Decorating without breaking the bank

January 19, 2011

As an interior stylist, Lili Diallo spends her days using what homeowners already own to make their rooms shine on the pages of design magazines. She is the deputy style editor at Country Living magazine, and her work has also appeared in Domino, Real Simple and Coastal Living.

In her new book, "Details: A Stylist's Secrets to Creating Inspired Interiors" (Clarkson Potter, $40), Diallo takes readers on tours through stylish homes (hers included), sharing her tricks for transforming the bland into the beautiful along the way.

We spoke to Diallo by phone about refreshing your living space without spending a fortune; in some cases, without spending any money at all. Here are her comments and tips, edited and excerpted from the conversation.

Move one piece of furniture

People think you have to move everything in a room around, but sometimes moving just one piece can change the whole energy of a room. Like the sofa, for instance, because it's the central piece. People always put the sofa against the wall, but sometimes pulling the sofa into the room with a console behind it creates a new dynamic. If you don't have the space to push the sofa into the room, just pull it away from the wall a little and place a console with two lamps behind it.

Rethink the windows

Switching the window treatments is a very simple way to change a room. People think it's very expensive to do this, but it doesn't have to be. Just use white muslin, or loose, white sheer linen panels. West Elm sells them. The way the light comes through them is so pretty and will really change the room. It's almost better to make this change in the winter because the light is so diffused right now and the sheers will soften the room.

Add a large area rug

If you have two or three small area rugs in one room, replace them with one large rug. It unifies and pulls the room together. Oftentimes, it enlarges the room, too.

Use flowers

The organic quality of flowers uplifts and lights up a room. Sometimes, if I'm working with a weird room color, if I bring in a bunch of white flowers, like lilacs, it's just so pretty. All of a sudden people will come in that exact room and say they love the color of the walls.

Don't aim for perfection

A little bit of eccentricity sometimes gives personality to a room. It's like in fashion when you have something that's slightly overscale or slightly weird, it's like, wow! It's what gives it beauty.

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