It can happen to the most stylish of us. One day you take an honest look at your home and realize your couch is stained, the bookshelf is leaning and your drapes have seen better days. That’s right — your formerly fabulous surroundings are less chic chateau and more dated dump.
Fortunately, fugly home syndrome isn’t anything a little creative decoration can’t solve. And despite what designer magazines would have you believe, an attractive, artistic and downright fun living space doesn’t have to cost a mint. Georgia Voice looked to Dillard Jones, who does personal shopping and more as The Concierge Guy, for help finding easy and budget-friendly ways to dress up your space.
1. Visit garage and yard sales
An afternoon spent slogging through someone else’s old junk in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough doesn’t sound appealing to most people. But Jones says technology has enabled those looking for creative and affordable secondhand items to be much more strategic. He suggested signing up for yard sale groups on Facebook — the Buckhead Atlanta Yard Sale group has 15,000 members, for instance — where you can find upcoming sales or simply browse posted items, connect with the owner and purchase all from the comfort of your couch. Jones suggests looking less for statement pieces and more for accompaniments — think night stands or simple shelving. “You could maybe paint that shelf and reinvent it again, or paint the dresser and add some extra hardware that can kind of amp it up.”
2. Put a knob on it
Or a hook. Or a little extra crown molding. In fact, Jones said adding hardware to doors and walls is one of the easiest ways to breathe new life into them. Sassy door knobs can be bought new at a place like The Home Depot, or you can even try a vintage shop to find hardware and fixtures with unique flair at surprisingly affordable prices. Add your finds to doors, kitchen cupboards, bathroom cabinets, you name it. This tip is great for apartment dwellers, who want to jazz up their space without causing permanent damage.
3. Splash on a little color
It may sound cliché, but adding just a touch of paint can make a world of difference, especially in a small space. Jones suggested painting just one accent wall can be affordable and still make an impact. A word of warning to apartment dwellers, however. Be prepared to repaint that wall, and when in doubt, consider hiring a painter or at least giving the brush to your more experienced friend.
4. Bring the outside in
From cute chaises to charming little patio sets, there are some truly awesome pieces that are made for patios. Too bad you can’t bring them inside, right? Says who, Jones argues. Outdoor pieces are often made of less luxurious — read, cheaper — materials, since they’re meant to be more durable than tactile. That means you can often get some really good finds for a lot less than its indoor-only counterpart. “Bring that garden gnome inside!” Jones said.
5. Invest in the little things
While Jones said statement pieces can and often should be a higher investment, he added there are many smaller things you can do that cost a little, but pump up your style a lot. “Curtains can be reinvented by adding fringe or a different curtain rod,” said Jones, who favors stores like West Elm and Home Goods. “New pillows can recreate your side chair or reinvent or freshen up your old couch.”
6. Clean up
One of the more interesting and truly transformative parts of Jones’ job involves so-called closet therapy. Working in four-hour chunks, Jones helps clients sort through closets and basements full of mementos, identifying what they want and editing the things they don’t, which Jones hauls away. The result is often not only a burden lifted from clients’ shoulders, but a new space that’s completely transformed. It’s not exactly decorating, but it certainly paves the way. “The next step for the client may be to reinvent that bedroom as a guest room,” he said. And it can also result in rediscovering items that could have some funky decor potential. Stacked books, for instance, can make a quick side table. Old album covers can get new life as a collage, he said.