didn’t want to feel like she stepped into Coachella. So with that said, I focused on keeping accessories minimal and adding texture for the comfort factor. Sometimes with bohemian inspired spaces, they can easily get mucked up with too many accessories. By keeping them minimal, each piece can be enjoyed for what it is.
How do you make a space feel finished?
EDITING. This is probably the most important part of finishing a space. Too much of this or too little of that can really take away from all the thought and hard work put into designing a home. Once I’ve styled a space, I step back and take it all in. I may need to move things around again or just take it away and keep it away. Don’t force something that has no business being there.