Interior Design That Inspires Without Breaking the Bank
words by Jenny Morris | photos by Natalie Ranae
Many of us tolerate interior design in our spaces that doesn’t inspire us for two reasons: we don’t want to spend money on new furniture, decor or renovations (fair) and we don’t know where to start. The truth is, you don’t have to empty your wallet to create a beautiful, intentional interior that lifts you up from the inside-out.
Natalie Ranae — a macrame artist and the author of Macramé at Home, teaches us how to create stunning designer macrame art pieces — step-by-step. She also has a knack for transforming spaces on a strict budget and has painted, thrifted, sanded, stained and crafted her way to an inspiring, bohemian haven. If your space is failing to lift you up there are many budget friendly ways to get your hands dirty and transform your space without emptying your savings.
“For me, interiors are everything,” says the entrepreneur, who pours most of her funds right back into her growing business. “When I’m in my house, I feel inspired, motivated and happy and it sets me up for a better quality of life, work and relationships.”
Look for potential – don’t let perfect be the enemy of good
When Natalie and her husband, Shawn, bought their first-home five years ago — a century-old fixer-upper in Oshawa, Ontario — it was in rough shape. But behind the beige-yellow walls, teal 70s carpet, funky odors, filth, clutter and dated decor, Ranae saw original baseboards, stunning hardwood floors, a clawfoot tub, and tons of potential. Even if you don’t have the most enviable interior right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t work with what you’ve got to make positive changes. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your gorgeous, budget-friendly home won’t be, either. “We fix things up as we go,” says Renae. “That’s my overall approach to improving things on a budget. I ask myself, what’s something I can do today that will make this look better without spending a lot of money. It comes with making compromises.”
When the couple saw their kitchen for the first time, it had a pink backsplash with bright yellow walls and beige cabinets. Instead of demolishing the kitchen, Ranae painted the cabinets and walls white and purchased faux brick from Home Depot to adhere to the pink backsplash (which she also painted white). “I’m not going to get exactly what I want, but it’s about finding alternatives that work and evoke a similar look and style,” she says.
Interior Design Hack: Lighten and brighten things up
What change had the biggest impact in Ranae’s home? White paint.
If your paint colour is drab, sucking all the natural light out of the room, stained, too much, too little or all of the above — put an afternoon aside and paint the walls! “Our house needed some serious TLC. We knew the first thing we would do is coat the place in white to give it a fresh start and a calm, blank slate to start playing around with furniture and other design elements,” says Ranae.
Your new best friends: DIY and thrifting
“I don’t think you have to spend a fortune to create a space that inspires you. As long as you’re willing to spend time — whether that’s time thrifting, looking on Kijiji, making things or DIY’ing to get a certain look for less.” In her living room, almost everything is from Kijiji — the couch, the chairs, the rugs, even the IKEA furniture. “It’s so much better for the environment to not buy new, new, new all the time. If you find something second-hand and paint, sand or stain it — you can breathe new life into it,” she says.
Not sure what to look for online or in a second-hand store? “I spent a long time on Pinterest finding interior design inspiration, analyzing the things I really liked and figuring out what I was drawn to. You can pick and choose the parts of it that you like and recreate that throughout your home,” says Ranae.
Overwhelmed? Stick to interior design basics
Instead of copying a style, keep it simple. “You can’t go wrong with white walls, plants, natural elements like wood furniture and adding texture with natural fibers. If you combine all these elements together, it will make a space look nice,” says Ranae.
You can introduce natural fibres with linen pillows, jute rugs, weaved baskets, macrame wall hangings and so much more. “If your space feels cold, ask yourself — do you have rugs, do you have pillows, do you have blankets or weaved baskets? Look for natural elements that can add some warmth,” she says.
Ranae works with bright, natural cotton rope: “Adding a piece of macrame really adds some warmth and texture, without it feeling visually heavy. We have a small place, so I’m always mindful of making sure what I bring in doesn’t make the room feel smaller.”
Plants are another staple in Ranae’s interior design aesthetic. “I definitely recommend bringing in some green elements — whether it’s hanging from the ceiling in a plant hanger or on a cute wood stand. Plants are great decor and design elements, but for me, it’s also a hobby — taking care of plants, the joy you feel when they’re growing and thriving. There’s an inexplicable draw to nature. It inspires, it uplifts and it brings life to our interiors,” she says.
If you’re on a budget (or would rather put your funds towards, say — a downpayment or trip to Copenhagen) — forget the custom furniture, exorbitantly expensive accessories and interior designer. Visit a plant nursery, paint your walls, and check out a thrift store (with a big donation bag in hand) and you’ll see your mood — and bank account — rise.