Blogger Q&A: Sherry from This Young House

If you haven’t checked out This Young House, [UPDATE: This Young House has since been re-launched as Young House Love] do yourself a favor and read Sherry and John’s insanely cute blog about the adventures of renovating a little house in Richmond, Virginia. The couple, who are in their 20s, completely redid their entire home on a budget and have become DIY masters!

Sherry was kind enough to take part in my little “blogger Q&A” session on how to achieve a stylish look with little cash. Enjoy!

1. Which decorative accessory or element is OK to cheap out on?
Hmm, we're pretty cheap about almost everything, but some particularly great items to snag on a dime are little decorative accessories (we've found white ceramic pears for $1 at HomeGoods), pillows (they can dress up a room for under $20) and art (we're huge fans of DIYing it, and everything from house keys or corks to sea fans or black & white vacation photos can look amazingly "legit" once they're put behind glass).

2. What décor element is worth the splurge?
A good sofa and a good mattress are definitely worth a bit more dough (although gorgeous versions of both can be had for around $1,200 each, so we're not talking about 10K when we say splurge). They'll both be things that you'll have for the long haul, and when it comes to your sofa, you'll want to pick a classic shape and a neutral color, which will keep things looking crisp and current for at least a decade or two. We're huge fans of Rowe sofas (we got one for $400 less than our Pottery Barn Basic, which we're already completely over) and Room & Board sofas (they're such great pieces for the price). And as for our mattress preference, we're saving our pennies for an organic wool one and we can't wait to make the big switch.

3. When you first moved in to your house, what was the first thing you did to make your space feel like home?
The very first thing we did was rip up the gross thin carpets in the bathroom and the sunroom (ick!) to reveal amazing vintage basketweave tiles in our loo and some lovely concrete flooring in the sunroom (pictured below, which we painted a rich chocolate brown). Of course getting some soothing blues, tans, and creams on the walls along with painting all the natural wood trim a crisp white tone also helped the house feel clean, current and oh-so-ours.

4. What’s your top low-budget decorating tip?
Work with whatcha got. This is what we commonly refer to as our Tim Gunn philosophy (his "make it work" mantra really rings true). Keeping an open mind and trying to repurpose, repaint, and reinvent the things that you already have can really add style without putting you in the red. For example, we had an old CD storage box that we mounted on the wall in the bathroom. Voila! A mirrored wall shelf to hold pretty glass cups (stolen from the kitchen cabinet) full of cotton balls and q-tips. We also used inexpensive bamboo blinds to create concealed storage (pictured below) above our washer and dryer instead of buying budget-breaking custom cabinets. It's all about looking at things in a different way... and desperation paired with an empty wallet is a great motivator!

5. What are your favorite sources for low-cost decorative accessories and furniture?
Everyone who reads our blog knows that we're big Ikea, Target, JC Penney and Overstock fans. We also love virtually dropping in on CB2, West Elm, World Market, ZGallerie, and even Urban Outfitters for pieces that can be combined to create a look that appears to be a lot more expensive than the sum of its parts. And don't forget thrift stores, Craigslist and even garage sales! We have found some pretty amazing pieces by looking beyond an old peeling paint job or some terrible upholstery to see a diamond in the rough that we can transform for under $15 in an afternoon.

Thanks Sherry! If you’re looking for some design inspiration or want to learn your way around a hammer, check out her blog here.

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