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Designer DIY Hacks for Styling on a Budget

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021
Photo credit: Devol

This past year (and a half) has taught us so much.  We’ve taken up new hobbies, we’ve planted gardens and baked sourdough.  We have flexed creative muscles that we didn’t even know existed.  Now we want to inspire you to take that newfound creative energy even further.

It’s always a thrill to click purchase on that new sideboard or kitchen decor, but there’s no denying the sense of accomplishment and pride when you tackle something yourself.  With the same “can-do” attitude that has made these months of isolation tolerable, maybe even inspiring, we asked a few of our designers to share their favorite DIY projects to give your home a fresh new look.

Here are four low-lift, high-impact DIY projects from our designers so you can give your home the style update you’ve been craving.

Few and faux between: old world vases

Decorist designer Ellen Fleckenstein had been coveting those gorgeous antique European olive jars for sometime. But she wasn’t ready to drop $500+ for each so she decided to take matters into her own hands.

She already had two glass floor vases that she purchased several years ago for less than $20 at Homegoods. She picked up some premixed joint compound at her local home improvement store and began adding it in layers to the glass vases with rubber gloves on. She literally just rubbed it in. It took about 3 layers to get to the texture she wanted.

Ellen then sanded it down so it was smoother and closer to the natural smoothness of a handcrafted vessel. At this point they were still white, which was fine, but she wanted more of an old world look, so she mixed up some white and brown acrylic paint until she got an antique cream which she applied  to the whole vase. After it was completely dry Ellen took dirt (yes, actual dirt) and rubbed it in so it settled into all the crevices. She cleaned it up in spaces where it was too excessive and then sprayed both vessels with a matte finishing spray so they would stand the test of time. 

Ellen fools people all the time that they are 300 yrs old! 


Kitchen makeover: minimal effort, maximum appeal.

Picking up a paintbrush can be intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be! Considering that kitchen remodels are among the most expensive rooms to redo, adding a fresh coat of paint to kitchen cabinets is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to update your kitchen on a budget.

Decorist designer Mikayla Keating breaks it down, step-by-step.  Follow along for a fool-proof way to add new life to your kitchen.


  • Empty cabinets & remove all doors, drawers and shelves.
  • Clean & sand down cabinet fronts and bases
  • Apply primer and sand down after completely dry
  • Choose a cabinet/trim enamel paint. This will create a more even finish and help your cabinets stay stain and scratch-proof. 
  • Between coats, lightly sand down the fronts and bases for an even texture.
  • Put everything back together!


Now that you have mastered the cabinets, why not take it a step further and refinish your hardware for a custom, vintage vibe?  Create a worn vintage knob/pull look without the cost.



  • Start by choosing the finish you desire from Rub-n-Buff. 
  • Thoroughly clean knobs and pulls.
  • Slightly scuff hardware with fine steel wool or a sanding block for better adhesion  
  • Squeeze a small amount on your finger or small brush and gently rub it onto the hardware
  • After dry, use a soft cloth to buff to a shine. The more you buff, the brighter the finish.


Is that vintage? DIY designer lamp.


Love the look of a designer lamp, but not the price tag?  A thrifted lamp in a great shape or a base that no longer suits your style can be easily modernized.  A little paint and modeling clay can go a long way in updating a lamp.  Mikayla shares her creative tips so you too can get your dream designer lamp!

  1. Collect inspiration for what would be your dream lamp

  2. Take a current lamp your own or find one at a thrift store with the shape or similar shape you want

  3. Select a paint color.

  4. Clean and prime the lamp base

  5. If you are wanting to add some fun sculptural elements, form with sculpting clay and glue directly onto the lamp

  6. Spray paint or paint with a brush. For a textured ceramic look, add a touch of baking soda to your paint or choose a stone textured spray paint. 

  7. Select a new lampshade.

  8. Display your new lamp!


Old school meets so cool with this locker look-alike. 

We love a good Ikea hack and the design team at Nemai Studio shared this super cute idea for updating the affordable, lightweight Ikea PS cabinet.  This storage solution has a ton of possible uses.  Nemai Studio suggests this piece as a media console, a sideboard, kid’s storage or in the home office.  It’s incredibly versatile.



- 120 Sandpaper.

- Kraft board

- Plastic Primer in spray.

- Spray paint.

- Trim stripe.

- Tape measure.

- Hair dryer.

- Cloth.



  • First, we set our working area with a kraft board to protect the floors. Then we disassemble the cabinet and sand the surface of the doors and cabinet. The entire surface must be sanded so the primer can be set.
  • Once the pieces are sanded, we clean them with a dry cloth, apply the plastic primer and let them dry.
  • We start painting our cabinets with spray paint until all the surfaces are fully covered and let them dry. They might need at least 2 coats of paint.
  • With the tape measure, we mark the lines of the texture we decided for the doors, and with these guides, we start applying the trim stripe. Once we have the pattern, we use the hair dryer to make it bond.
  • Once the doors are ready, we install them back and have a new cabinet that looks brand new!


Overwhelmed by the idea of DIYing your space?  Let our designers help and start a design project today

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