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High-end decor tips for a budget-friendly living room makeover

Sag Harbor-based designer Tamara Magel shows you how.

This Sagaponack living room was designed by Sag

This Sagaponack living room was designed by Sag Harbor's Tamara Magel. Photo Credit: Tamara Magel Design / Rikki Snyder

The secret to the warm, sophisticated allure of this Sagaponack living room is the clever interplay between contrasting elements — rustic and refined, formal and casual, old and new. Influences from around the globe infuse the modern farmhouse-style home with understated worldly flair. “I’m really into mixing things from different countries, along with different materials,” says Sag Harbor-based designer Tamara Magel. “Doing that in a very balanced way is what makes a room special.”

WHAT IT TAKES: This room was budgeted as part of a whole-house design project. To create a room of similar size and design caliber, Magel estimates it would cost about $100,000, including the designer’s fee, labor and materials at trade pricing, which differs from retail. (This estimate excludes the artwork, which belonged to the client, and the custom fireplace.)

Following are five fabulous features, plus the designer’s tips for creating your own luxe look for less.

Tibetano wool rug $13,650 (retail estimate)

WHY IT’S WORTH IT: Hand-knotted in India, this 12-by-15- foot custom rug’s uncommon softness, low profile and unique pattern add warmth and texture without bulk. Critically, the sprawling size accommodates all the furniture — a design essential that laymen often overlook, Magel says.

DO IT FOR LESS: If the right size is beyond your budget, don’t try to fudge it. Instead, be intentional — go small with something that’s meant to be small, like an animal hide, Magel advises.

Mel Bochner original artwork $40,000-$100,000 (estimate)

WHY IT’S WORTH IT: With its splashy colors and irreverent message, this mono-print collage with engraving and embossment by artist Mel Bochner is the perfect playful foil to the formal fireplace.

DO IT FOR LESS: You don’t need to be an art expert to make a fun statement, Magel says. “Find something whimsical. I love word art, and it’s so popular right now.”

Vintage Italian chairs $13,000 for two

WHY IT’S WORTH IT: These Hans Wegner vintage Italian chairs are collectibles that were purchased at auction as a pair. Magel had them reupholstered in sumptuous shearling.

DO IT FOR LESS: The plushness is more important to the design than the specific chairs, Magel says. Bring in something soft, even if it’s just a cuddly pillow. Try the CB2 23-by-11-inch Icelandic shorn sheepskin pillow, with feather-down insert ($139).

Moroccan table$11,000

WHY IT’S WORTH IT: The spacious floor plan demanded an oversized table. Magel had this Moroccan table custom made with a metal frame wrapped in lambskin, for a unique piece that feels “casual and rich.”

DO IT FOR LESS: Instead of custom, try English Country Home in Bridgehampton to find an oversized table. Make it interesting with an “eclectic mix of accessories,” Magel says.

Arrow pendant light $4,750

WHY IT’S WORTH IT: The rustic aged brass finish and chic contemporary lines of this pendant light by Apparatus Studio are spot-on for the space. “It’s the coolest, hippest lighting line. It’s so simple, yet so beautiful, and it just has this power in the room,” says Magel.

DO IT FOR LESS: Love this lighting designer? Apparatus Studio sells smaller accessories for less. For lower-priced pendant lights, try Suffolk Designer Lighting in Southampton.

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