Thursday, June 6, 2013

Design on A Student Budget

Many people who come over to our place are amazed that it doesn't have the hand-me-down look of most newly married apartments.

 Believe me, it did once. 

At one point we had that unsightly leather, overstuffed, lazy boy loveseat/sofa set; black and grey metal office desk; tv armoire in a very traditional cherry stain with gold hardware, and everything else was cheap, black, and from Ikea. Don't get me wrong, I love Ikea, but you have to make the right choices there. At the time, I didn't really have a clue what I wanted and so I took the safe road just like everyone else, and chose black and simple. We were grateful to have furniture and so I did what I could with what I had. 

Here's a glimpse back in time...

Unlike most people, I'm not willing to wait until my husband is done with school and we have a house to actually love the space I live in. After all, I did name my design business Carpe Diem Design, so that really is my design philosophy. Don't wait your whole life to have a home you love. Seize the day!

So here is how I accomplished this...

1) I kept our not so great furniture in the best condition possible, so when we were ready to upgrade we could get top dollar out of it. Then I put that money toward the new furniture. Nothing genius.

2) Decorating my home is pretty much my greatest hobby so that's what I would spend my money on when we had a extra cash that I could use on what I wanted. Create a little fund for furniture/decor otherwise you'll always find something else to spend the money on if it's not your top priority. 

3) When I did upgrade, I didn't buy furniture that was top of the line that I will have to keep for the rest of my life to justify the cost.
I like to switch things up and I knew I would want to upgrade in a few years, so I didn't worry about having thousands and thousands of dollars to spend on new furniture. The most expensive piece I bought was our sofa from Pottery Barn. It was about $1600. The rest of my furniture I bought at Homegoods/TJMaxx, Ikea,,, and other online sites. I also refinished several pieces that I found at consignment stores. 

(links below) 

4) You just have to be willing to put a little effort into finding the right pieces and do it a little bit at a time. It's really not reality to go out and buy everything new in one trip. Be patient! A great home is built over time. 

**This is my design philosophy. It may not be right for everyone, but it works for me, and it may work for you! 

Here's what our place looks like now...

(ignore the Christmas decor in this one)

Forgive the horrible quality of some of the photos.

Here's links to some of the pieces I purchase to "upgrade" our place.

Dresser (no longer available) 

Filing Cabinet (similar)

Everything else was from consignment stores, yard sales, or TJMaxx! 


  1. Oh Lexie! You cease to amaze :) If only I could tap into your sense of design...

  2. That nightstand! Where did you find it?

    1. Hi Kathy!

      I found it at a consignment store called Chic & Unique in Salt Lake City.
      778 S 300 W is the address. Right next to Ruby Snap Cookies!