On TV, Candice Olson makes interior design look easy. Her rooms feel posh and contemporary, crisp and detailed but not fussy or overdone.
Olson, the host of "Divine Design" on HGTV, is a new judge on the fourth season of HGTV "Design Star." Here are some of her budget-minded design tricks.
How to change a room for $100 or less: Pick up a gallon of paint. "A simple bold accent wall behind a tired, old sofa can give your room a new lease on life," Olson says. Or swap the incandescent bulbs in your light fixtures for halogen bulbs. "Halogen renders colors true and bright, whereas incandescent washes your room in a dingy yellow cast."
If you can spend up to $500: Replace a single, flush-mounted light fixture with an 8-foot track/low-voltage halogen light kit, sold at building-supply stores. "The flexibility of the track heads allows you to light and accent what you really want," Olson says. "Install the appropriate dimmer switch, and you will barely recognize your room."
What to do with $1,000: With your core pieces in place, update a room by changing rugs, pillows, throws and other accents. Olson advises her clients not to scrimp on core furnishings such as sofas, and she recommends keeping them neutral and classic. To keep a room fresh, introduce vivid colors and patterns with accessories.
Three principles for low- or high-end design:
1. Avoid impulse buys. Create a plan and stay on track.
2. Good design takes time and will not happen overnight.
3. Layer your lighting. Options include adjustable overheads, pendants, sconces and table lamps. "Use light to accent art and accessories, to bring up the texture of materials and to create drama and intimacy," Olson says.
Good design is in the details: No matter your budget, execute your plan carefully, she says. "A poor paint job is the easiest way to make a million-dollar room look trashy and cheap."