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Affordable and Appropriate Interior Design Sources

by Chad Ludeman on December 29, 2008 · 21 comments

in Design,interior design

As we are nearing the completion of the 100K House, we have been giving more thought to the interior design of the home. After all, now that we are moving into the home, it will become somewhat of a show piece for those interested in purchasing a future unbuilt project based on the same concept. We’d also like to get some good professional photos taken of the home for PR purposes, so the interior design is not something to take lightly.

Mid-Century Modern Interior Example

So what is the appropriate what to design the interior of the 100K House. First of all there is the budget. It just wouldn’t seem right to put $25K worth of furnishings into a house whose claim to “fame” is it’s low construction budget of $100K. At the same time, it would be shortsighted and irresponsible to fill it completely with IKEA and compromised thrift store finds. There needs to be a balance.

In our minds, the balance is between carefully selected thrift store/flea market finds, custom made pieces, reasonably priced new furniture and a few designer splurges. The thrift finds could be from local thrift stores and flea markets, but they could also be from ebay or craigslist. The custom pieces could be simple items made by our cabinet maker, Pappajohn Woodworking, or ourselves. The reasonably priced furniture could come from internet stores, local shops and the ever important IKEA. Finally, if budget permits, we could afford to splurge on a few classic design pieces from today or 50 years ago.

Interior Designers

Thrifty Vintage Furniture

Affordable, Modern & New Furniture

Modern, Green and/or Classic Furniture Splurges

Your Thoughts on Modern, Green & Affordable Interior Design?

So now that you’ve made it through out less than thorough list, we have some questions that we are interested to here your thoughts on. Hopefully this will be a starter post on the subject of modern and affordable interior design with a green tint here at 100K. Now is your chance to influence future decisions of ours and others reading. Feel free to answer all or none of the following:

  1. What are some other key sources or modern interior desing and furniture that we missed?
  2. What is the right balance of old and new furniture? Is 100% in either direction unacceptable?
  3. How do the three factors of modern, green and budget rank in your personal scale in regards to home furnishings?

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Art and Interior Furnishings for the 100k House | 100K House Blog
January 13, 2009 at 1:09 pm
Affordable & Modern Interior Design for the 100K House | 100K House Blog
January 21, 2009 at 3:42 pm

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lavardera December 29, 2008 at 3:51 pm

under classic splurges:

2 Brandon December 29, 2008 at 5:56 pm

1: I got nothing.

2: I don’t think it’s possible to put a number (percentage wise) on what the “correct” balance is between old and new, I don’t even think there is such thing as a “correct” balance between old and new. Going 100% in either direction is completely acceptable, though it’s not my personal taste. The vast majority of people’s tastes will vary greatly so this is definitely a loaded question.

3: You’re building a modern green home so obviously you should carry that theme/ideal through the entirety of the project. Mix in a few old pieces (or vintage modern) and I think you’ll be doing fine.

As for budget I don’t necessarily agree with your idea of not putting a lot of money into furnishings for a house solely because it has a low construction budget.

A) Your construction budget is an entirely different thing than the decorating budget. Your construction budget was based on the idea of being able to building an affordable, modern, and green home for $100k. Your sale price will be at least double that amount. In your neighborhood (Kenzo) that makes it, at minimum, an average price for that size house.

B) As you’ve stated this is a show piece, so make it look like one. If you have to spend a little more to dress up the interior then spend it. If you want something and it costs a little more than you’re willing to spend just think about whether or not it might help sell future versions of the house. If it will help further future goals then it is worth every penny.

A perfect example would be a really great vintage couch. It might cost lets say $3,500. It fits your theme being both green and modern but doesn’t fit the budget. You know it would look awesome in the house and really make the living area look great. To me it’s worth it to spend the extra money on something like this than on something cheaper from say Ikea, CB2, etc.

I’m not saying you should go all out and buy nothing but vintage and designer pieces, just saying I don’t think your construction cost should determine how much you spend on the decorating (especially in a model/show home). You’re decorating a 1000+ square foot home after all, if you spend $15k, even $25k that’s really not too bad at all with the amount of things you’ll need to be buying. If you can be modern/old/vintage, green, and make it look great for cheap…then more power to you.

3 Dan Bailey-Yavonditte December 29, 2008 at 5:58 pm

I think doing the design you want in the house is key. But having estimated options for both a low end, for low income families, and high end buyers. Having options for low end buyers I think is key to your idea.
Are you designing this house to be a model to help low income families to own their own houses?

