With a large budget, anyone with a little talent can create beautiful rooms.
But it takes someone with unlimited creativity and an artsy eye to design budget-conscious rooms that look fabulous.
One of those rare people is Tersa Agard, an artist, sculptor and decorator who has transformed her 1,802-square-foot condo into a reflection of her talents and travels.
She shops at every price level — from elite stores to consignment shops.
"You have got to know when to spend and when to save," she says. "The actual value doesn't matter to me as long as I think they work together."
Her best ingredient is her unlimited imagination. She has the ability to transform old into new, mundane into marvelous. When her 40-year-old mirrored Parsons table began to tarnish, she covered the marks with painted flowers.
When she didn't like a painting, she covered part of it with craft paper to make it look like a partially opened package. And she gave a bland tile floor pizazz with stenciling.
Mastering high and low
The focal point of her living room is an elegant, crackled-finish eight-panel screen, which she found for $900 at a consignment store. It was a bargain because she saw a similar screen selling for $5,000 at a designer showroom. Her sculpture of a woman's head on the coffee table was originally done in clay and then put into a mold and made in Lucite. The 48-by-60-inch glass coffee table shows off her splurge — a Tufenkian Tibetan rug that cost $3,500.
Let there be light
Agard started with a contemporary light fixture that looked like a curved bar with four small lamps. Now, thanks to her imagination, it's an innovative chandelier. She attached a vase-shaped metal container she bought at Marshalls and used fishing line to attach crystals, Christmas mirrors, odd knives, forks and spoons from thrift shops.
High-hat lighting is versatile but not very decorative, especially when the fixture is in the foyer. Agard came up with an attractive solution. Using stencils she bought at Michaels, she decorated around the high hat. Then she nailed a picture frame to the ceiling and added different stencils outside the frame.
Sometimes you just outgrow a painting or never really loved it anywhere. Here's a creative solution: Wrap it with craft paper, tie it with a string to keep it together and tear it to reveal just a small portion of the painting. Agard's additional touch? She addressed it to make it look more like a package.
Don't reject hanging a painting because the frame is too small. In the kitchen, she needed a larger frame to extend the size of an Indian painting on silk. She painted plywood black and attached it to the framed painting. To make the two pieces look like they belonged together, she repeated the designs from the artwork.
There's no need to get rid of your bed just because it appears too big for your new bedroom. Her bed, originally a four poster with canopy, overwhelmed the downsized bedroom in Agard's condo. Her solution? Cut down the four posters and add finials. The headboard posters are now 6½ inches tall and the footboard posters are 4½ inches tall.