Creating A Custom Look Without The High Dollar Price Tag & Guest Post

Hi everyone, I hope it has been a good week for you!

I am so excited to share my guest feature over at Savvy Southern Style-My Favorite Room. I adore Kim, she is so creative and gracious & I am honored to be a part of her incredible series!
Designing and planning a room makeover can be overwhelming, trust me, I have been there:). The time, the money, the planning, the second guessing and then bringing it all to life. 
But…… it can also be fun and very rewarding. Making a space in your home functional, pretty and a true reflection of you & your family is a beautiful thing.

Through years of decorating for myself & others I have become well versed at decorating on a dime & creating a custom look without the high dollar price tag.

Here are some tips & things I have learned along the way.

1.Take it Slow
Don’t be afraid to take your time. I think often we are easily influenced(me included) by others; we can browse the Internet & get caught up in following blogs & home design sites that we can get discouraged by our own home’s lack of presence & beauty. The homes that we see in magazines which are beautifully decorated take time & thought to get that way, I remind myself of that often
2. Establish A Budget & A Plan
I am not sure about you but we do budgets. With the economy the way it is & the fact that I am married to an accountant, influences how I decorate:). I am not ashamed to admit it (I actually enjoy it), we are like everyone else out there, trying to be careful & thoughtful about how much we spend and also save for the future at the same time. Try to be realistic & if you have only a small amount to start with, that is fine, you may be able to add to the budget at a later time.


3. Enjoy it
Sounds simple, right? Well, sometimes we can put pressure on ourselves and loose sight of the true purpose for designing a space. I usually start with my decorating magazines(CL, BHG, Cottages & Bungalows, MS Living, Romantic Country, House Beautiful, Southern Living, Elle, Traditional Home, Vintage Style, etc….); store catalogs(PB, Ballard’s,Restoration Hardware, etc…), yeah kinda sounds old fashioned, but I love this part. I sit down with my coffee and just flip through. For me, this is the dating part, no real plan and lots of ideas stirring in my noggin.This is also going to sound old fashioned, but I still rip out pages. I start a fresh binder with each room and file them away.The reason I START simple is because I can get overwhelmed if I jump right to the Internet. This way I have an idea of what I am looking for.
4. Use Internet
Once you have gotten your feet wet with your magazine ripping.
Use the Internet to help you establish a direction & style. Don’t be afraid to mix styles, as long as you are comfortable.
Start with Pintrest. Create an account & make boards that are relevant to your life & stage of decorating. I would make an overall board for that room and then break it down. Example, Dining Room, then….. Chairs, Drapes, Tables, Rugs, Fabrics, Paint etc…..
Here is the link to my boards, so you can see.
Some use mood boards, which are also a really valuable tool.
5. Decide What Is Staying
I am a big believer is using what you have, or have to:). This plays in with budget. What to keep; furniture that has good lines & scale,  upholstery with classic design, neutral furnishings, art that is meaningful, a rug you can’t afford to replace. Remember, paint & fabric can transform ANYTHING. 
6. Shopping For Fabrics
This is how I start. Some start with rugs or art, I like love fabrics.
Once you have established your style & direction, it is time to get your fabric samples. If you already have art, a rug or existing furniture, bring it with you; bring a photo, roll it up, just get it there. An amazing resource for help is your local fabric stores.
If you have a Calico Corners, go! And get lots of samples. They are so helpful and usually have years of experience. Even if you don’t have a store nearby you can order swatches online. Oh & ask about sales! I also use Ballard’s, they will ship you any quantity of samples for $5.00.


7. Trust Your Gut
Stay true to you & what you love. You will have lots of choices but if you can rely on first instincts & your gut, then you will be able to make clearer, more heartfelt choices.
8. Time to Create a Color Palette
The fun part! You can do this a few ways, you can go to your local paint stores and collect  samples, which I love to do or you can use Chip Ita tool from Sherman Williams, who my friend Jeanne shared in one of her online classes, see below. If you prefer a different paint brand, you can always have it color matched.  Depending on what your inspiration piece is, mine would be a fabric, you may have a piece of art, or an image from the Internet, you would upload an image to their site(easy I promise) and viola.
9. Stay Organized
At this point you have a clear direction, yay! You may have pictures, images that you printed, lots of fabric samples, paint swatches, sketches(even if they aren’t perfect, it is a good to have), etc….keep them organized. Like I mentioned before, for every room, I have a zip up binder, it is worth the few dollars, trust me, it will keep you from gearing off track, not that I would know anything about that:).
10. Fill In The Furniture Gaps
This sounds like a small thing, but we ALL know it is not. Having a direction from your fabrics, art, rug, paints  and pieces you already have will help you through this part. 
My advice is, stick with places you feel comfortable buying from, make sure it is comfortable & functional, don’t be afraid to look on Craigslist, shop thrift stores, tag & estate sales, outlet stores, and yes, IKEA. I have gotten some sweet deals, that saved me $$$. Last bit of advice stay neutral with larger pieces & use lots of texture!

