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Expensive ideas adapted for a budget

A custom sofa can help mirror the architectural

A custom sofa can help mirror the architectural curve of a room. Credit: Robert Granoff

Want your home to look like this inspiration room? The designers dish on what it takes, why it’s worth it — and ways to fake it for less.

What it takes: Cara Zolot-Woodhouse, co-owner of Brookville-based Morris & Woodhouse, says her firm’s specialty is creating one-of-a-kind designs — then breaking the mold. “If you look at our spaces, most things are kind of different and unique, and not typical things designers throw in all the time,” she says. “We never like to repeat anything.”

This can mean going to unusual lengths to procure exceptional finds. For instance, when co-owner Melanie Morris spotted this vintage 1970s Italian cocktail table, she knew nothing else would do — but then she learned it was already sold. Undeterred, Morris convinced the seller to persuade the first buyer to give it up so she could purchase it for this Old Westbury living room.

The first step in the team’s creative process is to develop what they refer to as a “scheme,” says Morris. “We select all the fabrics first, and say this is the sofa fabric, this is for the pillows, these are for the ottomans, these are for the chairs. Then we select the rug, and then start pulling together the furniture.” This room was part of a whole-house interior design project. Materials were purchased at trade pricing, which differs from retail prices shown.

Vintage cocktail table

$4,548 (retail)

Why it’s worth it: If you can only splurge on one item, make it the coffee table — it’s the centerpiece of any seating area, says Morris. This authentic 1970s Italian table is constructed of enamel lacquer on wood substrate. “We like to choose ‘wow’ pieces in our rooms, and that was a wow factor in this room,” she says. They purchased the table through, an online marketplace selling antiques and other gorgeous goodies.

Get the look for less: If you can’t afford the real thing, seek out vintage-inspired looks at a modern retailer such as CB2, says Morris. “Find an unusual material, something with dimension, with interest and pop that catches your eye.”

Custom window treatments

$45 per yard (retail)

Why it’s worth it: The dramatic drapery plays up the architecture by emphasizing the soaring windows. “It really shows off the height of the ceilings. It’s very sexy; it softens the room,” says Zolot-Woodhouse. “There are two layers . . . The fabric on the sides was linen.”

Get the look for less: If linen drapery is out of your budget, have floor-to-ceiling sheers made, or make them yourself, says Zolot-Woodhouse. Try Huntington Fabric Depot, which sometimes has drapery sheers for as low as $6.95 per yard.

Custom sofa

$11,000 (retail estimate)

Why it’s worth it: “We had seen an old Milo Baughman sofa that was beautiful, but we needed a bigger size and we wanted it to mirror that architectural curve in the room,” says Zolot-Woodhouse. Their solution was to custom-design a larger version, fashioned after the original.

Get the look for less: “EBay has amazing vintage furniture at a fraction of the cost,” says Zolot-Woodhouse.

Custom rug

$14,000 (retail estimate)

Why it’s worth it: The designers had Rug Couture in England custom-make this stunning rug to their exact specs and color choices to ensure it would coordinate beautifully with the overall design. “We did a drawing and selected every color that’s in it . . . It’s 100 percent viscose, so it has a shimmer to it.”

Get the look for less: Surprisingly, customizing your own rug might be a cost-effective choice. Zolot-Woodhouse estimates that a pre-made, high-quality rug of this size could run as much as $40,000, while custom rugs can start at $20 per square foot.

Tabletop accessories

$1,400 (retail)

Why it’s worth it: The designers scouted high-end shops such as Calypso Home, RabLabs and Flair New York to curate this dazzling tabletop arrangement, which includes a facet crystal table lighter, a nickel deluxe ashtray and a rock crystal tray.

Get the look for less: Eye-catching accessories don’t always need to be extravagant. For example, “That tray on the table is from West Elm, very inexpensive,” says Zolot-Woodhouse.

Custom pillows

$150 per yard (retail)

Why it’s worth it: To create a sumptuous feel and visual pop, the designers had all the pillows custom-made in a decadent linen-velvet blend they obtained through a trade source. “You want a delicious yummy fabric on a pillow, because you’re lying on it. It should have the softest and nicest finish to it.”

Get the look for less: Zolot-Woodhouse suggests searching for designer fabrics by the yard. “Because they purchase fabrics at wholesale trade prices, an Etsy vendor can probably even source it for you and have it made.”


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