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Budget-Friendly Interior Design Tips: An Interview with Jennifer Verruto of Blythe Interiors

By Jennifer Verruto

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

After years in the model home and high-end residential design industry, I realized that there was a niche that was missing. I discovered a passion for working with everyday homeowners or renters who wanted to spruce up their home but who couldn't necessarily afford a high-end remodel. Creating Blythe Interiors was the perfect way to blend budget-friendly design with my desire to collaborate with clients and makeover spaces.

Depending on what each unique client needs, I provide different services. I can do a 2-hour consultation, where clients pick my brain about what to do in their space. About 1/3 of my clients feel like they just need a basic direction and that they can do the rest of the work based on my suggestions. Most clients decide they want to shop with me or they want me to shop for them after the consultation. We schedule shopping dates and an installation, and keep going until the project feels finished. I've accomplished this as quickly as one shopping session for a smaller apartment, or sometimes I work with people on a monthly basis as their budget and timing allows.

Is there a common misconception about the amount of money you need to spend on decorating your home?

Yes! I run into this often. The common misconception is that design is all custom pillows and handmade custom dining tables (although those things are wonderful). Buying the right items retail can be just as cute and feel just as unique when you find the right pieces. Clients will tell me that they love the look of certain design stores but they can't afford them. The key is to use a few elements from those stores but build on the general look by using more budget-friendly retailers.

What are some inexpensive design elements that can make a room look beautiful?

Curtains, pillows and area rugs are the biggest transformative items in a room. Pillows are the least expensive and one of the most impactful ways to change a room. Get rid of the pillows that came with your sofa! For $15-$30 per pillow, you can add color, pattern and texture to your room. Treat your windows with patterned or colorful curtains to make the windows pop! Take the curtains higher than the window to add drama to the room, and stack them out onto the wall so you don't lose any light and you create a visual of having bigger windows.

Finally, one of the biggest issues I see in almost every home is that the area rug is 1) too small, 2) blends with the floor, or 3) blends with the sofa. You want to ground your space with a nice large area rug that goes underneath the sofa at least halfway and under the rest of your furniture. If it blends with your floor color, what's the point of having it? Make sure the color or pattern can be differentiated from the rest of the space to get the most out of your area rug purchase.

Also, symmetry and balance are absolutely key. If you have one nightstand instead of two, get another one and add some table lamps for balance. Make sure your art isn't too small for the location it's in - you need a big beautiful piece of artwork for a focal point like a fireplace, but I often see art above fireplaces that blends with the wall and disappears, or is teeny tiny. If you have a red pillow, maybe put a red accessory on the table. If there is green in your area rug, maybe use a green tray on your ottoman to pull it through the space.

How can people decide if a furnishing from a store is right for a particular room or space?

Before you go shopping, go onto some websites and pin conceptual ideas so you know the types of items you are looking for, and also take some measurements. Your end tables should be about as high as your sofa arm. Your coffee table should be about as long as the seating part of your sofa. It's helpful to take pictures of the items you're interested in, along with measurements, then go back home and use a measuring tape to scale out the items onto the floor. I've even suggested using blue painter's tape to create the line of the items so you can spatially see what will work.

What are are a few of the best ways to help stretch your interior design budget?

The biggest thing is to start with the basics and work in phases. Start in your main living spaces, so your living room, dining room and master bedroom would be the most important. You can always get the guest room or office done a little later. In Phase I, start with neutral furniture that will be easy to work with. In Phase II, start filling in with other main items, such as area rugs, table lamps, and artwork. Lastly, fill in with the smaller items such as decorative pillows and accessories. Work your way into the other rooms as your budget allows.

What advice would you give people who want their home to have a completely new look at the most affordable price?

First, start gathering or pinning ideas of what would be your dream room. Take all of the artwork off your walls to see the space in a different way and try scooting around the furniture to see if there is another way to layout the room using what you have. Use the conceptual images to shop, and fill in with new pillows, curtains, area rugs and table lamps. Only re-hang art that you absolutely love (not just because you still have it from college and it fills in wall space), then finish it all off with some fresh artwork and accessories. Think about adding plants that you can keep alive, like succulents or realistic fakes. Don't stress out, just have fun with it!

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

You can call (619) 665-7181 or email me at jen@blytheinteriors.com. There is also a form page on my website, to fill out. .

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