By Christina Manduley, CNN
(CNN) — With warm weather under way, there’s no better time to update your living quarters. But how do you turn your home into a space that reflects your personality?
Interior design expert Erin Gates, founder and editor of popular lifestyle blog “Elements of Style,” recommends looking in your wardrobe closet for inspiration. Whether she’s decorating a sailboat in San Francisco or a studio apartment in Boston, Gates looks for parallels between fashion and popular interiors. “The trends translate between the two seamlessly,” Gates says.
Overcoming the builder-grade countertops, mass-manufactured lighting, and drab white walls can seem like a challenge, especially if you’re on a budget. Where do you start?
1. Shop vintage or rummage through your parents’ or grandparents’ furniture. With a fresh coat of paint or new upholstery, something you grew up with could fit beautifully into your space and tell a story.
2. Just as fashion is ever-changing, you can keep your home in pace with trends, but be sparing about it. Keep the investment pieces simple — sofas, beds and dining tables — and swap out accessories like throw pillows, rugs and lamps to reflect the current trends. Keep your space looking timeless so you won’t tire of it in six months. It’s much easier to toss a peplum top than a brass chair.
3. To help feel stimulated, make inspiration boards either virtually or from fashion and decor magazine clippings, she suggests. Are you seeing similar colors, patterns, and shapes? This should give you a good idea of what would make you happy in your space.
4. As far as your home goes, gray is still the hottest neutral color, use brass instead of chrome, large-scale photography, blush or light mint green as accent colors and add a potted ficus tree somewhere. Bringing live greenery inside adds so much life.
5. Buy the best you can afford once instead of spending poorly three times. We’ve all bought something cheap because we didn’t want to save up for what we really wanted, and then we end up buying it anyway when the first thing falls apart. You end up spending more than you would have if you just bought what you wanted in the first place.
Gates has a book of design inspirations coming out next fall.