For as long as she can remember Kate Dawson had a flair for transforming ho-hum spaces into something spectacular. In college, when Dawson moved into an apartment during junior year, she dazzled her friends decorating her little apartment on the cheap from antiquing and flea market finds. Suddenly the place contained splashes of color with stylish artwork and beautiful fabric.
“Most college apartments are just a hodgepodge of inexpensive stuff thrown together with no style or design,” recalls Dawson whose design savvy goes back to when she was a child and she was given permission to her decorate her own bedroom. “Whenever I played with Barbies I was really only focused on creating an amazing home for her and Ken,” she shares.
At 44, with no formal training, Dawson, a successful actress, left show business to follow her lifelong passion. She created a thriving interior design business, Decor Whore. She discovered that she could reinvent a space inexpensively using items from HomeGoods, estate sales and Craig’s List.
Since starting Decor Whore in 2019, Dawson has transformed more than 50 spaces in the New York City area. Her mantra is that any designer can bring you to a pricey store and show you a $12,000 couch. (Which she can also do.) “But where is the fun in that? Where is the individuality? Where is the creativity? Where is the thrill of the deal and the quest?” She asks. “Well that’s where I come in.”
Jodi Lobis of Lobis Luxury Estates also has a talent for transforming spaces. Her company’s portfolio includes high end luxury vacation rentals in Florida, Colorado and California. When Lobis buys a property that needs to be redecorated without spending a lot of money she turns to HomeGoods. “We make homes look good without breaking the bank,” she says.
Both Dawson and Lobis have some key tips on how to style a room like the pros, especially when you are on a budget and cannot do an entire home overhaul: Add pillows, like colorful throw pillows. Accent with an assortment of pictures, like framed pictures or artwork. And bring in plants, even fantastic faux plants.
With that in mind, Lobis offered her expertise as we spruced up some spaces in my apartment with HomeGoods items. “Decorating is similar to making clothing choices,” says Lobis. “If you have an outfit that is all white, you might accessorize it with a really pretty colorful necklace or a belt that has color in it. You can do the same thing with your home.”
Here is what Lobis selected.
The couch was transformed with decorative Marlo Lorenz throw pillows that each cost under $20. Lobis combined the look with larger pink Magaschhoni and Ralph Lauren pillows that are each under $25. “The idea was to make the space more warm and cozy,” says Lobis. “Since the couch is a neutral shade, I added some colorful pillows to accent it.”
In front of the couch Lobis added a $16 faux plant and candles. As Lobis explains, these items really add to the look of a room. Plus, the candles not only smell good, they are soothing. “I also choose candles that blended well with the throw pillows,” she adds.
The wooden table was completely transformed with this gold and glass centerpiece that was under $30. The $15.00 tablecloth with gold highlights and Marlo Lorenz pillows completed the look. Lobis selected these items because of the color of the chairs. “The chairs are outdated, but by adding pillows to the backs of them, we were able to make the chairs feel more comfortable and cozy,” explains Lobis.
Also, Lobis believed that the gold in the centerpiece and gold pillows would nicely pick up the brown color of the chairs.“The idea was to blend in with the colors that were already there,” says Lobis. Also, the white flowers really softened up the table and chairs.
“The original look was very brown, especially with a dark brown table,” says Lobis. “White is such a great color. It really brightens a room and makes it feel more alive and cheerful and less drab.” Lobis advises that when add candles, plants and flowers, it makes a house feel like a home. Says Lobis, “It helps your home become more of a sanctuary.”