This is a colorful life
Walls painted lime-yellow in the 24-by-15-foot living room add zest to neutral-toned furnishings such as the sofa. The turquoise lamp and bamboo side table are vintage. The bold Seth Adelsberger painting, which further invigorates the space, was a final touch.
We were looking for a small contemporary home in East Hampton,” says Noel Berk. “Then we visited Savannah, Georgia, and fell in love with the Colonial houses there. They had such character and warmth.” On their next Long Island house-hunting trip, Berk and her partner, Liz Omedes (who’s also coprincipal of their Manhattan real estate firm, Mercedes/Berk), saw a 2,800-square-foot, fivebedroom 1840 farmhouse and were smitten.
New York designer Jamie Drake is known for his high-end elegance—for example, check out Jamie Drake’s New American Glamour (Bulfinch), where you’ll find pictures of the Manhattan loft he designed for Noel Berk and Liz Omedes. But he also loves a good bargain and doesn’t turn up his nose at shopping at Pier One or Room & Board. Here are his tips for creating style on a shoestring:
- Choose simple, classic pieces from mass-market retailers. “It’s all about having a judicious eye when selecting pieces, and then putting them together with impact,” says Drake. Stick with neutral colors, natural fabrics, and clean lines. Don’t overlook hand-me-downs that can be reinvented with new fabric or a coat of paint.
- Introduce some more unusual, one-of-a-kind pieces from vintage or custom sources. These don’t necessarily have to be expensive. Peruse flea markets, secondhand stores, or your parents’ attic for midcentury pieces, for example, to add a touch of flair. Mixing in one or two dramatic patterns, shapes, or colors will keep catalog purchases from looking too cookie-cutterish.
- Customize lighting imaginatively. Drake loves to buy vases, whether new or vintage, and have them made into interesting lamps, which is often a less expensive solution than traditional fixtures.
- Go for the cheapest makeover there is: A great new color can have huge impact, and all it costs (if you do it yourself) is the price of a gallon of paint.
- Splurge where it will do the most good. A high-quality mattress will reward you with peaceful sleep; a well-built sofa (old or new) can last for decades with occasional reupholstering.