I'm tired of my décor but restricted to a tiny budget. Can I bring new life to my apartment without needing to shop like crazy - and without just going to the usual chain stores?
I discovered while on a teeny budget myself that not only is it not necessary to spend a fortune to have a stylish home, but also having to use your imagination can lead to much more interesting things. Thrifty chic definitely need not be worthy, makeshift or dull; it has the potential to give you a more lively, interesting home, rather than something that's simply been acquired.Make the most of the fact that it's not going to be all about the shiny and new; instead, find satisfying ways to mix and match.
Imagination is so important. Small details can make rooms special - consider swapping handles on cupboards and displaying flowers individually in a collection of interestingly shaped bottles. Nature is wonderful - feathers, shells and stones from the beach can look lovely and cost nothing. Use what you have For instance, books look decorative when arranged on the shelf or floor by colour. Almost all furniture - apart from antiques - is easy to transform with a lick of paint or new handles, or to dress up (or hide) with a cushion or throw.
Don't neglect the chain stores' affordable basics. Just tailor them to your taste by mixing with your own pieces, or painting or embellishing them.
A little knowledge will go a long way. Create a statement from something you need to have. For instance, paint shelves a slightly darker shade than walls. Paint the floor: it's cheap and many clever effects can be achieved - painting lines or a geometric pattern, using masking tape to create a stencil. Paint one wall a contrasting colour.
Find cheap fabric in the souq and ask a tailor to add a wide border using a statement fabric.
If you do go for any higher-priced pieces, opt for simplicity and neutral tones - they'll be more versatile and won't date. In cheaper pieces go for bolder shades - somehow the eye gets distracted by the vivid colour.
An empty space often looks smarter than a cluttered one, so if you can't afford exactly what you want leave a space for it, for later.
Emily Davies was speaking to Alexandra Campbell, interior designer, author and stylist: Thrifty Chic: Interior Style on a Shoestring, by Liz Bauwens and Alexandra Campbell, Cico Books, www.cicobooks.com