4 lavardera December 29, 2008 at 6:03 pm

also its not unusual to borrow furniture for a photo shoot

5 chad December 29, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Brandon – Great advice, thanks.

Dan – No, we are not designing the house to be a model for low-income families. In terms of income, our clients will be above the median income for the area, but not likely too far above.

We are not offering options for interior design (at least not at this point), but rather want to show the home in the best light for our target customer that may be walking through in the next year.

Also, as Greg points out, we want to make it look pretty for pics and could easily accomplish this with borrowed pieces.

6 Brandon December 29, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Shameless family promotion.

If you end up doing a photo shoot and go the professional direction over the DIY direction my wife does styling for a living. She does mostly fashion stuff but has done quite a few model homes/units for other developers in the city.

There are 4 interior shots on the right side, middle row of photos. Like I said, mostly fashion, but a few interior shots.

7 chad December 29, 2008 at 6:57 pm

B – Nice. Does she have a interior design / wardrobe consultant package? We need a Postgreen wardrobe overhall. ;)

8 Brian Jewett December 29, 2008 at 7:01 pm

If you’re going to sell the house, why BUY furniture for it just to sell it at a loss later or store it for another time. With all the publicity you’ve been getting with the blog and news stories I’m sure you can find “sponsorship” from local design & furniture stores. They might like to have their furniture seen in your house with their names on it. If it works well in the house, the buyers might even buy some of it right where it sits. Failing that, you might ask about a rental deal.

9 Erik Nelson December 29, 2008 at 7:40 pm

work our a couple of your own versions of these, or maybe a coffee table?

10 chad December 29, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Erik – This is a great piece. If I remember correctly, you can buy the plans to build this for $10. That would look nice in the back yard. Let us know if you find the link to download the design specs.

11 Erik Nelson December 30, 2008 at 4:13 am

Palette chair design, and other great ideas found here;

Just trying to think of cool ideas that cost little to no money.

12 chad December 30, 2008 at 10:31 am

You’re speaking our language Erik. I wonder how many of these things we could pull off? I know just the right guy to try. We’ll keep you posted.

13 Rob December 30, 2008 at 12:02 pm

I think spending 10% of the selling price for a complete house of furnishings is really not that outlandish at all, but you could probably get away with less.
I personally would love to see a tricked out modern furnished house with just a flair of retro, but then I have always wanted a Corbu couch from DWR (mmm black leather, chorme…sorry). However for this house I would say that being green should rule, or at the very least everything should be as green as it can be.

And if you can stand the pallet chair then check out what Rural Studio has done. While they have built almost exclusively buildings, they have been very inovative at creating with used, reclaimed, green, donated and discared materials. They have build walls out of hay, old tires, bottles, carpet tiles and old car windows to name a few of the materials.

Or check out for ideas on carpet sample furniture.

14 Nance December 30, 2008 at 4:46 pm

I recommend:

  • Blu Dot: 2 architects & 1 sculptor design modern, affordable furniture. Minneapolis.
  • MASHstudios: LAXseries & Teca minimalist furniture lines. Los Angeles.
  • Loll DESIGNS: mod outdoor furniture constructed of 100% post consumer recycled plastic. Duluth.
  • DwellStudio for Target bedding collection.

I like the art direction & styling of the Blu Dot catalog. They accessorize their rooms with high-end lighting, vintage sports equipment, & distinctive artwork. Use their catalog as a template for the 100K House interiors.

15 chad December 31, 2008 at 10:25 am

Nance – Thanks for the suggestions. I like them all. I really like the Blue Dot line and have a couple pieces on our wish list from there for the house. Fosters on our list carries their line locally. Thanks again, and I think you’ll see stuff from your list in future posts as we narrow things down…

16 Goran December 31, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Shoji: How to Design, Build, and Install Japanese Screens (Paperback) ($15 @

Haven’t tried, but I suppose a table saw and sharp dado blade could cut construction time as compared to traditional methods.

For humid or outdoor settings, there are synthetic alternatives to traditional Shoji paper.

17 Jon January 4, 2009 at 1:15 pm

for the designer splurges… there are a lot of classics here;

and many items are available w/out the designer price there as well

18 Michael McTigue January 5, 2009 at 10:40 am

for oriental rugs:
for vintage:
for replicas:

19 David March 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm

No matter if the house is 1000 SQ feet, it must have 3 bed rooms to make it usefull most families. I think the idea is great. I live in Denver and there are very expensive small lots in Highlands close to downt town area, DU and Wash Park. You could sell tons of this homes in Denver.

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