How to Upgrade Your Interior Design Over Time

Elevating your space doesn’t have to break your budget.

Looking to upgrade the quality of the design elements within your home? It can be a lengthy process to complete, but with the right direction, it can be a fun and exciting process. ESTATENVY spoke with Julia Buckingham of Buckingham Interior Design to learn how to accomplish this feat.

Buckingham recommends beginning the process by focusing attention not on a specific room, but on a specific item. “I would actually start with a coffee table. Coffee tables are one of the most difficult things to settle in on and are often the very last piece of furniture that’s purchased. Most purchase a sofa, then a rug, maybe side tables. Then you have this space in the center of your room that you don’t have a piece for.”

She says that though this element is often left as an afterthought, it actually becomes a visual centerpiece of the room. The coffee table doubles as a display area for objects and books. On top of that, it is often critical for entertaining guests—whether that is for holding drinks during a cocktail hour or doubling as a mini dining table. For those reasons, coffee tables can make or break a living space.

In general, Buckingham recommends selecting specific pieces of furniture that you feel cannot live without. These items speak to the homeowner on more than just a visual level and can then be used to establish the entire tone and design of a room. One way to find these items is by looking outside the realm of your typical home decor sources.

“That's so much more interesting than going to Crate & Barrel, which I love, because there's no experience there,” She says. “Even if you find a blanket you love, upholster a chair with it. It creates the whole mood and feeling of having a unique home.”

Choosing items that have a story behind them can help to create a design that the homeowner is more likely to enjoy for a long period of time. Since the decor has a deeper connection with the owner that passing trends, it is more likely to hold up over time and is worth the investment.

“Millennials are more like this than any other generation-- whether you're in a partnership, marriage or you’re a single woman decorating her first apartment, go to the shops, flea markets and antique malls and find something that speaks to you. Then, build from that.”

For homeowners looking to elevate their space while staying within a budget, Buckingham recommends applying lacquer to the surface. “If you inherited a dining table, lacquer it. If you have an old ottoman, lacquer the legs. Have fun with older pieces.”

Another possibility is to paint a surface, which can give the piece new life. She says that, “Any time that you can get a colorful pop—whether it's changing upholstery, lacquering or painting a frame—you're going to change the entire appearance of your home.”