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SPECIAL ISSUE: THE AGE OF AFFORDABLE | CHEAP TIPS

Frugal and fabulous

November 10, 2005|Lisa Boone | Times Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES interior designers are accustomed to working with big budgets, but that doesn't keep them from thinking inexpensively -- for themselves or others. A few admitted to choosing inexpensive design elements for their own homes and shopping at TJ Maxx. While each designer highlights something unique, they are all based on the same ideals: making the most of what you already have and using accessories shrewdly. Here are a few of the designers' suggestions.

Accentuate

"I just changed all the knobs in my otherwise plain kitchen to red coral ones I found at Anthropologie [set of two, $12]. There is no quicker, easier update in a kitchen than changing out the knobs; why not have a 'summer' and a 'winter'?" -- Mark Cutler

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"Simply add three to five boldly patterned, bright accent pillows and a coordinating throw to any living room or bedroom, and voila -- your room will be transformed in no time and with minimal cost. Be adventurous in your pillow selections. You can always swap them out. Or invest in a recognizable design piece from a store like DWR and make it conspicuous. Then, take a trip to IKEA and pick up some design-oriented pieces at great prices. The blend will create a high-end aesthetic at a reasonable price. This mix-and-match concept is a favorite of mine as well as other famous designers such as Philippe Starck." -- Velvet Hammerschmidt

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"If you're on a budget, the best way to customize a lighting fixture is to find fabric, paper or wallpaper from a remnant store and take it to Fantasy Lighting on Melrose. For under $100, they can make a lampshade with whatever fabric or wallpaper you provide them with. Then, get one of those cord kits from IKEA and customize your own chandelier out of the lampshade. That's a really inexpensive way to change the look of your dining room for seasons or whatever event you're planning." -- Kenneth Brown

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"I'm always at Cost Plus, Ross, Rolling Greens floral supply, TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning for pillows, vases, sheets, kitchen canisters, trays for the bathroom. Take a sushi tray from Cost Plus and put three slices of soap from Lush on it for your bathroom. They always have great china and barware at TJ Maxx. The trick is to mix it in with really good antiques. I bought glass vases from TJ Maxx and made them into lamps, and they look like Murano. For bookshelves, I like to mix in ceramics and family pictures and art books. You want things to pop. You will know if it's too cheap to put in your house: too shiny, too fake, animals on it, flowers or the scale is wrong." -- Sasha Emerson

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Re-purpose

"I have a wooden frame sofa that has been through at least six changes, from black trim with black-and-white fabric, with lime green throw pillows, to yellow with a yellow print fabric to gray with silver accents, depending on the decade and the room. Each time, with new paint and fabric, the old sofa took on a fresh, new look. When the furniture has a classic frame, a new finish and a different fabric creates an entirely different look. I took an old dining room table, had it cut in two, and now use them as console tables in the living room. A chest of drawers can become a living room sofa back table. An antique bookcase can be recessed into a bedroom closet as an entertainment center." -- Lee Mink

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Smart storage

"A storage cylinder for pantry goods is efficient and inexpensive. The rotating cylinder allows your pantry items to be accessed right at your fingertips. Along with its function, the storage cylinder acts as a free-standing furniture piece, which creates visual relief from the rest of the kitchen's base and upper cabinetry." -- Troy Adams

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