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Decorating on a Dime

Reality TV star turned designer Whitney Port shares her bohemian chic ideas for transforming your living space

While the under-25 crowd knows her as Lauren Conrad's best friend and star of MTV's The City, the rest of us are just being introduced to designer and trendsetter Whitney Port. And I must say, that after reading her new book True Whit, she's definitely my kind of girl: stylish, budget-conscious and easygoing. Furthermore, her tips on creating a chic apartment are just what I needed to spruce up my pad this spring.

“You have to feel comfortable; you have to feel inspired, relaxed [and] rejuvenated,” says the California native of decorating your home. Tall order? Well, yes. But don't worry, decorating or redecorating your space doesn't have to be a one-weekend event. “Be patient,” Port insists. “It takes a while and is a never-ending process.”

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To get started, think about what you want to splurge on and what you are okay with saving on. Don't go crazy with a long list of items that you're going to buy from the Neiman Marcus catalogue. Instead, Port suggests identifying three things that you'll invest in. “Chandeliers, good bedding and a great couch,” she says, as these are timeless ways to glam up your space. As for the wallet-friendly items, hit up flea markets and chain stores for decorative pillows, cool vintage chairs and lamps.

“I splurged on an opalescent abalone shell dresser from H.D. Buttercup in Los Angeles,” Port confesses. But to stay organized she makes frequent runs to Bed Bath & Beyond for “everything you could ever need to construct an organized home [without breaking] the bank.”

Once you have decided what you'd like to splurge on, remember to consider the size of your home. With a smaller space (ahem, one tiny closet) Port has three hard and fast rules. First, divide clothes into categories— for example dresses, tops, pants, skirts— and then color-code within each category. Secondly, remember what Joan Crawford said: “No wire hangers!” Instead, use the same hangers throughout, and make sure they are slim to maximize space. Finally, Port conducts “sporadic cleaning-out missions.” Purge what you can't fit, don't wear or don't like.

Now that you've got some space and a plan, grab your girlfriends and go shopping. Two of Port's go-to stores are Anthropologie and The Container Store. “Everything there looks vintage and antique, but it isn't and is in great condition,” she says of Anthropologie. “I've gotten amazing plate sets, bathroom mats and kitchen mats, oven gloves, dish towels, decorative pillows, cereal bowls, mugs, duvet covers, lamps, candles, knobs…” Clearly Port is a fan!

“Buy things that will feminize and neutralize your space, perhaps with a little ruffle or floral print,” says Port. Then build around that with bold pops of color or patterns like stripes, which are a personal favorite of Port's.

Designing goes beyond just purging and purchasing. Another key element is organizing and staging. In the living room Port loves to see an “organized coffee table with books, a vase of orchids, pretty little things and pictures.” Whether you opt for a lovely coffee table arrangement or include mementos on bookshelves, dedicate a couple of hours to organizing to beautify your space this spring. That goes for your drawers too. Refold clothes and place them in freshly lined drawers, taking a cue from Port by using pretty floral wallpaper to line your drawers.

Take the time to really make your space your own this spring. Possibilities are endless and decorating can be so much fun. Remember to stay on budget and follow Whitney Port's design and décor tips. “Have fun with your space, and you can always change it up next season!”

  • Add a little sparkle to your space this spring, says Port.

    Simon Biswas
Decorating on a Dime
Reality TV star turned designer Whitney Port shares her bohemian chic ideas for transforming your living space
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