Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hard times call for creative ways to stretch your design dollar

My daughter, Sydney, has just grown out of her crib.....well, she grew out of it about a year ago. I guess it's more that I am ready to move on to the big girl bed.  It was hard for me as a designer to not go "hog wild" on the bed frame and all the bedding, but I had to restrain myself and think practically.  First thing I did was look out for sales online.  I got an amazing deal on a daybed, from no other than Restoration Hardware Baby and Child.  If you wait and be patient, it's amazing what you will find.  I also kept in mind the longevity of the piece. Think about how long she/he can use the bed. Will they outgrow it, or can it be used later in college, or as a piece in a guest room later when the kids are gone? I went even a bit further and bought a bed that could be used vertically in the room (headboard/footboard) or as a daybed. This way we have options as she grows and wants to give her opinion (WE"RE NOT REALLY GOING TO LET HER HAVE AN OPINION ARE WE????!!!).

The next thing I needed to think about was bedding. We are renting now, so the walls are white, but I really wanted to incorporate some of the existing color scheme from her nursery. Her original nursery was a combination of bright pink and white gingham from Pottery Barn Kids with white matelasse diamond. I used this with a gorgeous Brunschwig and Fil wallpaper scene of bunnies in the same raspberry and white color scheme. Well, didn't I say times are tough? We can't do Brunschwig wallpaper anymore!!! I needed to think about how to make it special, taking into consideration Sydney's need for a "princess" theme. ( She did not specify Disney princess, so she ain't gettin it!) While she was still in the crib I kept my eyes open for big girl bedding that would go with my existing gingham stuff (I still had draperies and basket covers). One way to make things easier on the wallet is to buy things one or two pieces at a time. Unless it's on clearance/closeout. By the time I was ready to buy the big bed, I had all the bedding pieces and it didn't seem like such a big purchase. 

Tiff's Tip: If you can, either keep a few swatches or scanned pictures of fabric and existing pieces in a baggie and keep it in your purse. Even as a trained designer, sometimes my memory is not so accurate and I come home with things that are off in color. It'll just save you a trip, or $$$  if you buy a non-returnable item.

So, I had the bed and most of the bedding (sheets, comforter, shams) but I wanted to do something extra without spending too much. I really wanted her daybed to look like a sofa during the day, so I felt bolsters would look great flanking each end. But.....when I have done bolsters in the past, they've really been expensive, yikes! Also, the scale had to be just right. If you make a bolster too wimpy (my way of saying small) it won't look good, it will also cheapen the look. I searched online for a bolster/bolster insert but found nothing big enough (I was looking for at least a 36" length and a diameter of at least 8 or 9". Remember, a twin bed's depth is 39" approx.) I was just about to trash the whole idea when.....I hit the jackpot! I was wandering through HomeGoods, just looking for that one of a kind thingy, when I found huge bolsters!!!! They were blue, not pink, but the size was great (39" x 10" diameter) Perfect! And, the price...fabulous at 14 bucks a piece! You can't beat that price! Now I had to think about fabric and actually reupholstery...ugh! Again, my creative juices were flowing and I realized I could easily re-use the crib bedding without any additional cost for fabric. The crib sheets (the pink and white gingham) could be used for the body of the bolsters, and for the ends I thought the white matelasse duster could be pieced together. 

All I had to do now is find someone to make it.  Through my sister-in-law I found a great resource for anyone in South Charlotte. Her name is Tracy Garrett and she owns her own bedding and drapery company called Southern Expressions.  She gave me a great price.  The last thing I did was hunt down a small trim to put on the edge, to give it a finished look.  Trim, generally, can add a lot to the cost, but if you can find a large remnant or closeout you can really do well. I went to Robyn's Fabrics and Custom Design in Pineville and found the perfect little trim; 5 yards for 12 bucks!!!!Woohoo!!! The bolsters turned out great, and made the bed look full and comfy.

What would finish off a bed fit for a princess???? A crown cornice of course!!! This too can be a pricey endeavor.  The cornice I had my eyes on was about 300 dollars without fabric. Yikes, again! So, I needed to think.  With a little research on the web, I found a person in NC who makes wooden crown cornices that even comes with a rod to hang fabric from (DeCarlo Woodworks).  For about 80 dollars, I had a cheaper version that was fit for a 3 year old princess. I painted it pink (per her request, I would have preferred white myself, but hey, I can bend a little) and bought matching sheets to the comforter for the drapery and sewed a pocket for the rod myself (if I can do it, anybody can do it).

pre-painted cornice

Painted pink with draperies made with bed sheets
For the finale I wanted to put her name under the cornice. Even this simple idea can add up. Most letters run about 8-12 dollars a letter, even doing a shortened version of her name (SYD) would run $30. Again, I wanted to try and do it for less. I found that Michael's carries already primed (white) letters for $2 a letter. Wow, what a difference. I embellished these plain white letters by painting the same pink on the cornice to the sides and I added a cut out of a crown for the S for an extra $1. I painted the crown a brighter pink to tie into the bedding and stuck diamonds on it to give it extra "'bling".

bling on the cut-out crown
Letters from Michael's, I just painted pink on the edges !


  That's it! Bed treatment finished, with minimal cost. Our princess is happy!

Happily Ever After!


  1. Tiff,

    I love your blog! I need it too, since I'm a complete design derelict.

    Your old friend,
    Jen (Taber) Bascom

  2. Hey Tiff!!

    You never cease to amazing me with your amazing, artful talents!! Bravo on the bed, it is soooo adorable - fit for Princess Syndey! I definetly can use your advise on this bc I want to upgrade both the kids room so thxxxxx for that...can't wait for your next blog!!