Check out Sara's charming apartment that I produced for iVillage. She's my kinda gal. She's thrifty (loved how she created a mirror backsplash in her kitchen out of a $9 mirror from Home Depot) yet knows when to spend the bucks.
For us small spacers, here are my take-aways:
1. Her hits of color keep it interesting. Aren't those lampshades the best?!! I've been on the prowl since seeing them. Oriental Lampshade has them but they are pricey. Or try to make yourself with high gloss paint. Her mix of pillows definitely keeps the eye busy. It's in the story but Fabricadabra has the look for a lot less.
2. Utilize small, multiple use items
She has multiple garden stools around her one bedroom apartment but they blend so well into the decor you don't notice. She's a big fan saying they make the best side tables, extra seating or place for her many books. Need extra seating, it's there. Don't need? They disappear.
3. Create rooms within rooms
Her ability to create "nooks" within a room is key for limited footage. Don't let not having a room for a dining room stop you from creating one. She works from home so her living room is both office/living room and dining room. She is making every foot work for her.
4. Can't afford the art you love? Make it!
As a would be artist, I was most impressed with how she makes her own art. Kelly Wearstler does it too but it's way harder than it looks. That said, it's a nice way to use up some old house paint + canvases are cheap.
5. Crafty isn't a bad word. I sorta groan when I hear how some folks make lampshades out of toilet paper rolls or something because that isn't the sort of design or crafts that I like. That said, Sara didn't like her kitchen flooring so took a few hours on Saturday and created a nice diamond pattern. She swears it's easy to do and all you need is the guts to do it, tape + paint. It definitely made her kitchen more interesting.
Make the local thrift shop your best friend. She has a few in the DC area she pays attention to and has picked up some real steals there. Paired with a real antique or ikea (like her dining room table), it creates the high/low mix every designer goes on and on about.