Budget-Friendly Beauty

budget friendly living room
Looking to stretch your design dollars? Designer Marin Deen Wilson demonstrates how to create a beautiful home without breaking the bank. Photo by Nicole Dianne.

Interior designer Marin Deen Wilson of Marin Design Co. proves that a few carefully considered changes can breathe new life into a space without busting the budget. For a Land Park bungalow that she revamped for a mother and her young daughter, Wilson retained existing furnishings when feasible, accessorized with off-the-shelf decor and painted where necessary to freshen up rooms—all to beautiful effect.

budget friendly kitchen
Designer Marin Deen Wilson kept the homeowner’s existing kitchen cabinetry, freshening it up with a new paint color, Creamy White by Benjamin Moore. “It almost has a blush hue to it, which really warms up the space.” She adds that it’s best to leave cabinet painting to the pros. “They can prime and paint faster and better than you can.”
The tile backsplash is from the Cloe collection by Bedrosians. “It mimics really expensive handmade Moroccan tiles, so it’s a great alternative for clients who want that look but don’t have it in their budget.” Photo by Nicole Dianne.

“Being a designer is all about budgeting,” explains Wilson. “We may have a vision for a $10,000 couch, but in order to make that work, we are always trying to be crafty with the other pieces.”

budget friendly living room
Wilson used texture to create interest. There’s an upholstered sofa, leather chairs and a wood coffee table, as well as a rattan sideboard. “It all comes together in a cohesive way,” she says.
Wilson also included lots of seating options, including low-profile poufs, which don’t block views or disrupt the flow of the floor plan. “What we like to do in these living spaces is round out the room as best we can so that if you have a lot of guests over, you can face each other.” Photo by Nicole Dianne.

Wilson stretches design dollars by sourcing trendier pieces from big-box retailers and scouring antiques fairs for unique accessories that have an enduring style. “I love having a vintage piece next to, say, a lamp from Target. We are all about styling with a mixture of high and low.”

Wilson offers these tips for filling a home with style without draining the bank account:

  • Consider keeping, not replacing, kitchen cabinets if they are in decent condition. “Using what you do have will bring the budget down significantly. You also have the option of replacing just the upper cabinets and keeping the lower ones.”
  • Add plants or simple greenery to soften the space. “Even if it’s just stopping at Trader Joe’s and getting some fresh stems, or plants from local nursery, it makes a world of difference to bring a green element into your home.”
  • Coffee-table books add easy style to a room. “We get a ton of these on Amazon. They look great layered with other items.” Used bookstores are another great resource.
  • Retailers like Target and HomeGoods are great for picking up accessories, but consider looking elsewhere for hardworking pieces like sofas in order to get better quality. “I don’t like to buy furniture for high-traffic areas [from big-box stores]. I want heavy-duty pieces in that instance.”
  • budget friendly entry room
    Wilson chose character-filled secondhand items to decorate the entryway. “The bench is from a salvage shop in Oakland and the umbrella holder is vintage.” Photo by Nicole Dianne.