The model apartment we were in was beautifully decorated, far different than mine. When we moved in 13 years ago we were saving money for the adoption so we just bought a hodgepodge of items which still define us today. I suspect that given even our small budget years ago, Heather Zick could have done quite a bit better! Here she is describing her experience at Manhattan House, the location of our exclusive event this past week:
“Manhattan House’s model residence staging inventory consists of merchandise that has been accumulated over the years from previous designers and include a spectrum of different styles. Some of it is fairly new and some of it older – some pieces are in great shape and others, have gotten a little beaten up through the constant moves from one model to another. I believe that each piece can be worked into a space and made valid by incorporating complimentary pieces around it. I have to use my creativity and imagination to find a way to turn chaos into clarity, while making sure each model residence has a fresh, new and inviting look each time. I try to use the three R’s whenever I can – Reuse/Resize/Rework – If it’s absolutely necessary that I purchase something new, I will, but I truly enjoy the challenge and creativity it takes to find a way to make the old make sense and furthermore, find a way to make it actually feel like new. Many people have a hard time visualizing in a blank space. They are unable to connect with the space and imagine it as their home without seeing elements in it that remind them of a home, like furniture and artwork. My job is to help them get to the place of being able to imagine it as their home. Since each individuals’ idea of a home is different, I make my goal to simply come up with the optimal look for each space, using what I have available to me. I know my job is done, when I walk into a model residence that I’ve just designed and have a sense that “I’m home” — HEATHER ZICK, Interior Designer, Manhattan House
I am also posting Heather’s tips below, some of which I have tried to practice. For example, in NYC there is a gorgeous store called ABC Carpet. I cannot afford anything there at full price. Like Heather says below, buy remnants, shop wisely. We have done exactly that. We have shopped their warehouse, and we were even able to afford a gorgeous runner for our hallway in their main store during a clearance event. The below tips are flexible enough to work with many different budgets! Also, I love her space saving ideas, Mine include buying 6 hollow ottomans and hiding things in there!
HEATHER ZICK’S DESIGN IDEAS FOR OPTIMIZING SPACE AND MONEY:
Choose furniture styles and layout wisely:
- Beds without foot boards and chairs without arms are great for smaller spaces.
- Modular furniture that can easily be separated and moved around.
- Stools and ottomans that can double as tables or additional seating
- If you have limited wall space, try placing furniture at the end of your bed, behind your sofa or float it in the middle of the room.
- Turn convector covers into additional seating by adding cushions and throw pillows.
- See if you can eliminate your dresser from your bedroom by moving it into your closet or by having your closet outfitted with drawers.
- Flex-spaces that can serve more than one purpose (Media Room/Play Room or Guest Bedroom/Office).
- If you find something you like, but don’t love the color of it, buy it anyway – strip and stain it a color you do like.
- Buy commercial-grade wallpaper that looks like a grass-cloth or some other natural material but is actually vinyl, which is less expensive and more durable.
- Paint molding and trim the same color as the walls to make the room feel larger and more uniform.
- For furniture and frame touch-ups use Sharpie markers and White-out or find a paint color that matches and buy a sample pot.
Art, Accessories and Area Rugs:
- Take your own photographs and have them printed on photo paper or canvas (I have done this in a previous post from Staples!).
- If you see an expensive piece of art you like, commission a friend or local art student to create an interpretation of it.
- Shop in the flower district for candle holders, trays, vases and silk flowers – create your own floral arrangements.
- Shag and sisal rugs are generally inexpensive, versatile and durable – if you like wool and silk rugs, opt for wool and viscose instead which has a similar look and feel but is much less expensive.
- Buy plain white paper lampshades which are the least expensive kind and sponge-paint them for a cool, textural finish and better ambiance.
- Buy antique bulbs for light fixtures where the bulbs are visible for a more interesting look – purchasing them online in bulk will be less expensive.
- Shop for fabric in large fabric houses like Mood and B&J – they have some really unique materials, especially in the faux fur and men’s suiting departments.
- Buy throw pillows with removable covers so they can easily be changed – or use an old bedspread or faux fur coat to fabricate your own covers.
- Use a furniture surgeon to adjust a piece to fit in your space rather than buy a new one.
- Have area rugs made from wall-to-wall carpet remnants.
Here’s Heather (on the right) with one of my favorite local NYC news people, Tamsen Fadal:
Disclosure: I received no compensation for attending this event and sharing these tips with you. I went to support my friends and hang out with the blogging moms of NYC while my son was in play rehearsal. It’s nice to go out once a month!