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An Expert Guide To High-Low Home Styling

By Rachel Wallace
When it comes to sorting functions, no one legitimately shops from highest to lowest price. Regardless of how many zeros in your pay, we all delight in that satisfying dopamine rush from a bargain.

That’s where high-low home styling comes into its own – the process of seamlessly blending a sensible mix of individual investment pieces with more affordable items.

Anyone can high-low style says Melbourne-based interior designer and decorator, Jasmine McClelland, principal designer at Jasmine McClelland Design.

High-low styling is all about blending a mix of investment pieces with more affordable items. Styling: Simone Haag Photo: Mark Roper

“It’s particularly good for those on a tighter budget. High-low home styling is all about smoke and mirrors and knowing where to invest in the standout pieces,” McClelland says.

WA-based interior designer Tarina Lyell, of Oh Eight Oh Nine agrees, adding the approach also suits “interior lovers who gravitate towards seasonal trends and palettes”.

Where to spend

McClelland recommends determining your overall figure when setting an interior budget. From here, break down the rooms and items for each room by researching cost ranges.

A quality couch is always a worthy investment piece. Oak House Kennedy Nolan. Photo: Derek Swalwell

“Prioritise your money into important items you interact with most such as sofas, feature chairs, dining chairs, beds and work back from there,” says McClelland.

While comfort is a key consideration, form and quality fabrics will also add to the item’s longevity. She recommends the Melbourne made Molmic or Jardan for sofas and Blu Dot for beds. Other favourites are Ajar, Great Dane, Open Room and Cult.

Lyell confers with these key investment pieces, also noting that home offices have become new spaces to devote your dollars.

“If you work from home, you might want to invest in a bespoke office fit-out to maximise organisation, storage and function,” she says.

One of interior designer and decorator Jasmine McClelland’s favourite brands is Cult. Photo: Supplied.

As for bespoke items, McClelland often recommends custom dining tables to maximise a particular space and cabinetry such as TV units or bedside tables, which have specific storage needs.

“We also often recommend clients invest in having an old armchair reupholstered in a fabulous new fabric.”

Lyell believes the beauty of custom upholstery is its adaptability, so the configuration, measurements and fabric can suit your home.

“They’re usually locally made with a lengthy warranty, too. Reputable brands like Jardan, Arthur G, Zenn Design, Molmic and Heatherly Designs are a few that come to mind,” she says.

Where to save

Lyell recommends Ikea for TV unit systems, including Shaker-style door profiles and floating wall units. “Their PAX wardrobe system is also a great alternative to a custom made wardrobe and will save you thousands,” she says.

Custom-made wardrobes can cost thousands. Photo: Supplied

As for other major savings, Lyell rates Kmart and Target for bedding inserts such as quilts, European and standard pillows and scours Etsy or other online wall art companies for interesting pieces.

“Commissioned pieces deserve front-and-centre display in main living areas, however for hallways and minor bedrooms I will happily use affordable, joyful wall art,” she says.

Lyell also believes decorating fillers – hardcover books, glass vases for foliage, candles, trays, serving boards – can be sourced from affordable retailers such as Kmart, Target, Myer, Freedom, Spotlight, Country Road and Ikea.

Lyell recommends sourcing vases, candles, trays and serving boards from affordable retailers. Photo: Kmart

“By spending less on these fillers, you can invest more on feature styling pieces,” she says.

Meanwhile, Life Interiors, RJ Living and Trit House are McClelland’s go-to options for affordability, saving on smaller items such as coffee tables, side tables, ottomans and rugs.

“You can find some really great rugs at more affordable pricing, especially something neutral that will sit back in the space,” she says.

Where to start

As for how to begin high-low home styling, McClelland says it’s concept first.

“Come up with a feeling you’re trying to achieve and gather some inspiration,” she says. “Let the items you fall in love with guide your decisions for the smaller items and then layer and add personality.”

Lyell says research first, check out online portfolios or social media for inspiration and, if you need extra help, engage a professional.

How to tie it together

High-low styling will flow if “your colour palette and design style are cohesive throughout your home”, says Lyell, with McClelland agreeing. “Your choices need to relate to each other.”

“You also want to ensure that the pieces you have invested in are the ones standing out and be considerate with material and colour choices,” McClelland says.

And, don’t forget the outdoors – high-low home styling should flow from inside to out, with Lyell recommending Globewest and Satara for beautiful high-quality, outdoor furniture ranges.


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