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  • Writer's pictureTORI JOYNER

Client #1: Living Room Makeover, $50 Budget

"Home is where the story begins....” My very first client is a young man overwhelmed by the idea of designing and organizing his first home. The initial walk-through was very tough because of the "stuff" blocking me from see the true character of the home.The Client walked me through the space and it was clear that there was an overwhelming disconnect. The disconnect comes because of age, style, and character of the home. My job is not only to help redesign his space but to make sure he feels comfortable living in his space.

Rules- There was no painting, there was no buying new furniture. What the Hell was I suppose to do? Was this a freaking 'Clean House' episode! ..... Joking...

Shopping- With such a small budget selecting the best places to shop would be the biggest obstacle. I knew we needed a few key pieces rug, art, and a few small items to bring everything together. I think what I was able to accomplish with such a small budget and lack of full creative leverage was really impressive.

The first thing I wanted to tackle was the cleanup.

Yes, there was a random dryer sitting in the middle of the living room, but don't worry we got all that handled and squared away. After the full clean up, I noticed nothing but brown! Tip 1: Even your favorite color must be broken up with a contrasting color.

I've never seen a fireplace hidden away so well. I think it was time to bring it back to life. Also, check out the beautiful oval-shaped door. I love the character of this home, sadly it was being smothered by clutter.

Coffee and Tea Station!

I like the idea of a tea and coffee station on your way in or out the door. This is something I wanted to make sure I incorporated into the design. Tip 2: Shoes should never be a staple in the living area.

The living room has a purpose again!

So, with just $50 I was able to create a totally different feel to a once drab space.

Let's get into the Design! What can you do with $50 in your home? Let's talk about it! One issue with having all the furniture the same color is that your eye only sees the room. What does that mean? When I design, I always like to create small vignettes of space, which gives the eye smaller things to focus on in an overwhelming space. The first trick! The Rug! We didn't have a lot of cash to spend on a large extravagant rugs, so we went to one of my favorite discount stores, Gabes. I think Gabes is in most cities, please check them out. The rug was only $29. In most spaces, the rug color is key to bringing the entire space together.

The Homemade Art Piece!

The next stop everyone favorite, IKEA! I'm not the biggest fan of Ikea. I find that everything is very simple and lacks creativity. Nevertheless, we spent the remainder of the $50 hauling ass in this overcrowded IKEA on a Saturday afternoon. I was very aware of the penny-pinching mindset of my client, so I wasn't going to try anything crazy or to get him to spend more money. I wanted something over the fireplace to really bring it out. We found the mirrors walking past a crate and a large sign displaying 1.99 for each mirror. I quickly thought of this sort of abstract art piece over the fireplace. Tip 3: Mirrors in any capacity are wonderful for making spaces feel larger and creating depth.

Plants are a Must!

My client spoke very vividly about not being able to take care of plants, so we spent the last few dollars on a couple of artificial flowers to incorporate a little green. Tip 4: Pairing anything green with white or a natural wood brings a level of elegance to the room.

Coffee and Tea Station!

My client is a very big tea drinker and he wanted to be able to grab it on his way in or out of his home. This was a great way to incorporate the coffee/tea station into space.

Open Space! The room is very long but not very wide. For people who deal with this sort of space issue, there are a few ways to manage this issue. 1.Create a small little seating area. 2. Create your own little entryway with a small table. 3. Create a small office space on the side tucked in the corner. (Update) A week later my client purchased a TV and mount that swivels and faces the sofas.


I hope you guys are now motivated to make a few changes to your home. This was a very fun challenge and I think it turned out really well. Please let me know what you guys think.


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