Home & Garden

Wallet-friendly shortcuts that designers use

Tulips in simple vases, placed in a series, make a simple and elegant look.
Tulips in simple vases, placed in a series, make a simple and elegant look. TNS

The season of entertaining family and friends is upon us. What better time to change or refresh your decor in an inexpensive way? What’s wonderful about design is it doesn’t always have to be expensive to look expensive. Many of the great successes in design can be achieved with a minimal amount of time and at a low cost.

Here are some of my top designer shortcuts for ways to bring quick, easy decor into your home at an affordable price.


▪ There is nothing more colorful or festive than incorporating fresh fruits or vegetables into your decor. From large green, yellow or red peppers to artichokes, lemons and limes, tall jars filled with these colorful items can make a real statement. When it comes to lemons, limes and apples, incorporate the fresh leaves of the stem, sprinkling them throughout the height of the jar.

▪ Big blooms such as hydrangeas or peonies look gorgeous when cut short and placed in a short vase, pitcher or apothecary jar. Other ideas include colored bottles, jelly or canning jars. The look is both fresh and elegant.

▪ From a single stem in a tall slim vase to a handful of fresh cut flowers, flowers instantly say welcome to your guests.

▪  A simple birch coin can add an instant organic element to your decor, and with a simple candle and glass hurricane on top, it can be an elegant centerpiece for a coffee or dining table.

▪ Whether it’s an artichoke or apple, carving out fruits and vegetables and inserting a tall taper candle can add instant appeal.

▪ Tiny succulents are hearty enough to be around for plenty of holiday parties. Pair them with sand, moss or river rocks in a glass jar or vessel and you have a beautiful accent piece.


▪ Toss pillows are relatively affordable, and the right pattern and or color can really add impact to a space. If you want a budget, craft-friendly idea, why not make toss pillows from affordable scarves?

▪ Shadow boxes are such a beautiful way to display mementos and even those items you may have thought about packing away for good. Postcards, treasured photos and holiday cards all work, especially when paired with multi-dimensional items such as buttons, coins, souvenirs and mementos.

▪ Wallpaper is making a comeback and can be framed. Prints are bold, colorful and in many cases textured. Nearly all retailers that sell wallpaper allow potential buyers to take home free samples. The sample sizes are usually always substantial in size and perfect for framing.

▪ When it comes to affordable/instant artwork, framed pieces of fabric top my list! The beauty of fabric is you can buy it by the yard. Can’t paint? Why not buy yards of printed fabric and stretch it over a frame made of plywood? The result is a colorful, unique print. You can also frame smaller pieces to hang.

Cathy Hobbs is an Emmy Award-winning television host and interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at info@cathyhobbs.com visit her website at www.cathyhobbs.com.