Interior Design Shopping on a Shoestring

Did you ever wonder where people find the things they bring to Antiques Road Show?

A good friend of mine is a prominent Interior Designer in California and he just loves to shop for deals, often buying things on a whim and keeping them in his own home until he finds just the right place for specific items in a client’s home.

When I asked him why he doesn’t just go shopping when he needs something for a client, he got pretty indignant with me. “We can’t just go find something with character at the drop of a dime, you know”, he said. “And besides; you never get the best deal on something when you really need it!”

Buying Gifts for Your Home?

His point is very well taken; he considers buying collectibles, faux collectibles, vases, mirrors, artwork and other odds and ends to be like buying gifts for your home. And any good gift takes forethought and some diligent shopping; especially when it can’t be too expensive but you still want it to make an impression.

That’s why when he brings something into a client’s home and they like it, the object usually ends up being among the person’s favorites since he bestowed it to them almost like a gift … well, they do pay him handsomely for his creativity, attention to detail and appreciation for what fits into their unique interior.

Your Home Interior Should Tell a Story

I remember once he found a clock from Bavaria. The clock depicted a mountain cabin with a young man who climbed a ladder, a young lady looking out from the second story window and a father with pitchfork in hand, chasing the young man up the ladder. The whole story was choreographed on the hour.

My friend had the clock for a couple of years until one night he was at a client’s house late in the evening having coffee and discussing the project. The client explained that his wife’s father had not wanted them to marry and thought he was absolutely the wrong boy for his daughter. They eloped and had been happily married for 27 years! My friend just know that clock would work in the client’s home and, after bringing it over and leaving it for a few days, got a call from the client saying “We love the clock, its perfect in our home!”

And while that was a $2,000 German Cuckoo clock, the moral is he found something and had to have it because of the great story the clock tells and that the homeowner fell in love with the story and how the artwork and mechanized characters felt familiar.

But How Do I Know Its Right For My Home?

Another thing my friend knows is what furniture, window coverings, flooring, accessories and other accoutrement is right for what type of interior design. In this he has a seemingly innate ability.

But even if you’re not an extremely creative person, you can shop around and find the right furnishings and décor to fit both your personality and how you want to express your interior design sensibilities.

This is what separates the expensive designer home with all the right elements but lacking a sense of “home” that comes only when the homeowner has taken the time and trouble to make it an expression of their own, unique peculiarities and humanness.

As with any gift, it can take time and patience to stumble across just the right thing for the right spot in a home.

Why Would I Want Someone’s Old Junk?

When I have asked my friend where he finds such great items, he again scoffs at me as though I must be an imbecile. “Well, the only way to find stuff is to really look,” he says, as though that is the only answer deserved. “I go to junk yards, antique shops, people I call off Craig’s List; the best stuff is something somebody either is or has basically thrown out at some point.”

“Why would I want someone’s old junk?” I ask.

“Because then there’s a story behind it. Don’t you just love to watch Antiques Road Show and see somebody find out that they have a valuable item they thought was worth little or nothing?”

“I suppose it is somehow fascinating,” I return.

“Well, if they don’t want it anymore, it may be just because they don’t care for that style or have grown tired of it. It could have been a gift they never liked or something that belonged to a deceased family member and they just don’t care for it. Or, they just don’t know what it is and sell it in a yard sale to get rid of old stuff.”

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

The point here is that styles come and go and people’s tastes vary widely. So just because something is cast aside doesn’t mean it has no worth. If you really, really look around you might be surprised how little you can pay and get some unique stuff that doesn’t cost a lot.

If you get the bug to go shopping at consignment stores and looking on eBay for things then soon you’ll find the right things to fit in with your home décor.

Interior Design Shopping Tips

For the best deals, try these simple tips:

  • Pick the Right Season – One of the keys to buying a good number of quality items with little money is to make sure that you shop at the right seasons. If you found items that you think might go well with your home look and feel you should check with those stores to find out when they do inventory counts. Often times, the stores will liquidate how a good number of items just prior to having to do an inventory count – to save them time and money.
  • Be On the Lookout to Do More than Just Save Money – Don’t be afraid to over buy at times as well. I once was able to purchase an entire showcase of decorative handles and knobs for cabinets. I even this purchased the display case. And then redid a couple of rooms with wonderful decorative knobs and then resold all the other hardware and actually made money on the deal. These types of deals are available a couple of times per year all because they did not want to have to count that entire selection of inventory.
  • Look For Overstock Items – Another great way to save a tremendous amount of money on your home décor budget is to check around for overstock items. Many smaller stores may buy larger quantities in order to save money, but then have several items left over that they are willing to sell off at a reduced rate.
  • Shop Around for Deals – The most expensive part of re-decorating is buying the furniture. Flea markets, e-bay, yard sales and second hand stores are all great places to find bargains and the best thing is no one will know where you got it from and because it was cheap you can afford to paint it or stencil it or re-design it by taking out draws and things to make it look unique and specific to the theme of the room and the purpose it holds.
  • Work With What You Already Have – Usually the problem many people have when decorating is that the furniture doesn’t match the theme they want. So rather than buying furniture to fit a theme, choose a theme to fit the furniture that is already there. This is a cheaper alternative that still leaves you with a lovely looking home.

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