Interior design tips on a Small Budget by Catriona Archer

How to get big style on a small budget

Wouldn’t it be lovely if our homes functioned in a way that made our everyday life feel easier, with effective layout and storage that created a more relaxing and enjoyable space for everyone in it? Getting big style on a small budget is an important part of what I offer as an interior designer and stylist. So first, lets look at the practical side: What do you enjoy within the space and what doesn’t work so well any more? What are your favourite features and aspects of each room?

Rooms these days have become such multi-functioning spaces, so its worth re-assessing every so often as to which areas (and why) certain people in the home gravitate to for particular tasks. This can change as time goes by. Are there certain pieces of furniture or accessories that no longer serve a purpose in one room that could be used more effectively elsewhere? Could they work harder for you?

Tell A Different Story

Finding new ways to display your possessions in a way that is both practical and unexpected gives them a new lease of life. Large grouping of similar items can really make a statement. To get the balance right in creating something that looks considered and not just a cluttered jumble, keep an underlying theme: Be this with colours, texture, mood, style or discipline. Grouping items in 3’s or 5’s is usually a foolproof styling trick.

Interior design and styling by Catriona Archer

Re-locating accessories such as mirrors, lamps, rugs and cushions around the home gives a fresh new look without spending a penny! I have first-hand experience on how different a home can feel by updating and refreshing a space this way.

Who says pictures and decorative objects need to stay up all year round?! Swap-out images in your existing frames and change the knickknacks you have on display at different times of the year for bigger impact and a more curated look.

Image courtesy of Pinterest / White porcelain sculpture by jotaylorceramics 

When creating a certain style for a room, remember to add different layers of texture, tones and shapes for interest. Spaces that creates something personal and unique are often an eclectic mix of finds – Too much matching wood in a room, for example, can feel rather flat.

The key to any well designed interior is to be clever with layout and what you decide to have on show. Having a healthy mix of open storage for items that you enjoy looking at daily, while benefiting from plenty of hidden storage will create a welcoming and convivial space.

Interior design and styling by Catriona Archer / Photography by Jeni Meade

Up-cycle and Re-purpose your Furniture

I’m a great believer in re-styling, re-vamping and re-purposing existing items within the home before shopping for additional pieces that may be required. It’s a great way to bring new energy into your space without unnecessary spending and landfill: A win-win all round.

A client of mine loved working in her bedroom as it was the best view in the house. We were however concerned not to let her work effect her sleep: something that can often happen when an office and electrical gadgets are stored in the bedroom. With plenty of fitted wardrobes already available within the room, we decided to make a feature of a pretty armoire she had, by adapting it into a pull-out work space. A joyful wallpaper and paint was chosen for the interior and a carpenter made shelves and a sliding shelf for the keyboard. This encompassed her printer and all paperwork required to work and could easily be closed when not in use.

Interior design and styling by Catriona Archer

The Power of Paint

Paint is a wonderfully easy and affordable way of transforming a space or piece of furniture. A project I recently worked on had a very small and narrow box bedroom. Instead of putting a small single bed with a narrow walkway by the side of it, we installed a double bed that embraced the full width of the room. Storage under the bed was accessed at the foot. Wall-mounted furniture allowed for floor space not to be compromised: A vintage wooden crate fixed to the wall serves as a bedside table. We chose a soft grey blanket on the bed, The grey stripe it created on the bed was extended up the walls and across the ceiling to form a full circle. This added a little drama to the space and gave a cosy focal point.

Interior design and styling by Catriona Archer


There’s a great saying: “Things feel uncluttered when everything has its place, but things feel cluttered when every place has a thing!”

It’s funny, but most of us have drawers full of items that we no longer look at. But what’s the point of having them if we can’t enjoy them? Those Black Holes – under the stairs, above the wardrobe, at the back of drawers. Sifting through these areas allows us to de-clutter, re-gain space and re-connect with the things we’ve forgotten, thereby giving them a new lease of life.

Interior design and styling by Catriona for HiggiHaus

Let There Be Light

Carefully considered bulbs and lighting are key to a well designed room that feels welcoming. and encourages people to linger. One of the biggest faux-pas  is relying on a bright central ceiling light as your main lighting source. By incorporating multiple points of light, a room gains layers of interest and makes for a calming space. Using a combination of floor lamps, table lamps, wall lights and down-lights.

Lighting can accentuate drama and visual interest to a room and is an integral part of creating a considered design. The choice of lighting, both in its type and style, is made easier when we take the time to consider how the room is actually used and where you wish the eye to linger: Using lighting that has a sculptural feel in its own right can also often work very effectively. Do you need a task light for reading? Is there certain artwork or piece of furniture that could be highlighted? Size matters: I tend to veer towards larger sized table lamps as they give an extra point of interest.

Interior design and photography styling by Catriona Archer for HiggiHaus

Above all, the secret to big style on a small budget is to choose your items carefully, only buying things that bring you joy. Often, ‘less is more’… Consider one or two statement items in the room, and allow space for these to take centre stage. Above all, be confident with our own style and have fun!

For big interior style on a small budget, browse the full range of services I offer or contact me for more information.

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