Bliss for a Bargain

One of the requests I received in my post last Friday was for me to start doing posts of rooms I have designed, or rooms I wish I had designed, and how you can get the look for less. This is tricky for me, because while I do love a bargain, I think that a lot of what people respond to in a room are the special and usually more expensive touches. Some of those things can be replicated for less, but craftsmanship and quality costs money.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to achieve a good look for less, you just have to know what it is you are trying to replicate and pay for those details and forgo the others.

Let me demonstrate with our blue velvet sectional. I get more emails about this piece than anything else.

I drew it up and had it made when we were in Chicago. I would be happy to share the contact of the furniture maker who built it, but the number I had for him is out of service. It wasn’t as expensive as some pieces I have seen in fancy stores like DWR, but custom costs money, and so does velvet.

This one from Room Service is nearly $4000, and is linen. You can get it in custom fabrics, and I would guess this one requires about 15 yards of fabric? A high quality velvet (though again, there are deals) starts around $100 a yard retail. So you do the math.

Or I will. That’s $1500 on top of the $4000 base price. Ouch.

I should make these and sell them through Biscuit…and maybe I will one day…but for now, here is how I would get the look for less.

So. In our couch there are a few elements that might be pleasing. Namely the tufting, the blue velvet, the mod/classic style, clean lines, exposed legs, and the non-bulky sectionalness. Counter-clockwise, here is what I think each of these pieces has to offer someone who liked our sofa:

1. The best deal, and the most like our sofa in the big picture. Same color, if not material. Same clean lines and exposed legs, same shape and seating- though lacking the tufting detail. Ikea and Bemz for $1500.

2. This is the most expensive and probably the biggest departure in style, it is more similar to the green velvet sofa I drew up for our living room, but this shows the range of cost and quality. It comes in a beautiful blue velvet, and has the exposed legs and tufting detail some might be drawn to in ours. Definitely not cheap though at nearly $3,000 from Jayson.

3. Clean lines, exposed legs, tufting, available in a teal velvet. It’s wee, but for $1,200 from Ballard you get quality construction, blue velvet, tufted, and the clean lines.

4.  Probably the most similar in terms of style, details, sectional-ness. But not on the fabric. It’s $1800 from CB2, and you could always recover it later. This is probably the one I would most recommend.

So. Try to identify everything you like about a piece or a room, and rank it. Realize that each special touch costs something. Using the example of the couch, you can get something in velvet for a deal, but probably not a whole sectional. If the velvet is the most important part to you, and you are on a budget, scale back on the size. If the shape is the most important part, consider a blue linen instead. Try not to get duped by some amazing deal that promises it all. Inexpensive velvets do exist, but usually if something is cheap $ wise, something about it is cheap quality wise as well.

If you are going to spend more than 20% of your budget for a room on something, my personal belief, is that it should be real- not a cheap replica. And by that I mean (again using this example) buy a quality sofa that will last long enough to be recovered in the velvet when you can afford it. Craigslist, antique mall, ebay…Look around and find a vintage sofa with enough of the other details, and velvetize later.

In my opinion, the only way to get a true deal, is to look in the long term. If you go out and Ikea a whole room, even if it looks like a pretty good version, there aren’t any long term pieces for you to grow with. You will have to replace every piece in a few years anyway. But if you splurge on one investment piece, and Ikea the rest, you will (hopefully) have that piece forever. The next time it comes to refluff, get another forever piece and replace what needs replacing. So on and so forth until you are mostly surrounded by meaningful forever pieces. And isn’t that the point? To be surrounded by what is special to you?

And that, is my version of bliss for a bargain.

So…was this helpful at all? Trying to get back to the Peppermint Bliss that you all said you missed, and bring you what you want. I hope this was on the right track!


  1. Stephanie November 26, 2012 at 8:42 am

    ok, i like this, and I agree. I didnt marry no daddy warbucks, nor is my daddy daddy warbucks, but when we were decorating our house we agreed “spend $$$ on the couch we’ll use most and our bedroom set” and it was great, everything else is kind of filler and we took our time searching for fun and classic pieces that weren’t as much $ as I would’ve preferred to spend. while your couch is super chic and fab we went with a more neutral color and focused on the shape and comfort (even though I’d prefer a blue velvet couch) we can spruce this sucker up with some crazy pillows and throws. Thanks, I really like this post!

  2. katie November 26, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Great tips!!

  3. alison g. November 26, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Ex-ACT-ly! Brilliantly (yet simply) put.
    Just the kind of thing I was thinking in my post suggestion.

  4. Steph November 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Love these tips! We’re in the process of discussing how we want to decorate our mountain home (ugh, my husband is a crazy person) and since its not a primary residence I’ve been preaching this…spend money on the things you love and you can always reuse them! Love it!

