Christine Markatos Lowe knows a thing or two about beautiful homes. The Santa Monica–based interior designer has worked with some of the country's top firms—from White House decorator Michael S. Smith to fashion-forward architect Peter Marino—before establishing her namesake studio, Christine Markatos Design in 2005. With clients ranging from the posh Four Seasons Hotel to homeowners in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, Markatos is an undeniable bicoastal powerhouse of design. So it was with eager, highly tuned ears that we listened to the designer as she shared her tips and tricks for decorating on a budget. We promise it's not as daunting as you think.
"Shopping at flea markets is a great way to maximize a small budget. Look for accessories and decorative objects, including pillows, lamps, vases, and bowls. You never know what you can find at second-hand shops."
"Fabric quality is so important in appearance and durability. Always splurge on upholstered pieces or a great pair of curtains; if you go cheap, people will notice. On the other hand, you can save money on painting. Do it yourself—nobody will recognize the difference! Another great way to save money is to mix and match pieces and accessories through a catalogue and then invest in one or two luxury items that really tie it together and make the room pop."
"Invest in a good sofa, especially if you have a family. An inexpensive sofa won’t wear well and will look much older than its actual age in no time. Pick something that screams quality and one that is also comfortable so you and your family can enjoy it for years to come."
"Two easy refreshers: edit and re-paint. Go in and clear things out, and ask yourself for each item, 'Is it functional? Is it pretty?' Another easy way to refresh your house is to change out handles and knobs in your kitchen and bathrooms. You can also replace lamp shades and light fixtures."
REFRESH THE ESSENTIALS
"Get new linens. A new bedspread and sheets always makes a room feel crisp and clean. Mixing and matching is a great way to save money on this. Try to find quality sheets and a down comforter at a discount store that sells name brands and match it with a beautiful designer duvet cover."