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Ask A Bay Area Expert: Shopping For Home Decor On A Budget

(credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Are you interested in decorating your home but have a limited budget? It's not impossible to get the look you desire while keeping your wallet happy as well. Here are some do-it-yourself tips from Lian Eoyang, owner of ViF Studio and Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the California College of Arts.

Lian Eoyang
ViF Studio
2325 3rd St., Suite 229
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 475-9494

Bay Area design expert Lian Eoyang owns and operates ViF Studio. Ms. Lian holds a Master of Architecture from Harvard University and also serves as Adjunct Professor in Architecture at the California College of Arts campus in San Francisco. Here are her thoughts on money-saving ways to decorate on a budget.

Declutter as much as possible

"Shedding unnecessary items is one of the most liberating things for your home. If you haven't used it in the past two years, it can probably go. In my home, we got rid of one thing a day for a year (check out the hashtag #less365 on Twitter), and really enjoy the lightness and nimbleness of living with less. You'll also enjoy the tax write-off by donating, or the fun of hosting a garage sale!"

Get organized

"Matching organizing containers helps achieve a sense of cohesiveness, but there's no need to overspend on expensive items at organization stores (like The Container Store or Bed Bath and Beyond). Get creative and use quirky containers like vintage wooden crates, mason jars and sturdy baskets. Just make sure they match, or at least coordinate! Etsy and the Alameda Flea Market (first Sunday of every month) are great places to find these."



"For an economical upgrade that can recharge a room, change out the hardware. Invest in hardware that is well made with solid operation. Because we touch light switches, door handles and cabinet hardware every day, subconsciously these touchable elements affect whether or not we connect with the space as 'luxurious' or 'refined.'"



"Transform a dull room by updating outdated lighting fixtures, especially pendants, chandeliers and sconces. Installing an in-style statement fixture will go a long way to refreshing a space. This can be done yourself, but remember to first turn off the breaker and check that the ceiling will support the weight of the fixture. Restoration Hardware lights are well made and work with a variety of styles; Schoolhouse Electric offers affordable fixtures in similar styles. Ikea offers a few fixtures that can pass as something much more expensive.

"Make sure to choose a bulb with warm lighting (2700k), and stay eco-friendly if you can. Luckily, we now have a wide array of LED bulbs available to us that fit into traditional sockets, and some that can even be controlled via smartphone."


Internal organization

"Being trained as an architect, I favor making a few strategic, creative adjustments to the layout. This investment will offer an even bigger impact than updating decor, improving not only your quality of living, but also resale value.

"For oversized kitchens, add an island (moveable or stationary) in order to increase usability and provide an environment for 'cross talk.' For the ambitious DIYer, break down a non-load bearing wall to open up a tight space. With the right circulation and interior flow, your home will last for generations and accommodate future changing styles."

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on


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