Open Colleges

4 Ways To Achieve A High Quality Interior Without A High Budget

by Carlene Duffy
Posted: March 03, 2016

  Return to blog home


Are you interior decorating on a smaller budget? The Block's Carlene Duffy explains four affordable ways to create a sophisticated and functional home.

The truth of the matter is that the majority of us simply don’t have the budget to create the sort of interior spaces we lust over in Vogue Living but that shouldn’t stop us making the most of what we can afford and creating beautiful and functional interiors that make us happy.

Here are 4 do’s and don’t's to help you get there.

Avoid the generic sofa

Beautiful tan sofa - high quality interior

The sofa is very often the defining piece of furniture in your living room so it’s a purchase you need to work hard at. Avoid the generic furniture stores. You know the ones that sell the big chunky chocolate brown microfibre sort that lack style and durability.

Instead shop in stores that you know make a point of staying abreast of the trends and pride themselves on delivering stylish products. As a general rule, you can’t go too wrong with a tufted sofa, which are particularly popular right now. And a good quality tan leather will never get old.

Only cotton or linen for your bed

4 ways to achieve a high quality interior without a high budget - cotton linen bed

Polyester fabric bedspreads scream CHEAP so if replacing your bedspread is an option opt for a natural material like cotton or linen. This is not only important to the look of your bedroom but your bedding material, more than any other material in your home, should be a natural fibre.

I care more that you have a natural material on your bed than I care whether you have a bedhead. There are alternatives to a bedhead but it is difficult to rectify a cheap bedspread.

Lay a larger rug

Large fluffy rug

I’ve talked before about the importance of buying the right size rug for your space. The large majority of homes don rugs that are too small for their area, whether it be under the bed, in the living room, or under a dining table. The smaller the rug, the cheaper your space will appear.

You will know what I mean when you finally have that large, right sized rug on your floor. Go big and don’t be shy about it, I’ve never seen a rug that was too large for a space. Yes, it will cost you more but it means the work and cost in decorating the rest of your space will be halved.

Dress your walls the right way

Beautiful vintage frames

I am one of those people who doesn’t give a hoot about where art comes from. As long as it makes my heart sing and is within my budget then I’m happy. I do care about how I frame my art and where it hangs. You will have noticed that framing can be expensive but it is one of those things that can’t be avoided in order to achieve a high quality interior because on the flip side, the quickest way to cheapen your space is to hang unframed stretched canvases. If you want to bring the price down opt for a matte white or black frame rather than a timber. 

Like a rug, a piece of art that is too small for a wall will cheapen your room. It’s important to get the proportions right here. Fill out that wall whether that means increasing the size of your art with a nice wide matt or hanging multiple pieces, gallery style.

Of course, there is so much more to achieving a high quality interior but put these tips into action and you’ll be well on your way to a sophisticated and functional home.

Curious about working in interior decoration? Discover the endless career options available in the Interior Design portfolio here.


Carlene Duffy

Carlene is best known as one half of Michael and Carlene Duffy; the down to earth Gold Coast couple who shared their highs and lows with Australia on 9’s series The Block ‘Glasshouse’. The dynamic duo also featured in Renovation Rumble, and have together established their business ‘Cedar & Suede’.

Interested in online study?

See what it’s like with our 7 day free course trial.

Find out first-hand what it’s like to study with Open Colleges. Experience our world-class learning platform for yourself and discover how online learning can work for you. There are no obligations and no payment details required.

Start Today

Course areas