High-End Style, Low-End Budget: Modern Design Without the Expensive Price Tag


Hello Fellow Modernists!  Frankly, budgets are no fun.  Furnishing and decorating a room while having to stick to a budget is not only daunting, but a bit of a bummer as well. We are constantly inundated with beautifully designed rooms in magazines, design books, television, and social media.  But if you think of your budget as a way to exercise your creativity, you will find that there are budget friendly ways to achieve a hip,modern space for a fraction of the cost of those high-end designer rooms!

Easy Budget Design Rules to Live By:

Do your Homework-Write a list of everything you are searching for in order to complete your space and keep it with you while you shop.  Then proceed to hit up the flea markets, thrift stores, estate sales, and sale events at your favorite retail establishments frequently.  Search high and low for items that can give you the look of more expensive items but for a fraction of the cost.

Patience is Definitely a Virtue-Oftentimes, I wait until I find the perfect piece for my space.  Do not settle for a piece you feel lukewarm about.  As William Morris stated, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”  Sometimes finding a particular piece can takes months, but waiting for and finding that perfect piece at the perfect price is so rewarding!

Do Not Shop Blindly-Ultimately, the costliest mistakes are buying pieces that do not fit your space or decor.  Shop with a photo of the room you would like furnished(I have photos of the rooms in my home on my phone for convenience) and bring a measuring tape with you.  Know the measurements of the scale of furniture that will fit your space.  Refer to the photo of your room as you shop, in order to help visualize where a piece will go.

Go High/Low-Invest in at least one statement piece for your space, such as a sturdy well made couch, dining table, or a stunning piece of artwork, and use inexpensive accessories to fill in the room.


Paint Can Make a Difference-Something as budget friendly and as easy as painting an accent wall can give your space a fresh, modern feel without busting your budget!  Make sure you try sample colors on your wall first, along with evaluating how the colors look in natural and artificial light before you go gung ho on buying the gallon.  It may be an extra step, but it is an important one when wanting to make sure you don’t have to purchase another color in case of a color mistake!

Wallpaper is Back in a Big Way-The Granny florals are gone and bold, modern wallpaper patterns have replaced them.  For renters or for those who can’t commit to a permanent pattern, there are modern prints in budget friendly easy peel and stick options!


Choose a Bold Area Rug For Maximum Impact-Area rugs ground a room and provide a unique design element for a space.  There are many boldly patterned or brightly colored rugs out there without making a huge dent in your budget.

Use Texture to Create Interest-Look for furniture with clean lines and recover it with a textured fabric or use textured accent pillows to up the coziness factor in a space.



Use Foliage to Bring Life to a Room-Inexpensive succulents or an indoor tree can do wonders in brightening a space.  Look for a beautifully patterned Haworthia or if room allows, an olive tree or fiddle leaf fig with a graceful, modern shape.  And for a bonus, plant pots and plant holders are a fun way to add personality and character to a room!

Function can be Beautiful-For a relatively low cost, functional items can also be a design element.  Window coverings now come in bold, bright, and modern patterns to suit any style; or swap out your dated door hardware for handles with clean lines and modern finishes.


Get Your DIY OnRefinish an old piece of furniture, build a replica of a more expensive item you are coveting, or buy a blank canvas and some art supplies and go to town creating your own Modernist Masterpiece!  There are easy DIY tutorials to be found online, from building your own headboards to bookcases and coffee tables.


Focus on Artwork-Beautiful modern and retro artwork can be found at flea markets, maker fairs, consignment shops, and thrift stores.  Use your DSLR camera that is gathering dust and take some frame worthy photographs for a new gallery wall that will feel personal to you.  Whichever artwork you do choose, large scale pieces bring a dramatic impact to a space.

Faux Sure-Are you coveting an Eames Chair or Saarinen table but your budget just won’t allow it? Well, take a peek at the high end replicas that are available and you will be pleasantly surprised at the similar look you can achieve for a fraction of the price!

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