11. Build It/ Alter It When You Can

Even if YOU aren’t handy, chances are you know someone who is, lucky them:). There are so many resources online, especially through Pintrest, you can find tutorials & plans for just about anything. This will save you tons & give you an original custom look.

 My brother-in-law was enlisted for some big time
help for this project.
 This was 10 bucks!


 12. Pick Fabrics To Go Where

There are so many ways to divide your fabric choices. Once I have picked my fabrics, which usually all work together in color & scale, I usually pick the boldest fabric(my signature fabric) to go on a few pieces, such as small chairs, ottomans, benches, pillows or cushions, then I add the other fabrics in here & there. I personally like geometrics, soft prints, stripes or textured solids for drapes or larger pieces. You don’t need to use a lot of custom fabric to give a custom look, even if you just do a few pillows & an ottoman that will do it.  Pick & choose wisely because it can get pricey. Tip, your drapery fabric can end up costing a lot because of yardage, shop around, sometimes you can find an alternative that won’t break your budget.

13. Start Sewing or Find Local Workroom
Sewing yourself will save you tons of money. If you can’t sew then find a local workroom. Ask your friends & family for references. You might surprised that you can afford it.

14. Decorate Your Walls
Give your room a custom one of a kind look is by making art yourself, yup, you don’t have to be Picasso to create something beautiful & meaningful for your walls, check HERE for some ideas. Etsy is also a great source for art, usually prints are very affordable. Don’t overlook things in your own home, such as your children & grandchildren’s artwork, old letters, vintage property surveys, maps and maybe some family sketches. These would look beautiful framed.



15. Add Accessories & Textures
Your in the home stretch, yay! This should be fun, remember layering the details and giving your room a collected look takes time, don’t rush. Buy & add things that you love, that have meaning. Last tip, shop everywhere….
Target, Home Goods, home outlet stores(love), online- Ballard’sJoss & Main, thrift stores,IKEAETSY & garage sales.

 This has been my humble experience in creating spaces that are loved and lived in, with custom touches that don’t have the high dollar expense.
You can also find & follow more of my DIY Projects HERE on my Pintrest. Also, be sure not to miss a post by following me HERE on Facebook.

 Please email me anytime with questions.
I always love hearing from you!
Enjoy your day & weekend,



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  1. All wonderful tips Jenn! Your home is so beautiful. What color did you use in your living room? I am trying to decided on new colors for our home and your caught my eye.

  2. Just came from seeing your family room at Kim’s blog, Jen. Love it and I love all the pictures you’ve shown in this post. Great tips! I follow a lot of these myself and remember years ago, with two young children and a very tight budget, I made myself sew and learn how to get the look I wanted on my budget.

  3. I headed over here from SSS and so glad I did! Hello, new follower! Great tips…love the pleated ottoman, and the IKEA hack. Can’t wait to scour your blog. It si gorgeous, and so helpful!

    Have a great weekend.


  4. Hi Jen- I just found you through Kim! You have a wonderful blog and are one talented gal! Love it. I am your newest follower and you are already on my sidebar. Looking forward to more and more and more- xoDiana

  5. Great advice! I needed to hear this today! So obsessed with reading blogs (yours!) and trying to take on too many projects at one time! Love your home!

  6. I’m jumping over from Hometalk to say that I adore your style and your home! I’m going to share this on my facebook page and pin the heck out of it! Love it all. 🙂 Have a great weekend! Beth at Unskinny Boppy

  7. Jen, I love your style and admire your rooms each and every time I see them. Great tips! I have a couple of rooms that cause me to go dizzy when I think about finishing them and this will help me get past that, I think. Pinning! Happy weekend 🙂

  8. Jen, this is a super post! I love all your tips. My favorite? #1… decorating a room takes me FOREVER. I might have an idea in my head, but it just takes me a while to pull it all together. I am finally finished with our living room, but it has taken me since August. Yikes! 🙂 I am so glad I am not the only one that still tears pages out… I too have a huge binder where I keep all my inspiration pictures. I might have to come back later and read your post again. 🙂 I hope you have a great weekend and I loved seeing your family room again at Kim’s!

  9. Found you over on hometalk. Love your style! What a treat to browse your site. I see lots of my pals commenting here, I must be late to the party 😉


  10. What a wonderful and inspiring post! So much great advice. I know I will be reading and rereading this again! Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  11. What a great post, Jen … thank you for sharing! Your home always looks amazing (your creativity behind all of it is fabulous)! (Loved your tour at Kim’s!)

  12. Jen, I found you through Pinterest. I’m OBSESSED with your house. I just creeped the crap out of your blog. Move to Texas so we can be best friends and you can help me with my new house! 🙂

  13. I love the fabric on your dining room chair. where did you get it/who makes it? Its the perfect color and looks great! You have a beautiful home!


  14. Jen, love all these great suggestions! Decorating on a tight budget is top on my list as well….I know you can have a beautiful home without spending a fortune! Thanks for sharing all the beautiful pics of yours. I’m a brand new blogger and just posted several projects this week. I used the same great fabric on a recent chair makeover that you have used for the slipcovers on your your dining chairs. It’s a great fabric, isn’t it? I’d love for you to check my project out! Here’s the link:


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