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Expert Advice

November 6, 2010

The Sunday Times

Finding unique yet affordable statement pieces for your home may seem an impossible task, but putting some strategy behind the search can be a big help, says Switch Homes for Living interior designer Brian Haftka.
SOME people are time poor and so, understandably, are happy to head out to the stores closest to them when redecorating or putting the finishing touches on a new home.
But for those who seek to stand out from the crowd a little, there are ways to find statement pieces that dont cost the earth.
The hunt requires some lateral thinking, but its a lot of fun and the results are worth it, whether it be picking up an exquisite chandelier, feature mirror or coffee table.
My tips for sourcing unique statement pieces for your home are:
1. For distinctive artwork, think outside the square. Look in newspapers for gallery exhibitions and new openings. Consider visiting school exhibitions and universities for new and emerging artists and, if you see work that you like, approach the artist direct and commission them to create something unique and special for you. Often it will be cheaper, because there isnt a retailers margin in it.
2. Focus on bed linen. This can make or break a room. Dont go for bright, garish patterns that are stressful or alarming every time you enter the room. Just because its cheap doesnt mean you should buy it! Matching curtains to your duvet covers and bedspreads is a big NO. A plain colour or a self patterned is always good. Bring in colour with cushions or a folded comforter or throw at the end of the bed. Look for unique textiles when overseas or on holiday and have your own cushions or bed linen custom made when you get home.
3.Before going on holiday, think of where a new piece of art or a sculpture could go if you see something you like. The impulse buy sometimes is not the greatest idea, because often there is nowhere to put it, or you dont like it when you get home. Plan to carry distinctive smaller items home with you as hand luggage these pieces are not only going to be different, theyll also be a great reminder of your getaway.
4. Go to an auction. Seriously cool stuff can be found at auctions, where people are just tired of an item,or its a deceased estate involving a house lot. Look for gorgeous glass pieces, chandeliers and lamps, vases, artwork, furniture and much more.
5. Go outside the city. Many country towns are home to artists, designers and furniture makers seeking inspiration from nature and away from the hustle and bustle.To find them, talk to local store owners or the local tourism centre. Antique and second hand shops are a great way to find a piece thats not mass produced and seen in every home. Dont overlook an item simply because the frame is not in great condition or the upholsterys a bit tatty. You can re frame art or reupholster furniture if you like the piece.
6. Employ an interior designer.Their help can be invaluable if you really want to get the look you are after.This will save you money by eliminating mistakes and they can help you with a “wow” custom made piece of furniture to suit a particular area, or co ordinate all of your furnishings to pull the room together.
7. Mix and match. Giorgio Armani wrote once that his home was filled with his own designer pieces and Ikea. I love that! It proves that it doesnt need to be expensive to look great you just need to be a little imaginative and creative in how you put things together.
8. Know where to spend more. Always buy the best you can afford when purchasing larger ticket items. Research two or three brands and then make an informed decision.

Posted In: Interior Design