Sabrina Soto hosts HGTV’s “The High Low Project,” a show where she helps people find affordable solutions to add cool, unique design elements to their homes. A recent article in the Denver Post highlighted some of Soto’s secrets and advice on finding bargain items and creating stylish settings.
• Bargain shop. Soto’s favorite haunts are thrift stores, but she also frequents online auctions, Craigslist, etsy.com, Overstock.com, Target, and HomeGoods.
• Look for new uses for common items. Next time you see an old birdcage, imagine, ooh, a cool chandelier. Likewise, when you find an ugly glass table at a thrift store, buy it for the glass, which is often worth more. Put the glass on a new, fun base. Look twice at ugly lamps. Many can be transformed with a new shade. Buy bad art if it has a cool frame.
• Read the reviews. Because pictures can be deceiving, when buying a product online, read all the customer comments. “When I’ve made a mistake, or been disappointed in an online purchase, I often find the warning was in a review,” she said. “Right there, it will say, color not as it appears! Now I religiously read them.”
• Search for design features, not names. When searching for low-cost alternatives to high-end-looks, don’t search for the item by store name. For instance, don’t search Restoration Hardware Tufted Headboard. Search for tufted headboards with bronze nail heads. “You may find one that has the same character, only it’s covered in microfiber not Belgian linen, and it costs a lot less. Also try searching by manufacturer, not store, and see if the item shows up elsewhere for less,” says Soto.
• Only make what you can’t find or afford. “I’m very time-sensitive,” says Soto, whose first choice is to find ready-to-go deals locally. When she can’t, she shops online. If she still can’t find what she wants, then she gets crafty.
• Worst corners to cut: Spend real money on upholstered items that look and feel good, said Soto, who doesn’t like to buy upholstered items used, unless they were very gently used. She has bought bargain furniture off of film sets where they were used for a shoot.
• Best corners to cut: Wood furniture. “The most awful looking pieces can be sanded down and painted.” She talked a friend, who was expecting a baby, out of buying a vintage wood dresser for her nursery that cost over $1,000. “It’s insane to spend that on nursery furniture.” Instead, Soto told her friend to buy an unfinished dresser and paint it high-gloss teal like the dresser she wanted. The friend reluctantly took her advice. They added vintage knobs from Anthropologie, “which we spent a little money on,” and it looked gorgeous — for $125.