Lately we’ve been discussing these television shows that claim to create a million dollar room
for $500 or something along those lines. These shows always make me chuckle. In many ways
that space reminds me of taking a picture with your best friend George Clooney or Brad
Pitt…except guess what, it’s just a cardboard cut out. They’re not real.
Less is often less for a reason. The “less” piece is a fiber board, plastic veneered rendition of a
beautiful hand crafted piece. In real life, one would be able to sense with touch and sight the
falsity behind the piece. But please don’t get me wrong; I understand budgets. I don’t love the
word, but it is a reality, not only in my life but in everyone’s. Even my most lucratively blessed
clients have a budget; it may have a few more zeros but we do come up against it. And,
honestly, it’s the responsible thing to do: such is life. The question then becomes not “How do
we recreate this space for next to no cost?” But instead it is “How do we create this space
The Smart LuxuryTM system that IMI has developed over the years not only prepares the
clients for what to expect in the form of processes but it maximizes the outcome within the
parameters of the project—including budget and time. The process includes prioritizing the
important pieces. Acquire a few quality pieces, as budget allows, that will carry the feel of the
space. Then, with the wonderful resources available to a designer the remaining space can be
made beautiful in that same style and feel. Working with a designer opens up wonderful new
resources that aren’t available to the general public that can help with this process. After having
been in this industry for more years than I care to admit—let’s say more than 15—I know where
to find some wonderful treasures.
An example of this: I found a rug making school in the Appalachians that hand knotted and
vegetable dyed one-of-a-kind creations fantastic for a casual rustic setting. The quality of care
and love still resonated with the piece yet the price was so affordable. Another way to work
within a budget is to use a piece the clients already have but in a fresh, new way. A current
client has a wonderful old Asian chest with lines that were simple and appropriate. The painted
panels, however, were too busy for the modern aesthetic of the space. To solve the problem,
we covered the panels in a simple removable leather. This allowed us to spend more of the
budget on an exquisite sectional needed to anchor that particular great room.
Knowing when to invest on crucial focal point pieces and where a quality, but non-branded
name can compliment is a smart strategy. I have a pair of killer YSL shoes on at the moment,
complemented by a far less-expensive Zara frock. I think it’s working quite well…
An experienced and talented designer can help think with fresh eyes while still maintaining
design integrity and overall quality within a comfortable investment. This is Optimizing Budget.