  5. Shannon November 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Just had a question that I would love to see you answer. I’m trying to find a good looking TV stand. I’ve found some fabulous campaign style buffets that could be used to put a flat screen on and have storage below. But the problem with this is that there needs to be an open or glass panel for the TV receivers, etc. so the remote will work (without keeping cabinets open). All the made as tv stands are so ugly. Any advice? I’d love to see what solution you have done for your TV.

  6. rita November 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

    ok i need that sofa. and a house to put it in, but that’s just details.

    i totally agree with your philosophy. we’re in an apartment right now and have been itching to redecorate but it just doesn’t make sense since we plan to buy in a year or two. instead, we are focusing on beautiful, last forever decor items (gorgous magazine rack, art, vases) that we know we will be able to use in our future home but that make our place feel different now.

  7. stephanie November 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I always loved that sofa – you should totally make some custom lovelies for your shop one day! Who in Austin did you use for wallpapering – do you mind sharing? :) I loved all of the papering you did to Mr. Banks – I’m a paperhound myself… Thanks!

  8. jackie jade November 26, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Great post with helpful tips! I’m trying to do the same – get a few quality pieces and fill in with less expensive items. Having a frugal boyfriend makes it a little tough sometimes. I think it’s akin to your wardrobe – it makes sense to buy quality jeans or a pricier purse that you will use for a long time. But then I’ll buy trendy tops or accessories at forever 21. All about balance!

  9. Kkrs November 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm


    Here is a tip for your viewers…

    I inherited a sofa and loveseat from my parents ( aka my old college couches) that were henredon and in relatively good shape, but I hate a sofa and loveseat combo… So I fixed it! I had my upholsterer cut the arm off of one of me and create me a sectional that I recovered in a velvet. If I could, idupload a picture of him. He looks good, and was very affordable.

  10. Helen November 26, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Your blue sectional IS heaven! And it looks even more comfortable. Did the same furniture maker make your kelly green tufted sofa? Would love it if you could tell us the name…

  11. Helen November 26, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Your blue sectional IS heaven! And it looks even more comfortable. Did the same furniture maker make your kelly green tufted sofa? Would love it if you could tell us the name of the guy…

  12. Pam November 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Love this kind of post!! Keep them coming. Would love to see pics of your new house in Houston.

  13. Amanda November 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Bailey, as always, this is some on-point advice! I especially love the recommendation to buy quality you can recover at a later point. I have a classic sofa and a pair of wingback chairs that must be at least 80 years old by now, inherited from my grandmother. Two years ago, I had them restuffed, recovered, had the skirting removed from the sofa, and added nailheads. I get comments all the time on our great new pieces-they are not, but quality furniture lasts and you can make it your own.

  14. Jenny November 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    What a great informative post! Thanks for taking the time to write it and for seeking feedback. I love your design work and your philosophy of buying long-lasting pieces that will grow with you.

  15. Kim November 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Thanks for posting this. Great advice! If you have a chance sometime, I’d love to hear more about creating custom furniture like your sofa. I have a lot of ideas for things I’d like to have made, but I’m not sure where to start as far as finding someone, drawing out the scale, etc…

  16. Susan November 27, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I loved this post – thank you! We are finishing our basement and we’ve just started to look at furniture. We’re on a budget, so it’s easy to jump on the ikea website and plan away. Thank you for the non-ikea suggestions, your advice helped point me in a (much) different direction.

  17. Staci November 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Loving the blue suede couch. What a great pop to add to a room. We have a similar one with zebra accents!

  18. Ellen November 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Great post! The west elm Chester in Ink Blue or Lagoon velvet (as seen in the recent catalog) seems like it might also fit the bill.

  19. Blair November 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Speaking as a gal with a tight budget, I really agree with you ‘bottom line’ statement. I’ve moved cross-country multiple times in the last few years and the pieces that have survived (both the moves and my evolving tastes) are the ones that are quality pieces. My advice for young folks on a budget is this: spend money on classic items that will survive multiple moves and changing tastes. I have a rod iron headboard and foot board that I’ve had for years and re-painted multiple times. It’s withstood both my apartments in college and my moves from Texas to New York to LA and back to Texas. An Ikea bed would not. That being said, I just bought some metal shelving for my living room from Ikea that I painted gold. It won’t withstand the tests of time, but I opted to spend the cheese on the new TV it houses. While decorating is surely different for those of us still in rentals, it’s still a good idea to invest in a solid piece with a silhouette you know will last forever. You can always re-paint or re-upholster down the line.

  20. Let’s Discuss November 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    […] small space whether it’s an amazing light in your foyer or a stove in your kitchen. And like Bailey says, the one expensive piece in a room is often what makes a space and can be the most difficult to […]

  21. […] {Peppermint Bliss} {Erin Gates via The Everygirl} Or balanced out with carmels and grays, for a boho feel… Delicious… no? What do you think? […]

  22. Debbie April 6, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I’m creating a space with the same colors you’ve used above. May I ask…from where did you purchase the rug? I love it! If there’s any chance of you emailing me that information, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!

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