Home & Garden

Jillian Harris helps you refresh your home decor on a budget

By: Natalie Bahadur

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

Jillian Harris helps you refresh your home decor on a budget

By: Natalie Bahadur
"A space should always reflect you," says Jillian Harris, former star of The Bachelorette and currently a designer on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The Alberta-bred designer embraces a "design by personality" approach to home decor that means creating a style that's not necessarily based on trends, but rather on all the things that you love. Design isn't about what's cool at the moment or what's new in the stores, says Harris. It's about what speaks to you.

Keeping this approach in mind, Harris shares her best tips for refreshing your home decor on a budget!

Breathing new life into your decor doesn't have to break the bank. Here's how:

Canadianliving.com: Can you provide a bit of insight into your approach to home decor?
Jillian Harris:
It's about finding ways to tell the story of your life in your space without being too literal and by staying current. It's not so much about the Cabo picture frame that you bought on your fifth anniversary in Mexico. Instead, try framing your outdated passports in an oversize matted frame. Let go of items you don't love and find a way to make the pieces you can't live without shine and tell a story.

Move things around the house and repurpose a piece, even if it's just moving it from one room to another. Recently, I found a stunning antique chest of drawers in my parents' garage. My mom has had it for years and was over it. I couldn't stand to see it go. I'ts now my entertainment unit. We modified the drawers to flip open and they house all my audio-video equipment, DVDs and electronics. The piece was free, one of a kind and it tells a story. Be inventive.

CL.com: How can you refresh and renew your decor on a budget?
Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Start with a big clean and try moving furniture around the house. Ask yourself what you really need and why. Can any of your pieces be refinished or repurposed? Oftentimes, upholstery and soft goods are what need a lift. New throw cushions, rugs and curtains can change the feel of the entire room. And my favourite cheap room makeover tip? Light bulbs. Light bulbs that imitate outdoor light make a room feel a little more crisp and clean.

CL.com: As a designer, where do you like to shop? Where do you recommend shopping for budget items that don't look budget? Or for great finds at great prices?
I love HomeSense. I swear I could furnish an entire home from HomeSense. Aside from an actual sofa or bed, you can get everything there and most of their pieces have character and are good quality at such a great price. Crate and Barrel now ships to Canada, so for sofas, beds and other case goods (which I do recommend spending money on), Crate and Barrel is a great source. And of course, your local antique or thrift shops will have great finds that have good bones, and are inexpensive and one of a kind.

CL.com: What mistakes do people often make when it comes to their decor? What fix do you recommend?
Purchasing an entire set from a department or furniture store. It's an absolute no-no. Mix it up. I would rarely recommend purchasing an entire matching set. Also: Declutter! It's hard to get rid of things, especially when I'm here preaching about making your home personal. The reality is, the more you layer in, the harder it is to connect to those things. Declutter and let a few items shine rather than get lost in the mess.

CL.com: What are the easiest ways to refresh and renew your space without spending any money?
A good spring cleaning, moving items around, opening (and cleaning!) the blinds, some fresh flowers from the garden. It sounds cliché and obvious, but they can make a huge difference.

CL.com: You're a proponent of finding new uses for old things. What are examples of things people may have lying around the house that can be reinvented?
I love repainting side tables, coffee tables and even headboards. As I mentioned earlier, I turned an old chest of drawers into an entertainment unit. Mason jars can be turned into island pendants – love them! Old frames can be painted and the glass replaced with MDF and painted with chalkboard…or add a mirror. Old vases, jars and knick-knacks that are outdated and have lost their lustre can be painted all white or all yellow (whatever pop of colour you like!) or a series of monochromatic hues to create a modern set of collectables.

Jillian's 7 dos and don'ts of budget decorating
know that you can do it.
Do take your time.
Don't be afraid of colour.
Do measure twice, cut once.
Do have fun!
Do try something totally new – like painting an old piece of furtniture chartreuse or lemon yellow!
Don't be intimidated.

Check out StyleAtHome.com's 20 questions with Jillian Harris. And don't forget to read about her decor inspiration, too.

Natalie Bahadur is the senior editor of styleathome.com and is a regular contributor to canadianliving.com.

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Home & Garden

Jillian Harris helps you refresh your home decor on a budget