Friday, 20 April 2018 00:00


create a designer home you can afford

Most of us don’t have the budget to invest in high end designer pieces or an interior decorator, but there is a way to create a home with a designer feel at a price you can afford.

Whether you’re almost paid off your own place, just entered the property market or are still renting while you save for a deposit, having a comfortable and stylish home is on the list of priorities for many of us. Inspiration may spring from an Ikea catalogue or while scrolling on Instagram on Pinterest, while flicking through the latest edition of Country Style or Vogue or even while watching one of the many home improvement television shows on rotation, be it Grand Designs for the more ambitious or Better Homes and Gardens for the easy DIY ideas.

Finding a style which suits your lifestyle and tastes might take a few years to develop and refine, and it will likely evolve over time, but once you’ve found your dream aesthetic, you can begin collecting pieces to collate a living space you genuinely love.

Decide on a style or theme and stick to it

Keeping the colour palette, style and mood of your home consistent throughout will make decorating it easier, plus you can move items from room to room when you’re ready for a mini update. Use a website like Pinterest to create a mood board of the looks and styles you like or collect pictures from magazines and keep them in a ‘style file’. This will help you to determine what you love. Then try to find a common thread through all the pictures you’ve taken - what colours, finishes and styles are you drawn to?

Be patient

Accept it might take a while to source affordable but desirable items. In fact it might take up to 10 years by the time you’ve curated a home filled with really special pieces you love. But by waiting until you find items at an affordable price (rather than impulse buying) you will be saving money short term and be able to enjoy the outcome longterm.


A handful of more expensive pieces of furniture or features to set the tone and act as a focal point, will help to establish a designer aesthetic in your home. A beautiful arm chair, woven rug or marble bench top might be something you have to save up for, but if looked after will last you a lifetime. Keep the rest of your home neural so these can really shine.

Shop Smart, Shop Second Hand

Buying second hand furniture is one of the best ways to fill your home with beautiful statement pieces without the high price tag. Ebay, Gumtree, auctions and even the occasional garage sale will yield treasures if you have a keen eye and are prepared to be patient for opportunities. Invest in styles and brands which have stood the test of time and which are sought after. Research the styles you like and trawl second hand websites such as Ebay and Gumtree. When buying second hand items online ensure to read the full description and check photos closely for damage or scratches and don’t over pay for something just because you love it. Ideally view the item before committing to a purchase.

Shop the Sales

You will likely want a few new pieces for your home. The trick is to only buy items on sale. Once you know what you're after, it’s time to sit back and wait for the end of financial year sales or begin the hunt for ex-floor stock. Do your research and focus on quality over quantity.  

Get the look for less

There’s a growing range of retail stores which offer designer inspired pieces for a fraction of the designer price. In many cases they are functional, (usually) easy to assemble, and as they are neutral with subtle tones and shapes, fit into many different homes. A few hours online and you’ll find stylish furniture and accessories with similar detailing, finishes or shape to those you’ve been lusting after.

Add your personal touches

Don’t underestimate how finishes such paint, wallpaper, flooring and fabrics can impact the quality of your living space and add to the overall look of your interior scheme.  Soft lighting with lamps and warmly rendered globes (avoid the fluorescents bright white lights) will make any space feel and look comfy.  A soft, cosy throw and complimentary cushions will set off a vintage lounge, and a gorgeous piece of art will add colour and interest to a space. Plants always add a touch of glamour into a space. Source vintage brass pots from thrift shops and garage sales and fill them with parlour palms or peace lollies for low maintenance greenery with a touch of gold.

Keep it Simple

Have you ever noticed the spaces we aspire toward are generally uncluttered and simple? We drool over interiors which are spacious and light-filled. They don’t give us a headache with too many colours/styles/patterns/items. They are easy on the eye and therefore easy on the brain and help us to feel calm. It can be hard to pull back when decorating your own home, especially when you’ve gathered lovely things over the years and you want all of them on display, but the key to a designer look is to only showcase a few key things. Simple often equates to stylish if executed with flair and an eye for elegance. Instead of filling your home with lots of cheap furnishings which won’t stand the test of time, invest in a small number of high quality (but affordable) timeless pieces you’ll be able to enjoy for many, many years to come.


Alison Gallagher is a freelance writer, resourcefulness expert and entrepreneur. She has been featured in various publications including Stellar Magazine, Australian Health and Fitness Magazine, and Cleo Magazine. Alison is particularly passionate about sharing practical tips on how to live simply, sustainably and seasonally.