Miss A Columnist

Eugenia Orr has been expressing thoughts, ideas, and notions in the form of the written word for over five years. A local and nationally published freelance writer, Eugenia loves to convey messages about community, empowerment, beauty, and tranquility. Featured on the cover of N’Digo Magazine in 2008 as one of Chicago’s Top Interior Designers, Eugenia loves to help people live less stressful, more productive lives with beautiful, clutter-free surroundings. Her first book, Clutter Free Home Living (available on Amazon.com and iTunes) is a down and dirty guide to help people suffering from what she calls “clutteritis”. Eugenia firmly believes that everyone should live in a guest ready home and is on a personal mission to help rid the world of unorganized chaos.
Eugenia's writing abilities have been honed not only through published media, but through educational materials as well. A Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Design solidified her passion of home and beauty. Having earned a Master's Degree in Urban Planning and Policy by completing a thesis on Faith Based Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Eugenia is currently a Doctoral Candidate at Olivet Nazarene University. In 2012, she will earn a Doctorate of Education in Ethical Leadership after completing her dissertation research on Gentrification and Condominium Ownership in Bronzeville, Chicago, Illinois.
A south-side Chicago girl, Eugenia loves to spend time at home, reading, writing and taking in the occasional movie, when, that is, she’s not attending an open house, trade show or visiting clients.

Design on a Budget

Are you an HGTV junkie?  Do you watch show after show, listening for tips, idea and suggestions to make your home a showplace?  Or do you pick up every magazine on home decorating and absorb every article and picture?  The ideas are there and in color! Are you stuck though?  Unsure of how to incorporate those ideas into your home, and not go into foreclosure?  Often times, budget is not the driving force in design magazines.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a money tree in my backyard.  “So how, G, how do I get that designer look without going into foreclosure?”, you ask.  Well, the key is patience and shopping around.

While you are voraciously pouring over the latest Better Homes & Garden or Elle Décor, cut out the pictures that you like the most – those looks that will make you smile when you come through the door.  Include rooms, but also include pictures of accessories and colors that make you feel something.  Create an design wishbook.  Take it with you when you go shopping.  Yes, you will have to shop, and window shop too.  Inexpensive look-a-likes are not going to jump out and say ‘Here I am, buy me!’  They will have to be searched out and dug up.

While shopping, look for pieces that are similar to those in your design album.  You may not find something exact, so look for similar size and shape or pattern. Maybe the sofa doesn’t have a scalloped back, as intricate design pattern will lend more toward the expensive, so look for a style that is not straight, to mimic the flow of the original.  Curved or rounded will be a better match.  When is come to fabric in soft seating, ultra suede is the budget alternative to genuine suede and velvet, vinyl, the leather alternative.  The vinyl being produced today is not the ‘pleather’ of the past.  Many vinyls have the hand (design talk for how something feels to the touch) of genuine leather with texture and grain, or a smooth hand,  similar to lamb’s leather.  If you have to have leather, don’t worry.  Leather is more and more affordable, just check for sales, closeouts and lately, furniture stores that are going out of business.

Remember, paint can transform anything!  If you find a dresser that looks like the dream one, but is black and not white, negotiate the price and repaint it!  Get books and magazines on painting, staining and faux techniques that show, step by step, how to do-it-yourself.  Preparation is key when refinishing furniture, so follow all the steps to ensure that the new piece will last.

One thing is key in professional designed spaces, accessories make the room.  Trinkets, pillows, rugs, window coverings, lighting and artwork bring everything together.  As with big pieces, look for items with similar size, shape, colors and theme.  Rugs bring furniture together by anchoring them and creating conversation areas.  Artwork is great focal pieces that draw the eye up and around.  Lighting sets the mood so don’t forget lamps, wall lighting and accent lamps to show off the artwork.  Don’t leave the window treatments out, they are dressing.

You can have a show place home, without going into hock.  The key is to look around and shop.  My favorite places?  Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, JC Penney, Carson’s, The Container Store for accessories, for something is always on sale. Get the Sunday paper and check for sales and closeouts.  The flea market is another place that has a lot of artwork, rugs and furniture and everything else in between.  Just remember your design book and soon your home will be the one everyone wants to visit!



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