19 design-y decor ideas (from an architect)

They’re all under $301

As an
architect
, I have the great fortune of working on high-profile
projects with custom furniture and luxurious materials. I don’t
have that same
luxury
when it comes to my own home, so I’ve gotten creative
about finding more
affordable pieces
that allow me to incorporate of-the-moment
design trends, like curved forms, offbeat colors, and
rich textures
, on a more, shall we say, modest budget.

A table with two levels, under a round mirror.

I first saw this on Instagram and immediately had to take a
second look. The sharp console is constructed of six lozenge
shapes; we’re seeing this geometry in absolutely every design
magazine right now. The natural texture of the wood is balanced by
the clean concentric lines. It’s one of my favorite pieces from
Amazon’s very good, limited-edition run of Jonathan Adler.

A small beige round table with angled legs.

I love the pure geometry of this piece; one rectangle, one
triangle, and one circle slot together to make a statement that
looks different from every angle. For our hospitality projects,
we’re often looking for sculptural little
side tables
that can work together, compositionally, with a
lounge chair, but this one’s also great as a plant
stand
— or even a stool — in a pinch.

Cube with different colored sides.

Another standout piece from Amazon’s Jonathan Adler collection
is this multicolored mirrored accent table. Group a few together
for a coffee table stand-in, or stick with one if your
apartment’s on the smaller side. The reflective detail will bring
a little shine to your space — and the mirrored surface will make
your room look larger, too.

Rectangular moss green pillow.

Arcs, arches, and the aforementioned lozenges are ubiquitous in
interior design right now. There’s still a lot of life left in
this trend, as the look only recently found its way to mass market
retailers like Target. On a recent hospitality project, we mixed
these pillows in with custom ones from Zak & Fox and Maharam,
and they looked right at home. The color’s sophisticated, and the
lumbar shape serves as a nice counterpart to more typical square
throw
pillows
.

Blue-greenish marble slab in a L-shape.

The silhouettes, colors, and materials of the 1980s are back
with a vengeance, and I’m particularly excited about loud and
colorful marbles. I spend a lot of time at stone yards selecting
slabs of marble for projects, and I dream of finding a slab of deep
green marble with blue undertones to use with walnut and brass for
a kitchen island. For now, though, I’ll settle for this amazingly
affordable bookend.

Square pink pillow sits on a round wooden stool.

Velvet, as well as its plusher cousin mohair, instantly elevates
sofas, chairs, and pillows. The material also ages beautifully and
is easy to clean. I especially like the luxurious but affordable
cushions from Woven Nook. They come in a range of offbeat and
striking colors; this cozy-feeling blush would be great for a

hygge winter
.

Round gold-finish stool.

From candles to vases to this pretty little side table from
Target, stacked totem-like shapes are everywhere right now. I’m a
sucker for metallics, and this lands just on the right side of
tacky for me.

Rectangular bench with woven seating.

For a recent project, we worked with weavers in Denmark for six
months to create custom pieces, but this much more affordable
version is honestly 90 percent as great at a tenth of the cost.
While it’s certainly on-trend, it’s also a piece you’ll want
to keep for a very long time. At work, we often pair these with a
long
dining table
or place them at the foot of a bed.

Two terrazzo-print pillars with column-like white candles on top.

Architects love terrazzo for its endless variations; we’ve
used it with tiny flecks of mica for poured flooring in retail
stores; with giant pieces of pink aggregate for café spaces; and
with subtle tone-on-tone coloration for tiles. For those a smaller
touch of terrazzo, I recommend these, which can serve as
candleholders, mantle decorations, and tablescape décor. I love
their brass belts, which are reminiscent of the brass divider
strips we’d use for poured terrazzo surfaces.

Bench with pink seating and black frame.

Drawing from the skinny-leg furniture from Scandinavian
furniture leaders like Hay and Muuto, this bench has a great
balance of spare and soft. I love the asymmetry of the front and
back and the great coral pink color of the padded top.

L-shaped side table with white surface and black legs.

A study in balance of form and material, this travertine side
table looks far more expensive than it is. The creamy warmth of the
stone pairs well with more strong-willed tones and textures. We
frequently use travertine as a complement to bold colors and
materials like walnut and blackened steel.

Editor’s Note: This side table is sold out at Anthropologie,
but this
stone and metal side table
, also from Anthropologie, has a nice
balanced look. If you want straight-up travertine, here’s a

cube
from Pottery Barn.

Plant in a pink planter.

This affordable yet elegant planter elevates any old Ikea snake
plant. When we’re starting on a project, the first thing we do is
bring in as many
plants
as we can. They add life to shelves, fill odd corners,
and produce a biophilic human response of calm and focus. This
planter has made an appearance in many recent projects alongside
woven baskets, bubbled glass, and other textured vessels.

Hexagonal tiles in a blush color.

I received this set of tiles as a gift from my business partner
and loved it so much I now give it out to friends all the time.
They function as coasters or, when clustered together, as a trivet,
and they’re fun to play with like a puzzle.
They also look great on a wood coffee table or a composed
tablescape. I like them best in this soft matte pink, but they also
come in a chalky black and a persimmon red.

Tan colored candle with ridges.

Here’s that totem shape again, this time in soft desaturated
hues and scentless wax. At work, I often use these in groups for a
sculptural installation on a table.

Clear soap with colorful bits embedded.

Reminiscent of the
Memphis design movement
, with a touch of Lisa Frank and
Beetlejuice, this wacky soap makes the ’80s kid in me very happy.
It’s a great gift for someone who loves wild colors and patterns
but isn’t quite ready to commit to a hot-pink chair.

Rug with an angular purple and black pattern.

If, on the other hand, you’re ready for a step up from
wild-colored soap, this flat-woven wool rug would brighten up any
space. We often suggest to clients that they invest in neutral and
timeless anchor pieces, like
sofas
and dining tables, but then supplement with bold
supporting pieces, like rugs and side chairs, that can be changed
out more frequently.

Tan-orange colored table with round column-like legs.

Terracotta is a pretty timeless material, but it’s having a
bit of a moment in jewelry, interior finishes, and housewares. This
side table, with its elephant-thick legs and
adorably chubby shape
, is the opposite of the slim-lined
Scandinavian furniture that has dominated the market for the past
few years. Scroll through Instagram and you’ll see an emerging
aesthetic of rough plaster walls, blobby forms, and creature-like

ceramics
.

Editor’s Note: This stool is sold out, but the
Bongo stool
—which is taller than the Bingo and has one leg
instead of three—is available for the same price.

A small curved table sits near a bigger curved table.

This is a playful contemporary spin on the Danish woven cord
bench, simplified into a rounded singular shape. For residential
projects, I steer away from large glass or wood coffee tables with
hard edges. In my own family’s home, the coffee table gets a lot
of wear and tear, with children crawling on top and dogs scratching
underneath, and I imagine my clients are no different. I recommend
buying this table in both sizes (the small goes for $99, the large
for $179), and placing them perpendicular to each other. It’s a
strong statement that totals less than $300.

An armchair with off-white woven seating and a black wood frame.

You knew there needed to be some cane on this list, right? From
headboards to plant stands to those ubiquitous
Urban Outfitters chairs
, woven wicker caning has been
everywhere these past few years. What drew me to this particular
piece is its square geometry, its high thin back, and the
juxtaposition of black-painted elm wood and cane. It’s a neutral
accent piece that can complement existing living room furniture,
but it’s unique enough to stand on its own. We’re using this
exact one on some upcoming projects.

Source: FS – All – Architecture 10
19 design-y decor ideas (from an architect)