Skip to main content

Tag: high end look for less

Savvy Solutions to Get a High-End Look for Less

I just returned from a weekend away giving design talks at the Hudson Valley Home Show in Upstate New York.  It was the second opportunity for me to partner with HGTV Magazine + TD Bank for their Rolling Renovation Tour which has stretched from Maine to Miami since February and will continue through June.

Presenting at the Hudson Valley Home Show in New York

For this design presentation + the previous one in Boston a few weeks back, I shared DIY ideas + savvy solutions to get the high end look for less.

Designer tips + tricks + solutions to get a high-end look for less in the home. Check out how this designer breaks it down + shares how to achieve high-end style but on a budget!

As a recap if you had the opportunity to meet me at the show OR if you too are in need of tips to get a designer-look for less, this post is dedicated to sharing the scoop…

Let’s dive in…


When wanting to revamp a space(s), start out by FINDING INSPIRATION. Flip through design magazines + peruse the web to gather spaces that you like and that you feel reflect your style.  Start a board dedicated to the space(s) on your Pinterest account and pin things pictures that catch your eye.  Search for spaces using key words that reflect what you like, ie: industrial, farmhouse, or modern.

During the process of gathering inspiration, ASK YOURSELF:

> What do you like about the space?

> What appeals to you?  Is it the the style that the overall space evokes OR does one item in the room catch your eye (ie: rug, art, window treatments, etc)



With your inspiration in hand, establish a BUDGET. How much can you really spend?  A few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars?  A range is fine, but knowing how much you can devote to the project will keep you on track.

Then create a VISION BOARD. Big or small I put together a mood board / vision board for every project – personal and for clients.  It keeps me on track when shopping to know what will work together and what won’t.  Referencing the vision board makes shopping easy to stay on track.

>>> this is the design board I created before the kitchen renovation <<<

Kitchen Design Board


Go through the space(s) and ask yourself piece by piece, is this worth keeping or should I ditch it?  It can be difficult to part with things, especially when they are sentimental items, but if it doesn’t work for the space, it’s not worth keeping.  Try moving the item(s) to another room OR give it to a friend or family member.


With inspiration + a plan in place, it’s time to execute the project and pull the space together to make it a reality.

When the time comes to purchasing the items, my rule of thumb is to spend more on the items that will last and spend less on the layers.  Items like a sofa, chair(s), or a rug that you want to ‘live’ for years to come, should be quality items.  Then for the layers of pillows, side tables, and accessories, spend less.   Those layers are necessary to give the room character, but they’re often items that you may want to change in a year or even seasonally.  If you don’t spend a lot, then you’ll be more inclined to swap it out to get a freshened look.

Tight on Budget? Make a statement.  Choose one oversized piece as a focal point. Try a vibrant wallpaper or oversized art or a dynamic light fixture.  Those bold statement pieces will draw the eye in.

And lastly…


Want examples?  I have plenty to share…

One of my favorite all-time projects are the horizontal painted striped panels that I made a few years back for the living room.

During the design process, I was drawn to this gorgeous space, specifically the long white panels with thick navy horizontal stripes.


I achieved a similar look by adding tape to white cotton panels from Ikea and painting stripes using the wall color of the room.  A few coats later and they were complete. This high-end look for less cost about $25.

TUTORIAL >>> Add Stripes to Curtains Using Paint

DIY idea for designer-looking curtain panels

This is the result…

Living Room Revamp with many DIY projects to get the high end look for less

Another look that everyone wants in the home are built-ins, but most can’t afford the cost of thousands – myself included.


When it came time to revamp our family room, I knew built-ins were the only answer for the walls at the sides of the fireplace.  But how was I going to get the look but not spend thousands???

I chose to purchase $60 laminate bookcases and using stock base + crown moulding from Lowe’s, I was able to achieve a high-end, built-in look but at the fraction of the cost.

TUTORIAL >>> How-To Make a Laminate Bookcase Look Like a Built-in Bookshelf

Steps for DIY built-in laminate bookcases getting the high-end look for less

This is the result…

A $1000 bookshelf for $100. How-To DIY a bookcase to look built-in. Tutorial by

And here’s the overall space…

A $1000 bookshelf for $100. How-To DIY a bookcase to look built-in. Tutorial by

One more big impact way to achieve the high-end look for less is PAINT!

Whether a new splash of color on the walls or painting a piece of furniture, paint is probably the item that costs the least yet yields the biggest results.

My favorite paint project ever… The raspberry china cabinet makeover.

Remember when we snagged it off Craigslist a few years back?

Craigslist Cabinet Before


> Remove the hardware.  Clean it up.

> Sand the surfaces.

> Prime the surfaces using a stain-blocking primer.

> Paint using 3 coats  of semi-gloss latex paint.

> Finish with a clear coat of polyurethane in a semi-gloss finish.

Process transforming this Craigslist find...

The result…

TUTORIAL >>> China Cabinet Makeover

China Cabinet makeover

It’s truly amazing what paint can do.  Check out these inspirational pieces and how paint has completely transformed them giving them new life…

Paint Furniture Inspiration

And that’s a wrap!

Achieving the high-end look for less isn’t difficult, but it takes time + focus.

Find inspiration and create a plan before executing to keep you on track to make the best decisions that are right for the room. Can’t buy?  DIY!  Integrate do-it-yourself projects to keep costs down and achieve the look you’ve always wanted.

The Rolling Renovation Tour continues through June with many more stops at home shows + retailers. It was a blast to be apart of their crew and to connect with new faces.  I love inspiring + empowering others and sharing my know-how has been such a rewarding experience.  I hope to be able to do it again soon…

Rolling Renovation Tour - Home Show Presentation