Can’t afford an interior designer? These 5 local businesses can help create your dream home

Courtesy of Cotswold Market

You’ve found your dream apartment in your favorite neighborhood.  You’ve committed to a whopping $1,000 or more to this perfect space — so now what? 

You aren’t destined to a future of ramen and inflatable furniture. Designing your dream apartment can be tricky on a limited budget, so we got some tips from South End-based interior designer Audrey Hood to help you curate your dream space in a way that won’t break the bank.  

Take the time to figure out the feel you want for your room

Before going shopping, take some time to think about how you want your space to look and feel.  

“When working with a client, I always ask them how they want their space to feel instead of how they want their space to look,” Hood said. “Some want it to feel cozy, others want it to feel sophisticated. This question is a great way to get a sense of someone’s style.”

Plan out your budget

Put aside some money in your bank account to have on hand at the time you stumble upon the perfect piece of art or furniture for your home.  Someone else may have his or her eyes on the same one-of-a-kind item you do, so you want to have cash on hand to buy it before it’s gone. 

Take your time and have fun

“If you want something that feels unique, you can’t rush the process,” Hood said. 

“It’s not like you’re going to be able to walk into a store and buy a room,” she said, “If you want to really create a space that feels authentic to you, patience is key.” 

“Invest the time to shop around and check out a variety of consignment, vintage and resale stores for unique and fun pieces for your home. Inventory in these types of shops turns over fairly quickly, so you may need to check back a few times to look around and really see what speaks to you and what feels good,”  Hood said. 

Ready to redesign your apartment? Here are some places to start looking for locally sourced steals:

(1) Cotswold Marketplace

200 N. Sharon Amity Rd.

Courtesy of Cotswold Market
Tribal necklace on stand and raffan tray

Wander through 80,000-square-feet of home furnishings, antiques and decor from over 60 designers, vendors and artists to peruse at Cotswold Marketplace. Some items can be pricey, but you can find bargains by looking out for sales and the yearly Big Tent Sale in May. 

Courtesy of Cotswold Market
Vintage oushak rugs
  • Vintage oushak rugs – $140-$160
  • Tribal necklace on stand – $185; Raffan tray – $60
  • Pair of Vanguard McKinney side tables – $1,799 (originally $6,100)

(2) Green with Envy

1111 Central Ave., Suite 200

Courtesy of Green with Envy
Ella b candles, CLT wine glasses, marble coasters and David French art

This 4,000-square-foot boutique is full of Charlotte-sourced art, home decor and accessories to help you personalize your home.

  • Ella b candles – $26.95; CLT wine glasses – $14.95; Marble coasters – $9.95 each; David French art – $75

(3) Habitat ReStore

1133 N. Wendover Rd.; 3326 Wilkinson Blvd.; 8104 University City Blvd.; 11812 Carolina Place Pkwy. 

Courtesy of Habitat ReStore
Armen art furniture tufted black velvet sofa with crystal buttons, and a modern chrome and white sofa table

Hood suggested checking out thrift stores such as the Habitat ReStore. These stores offer a selection of gently used furniture, home decor and building materials at low prices. 

When shopping at thrift or consignment stores, be open to putting in a little elbow grease to create a one-of-a-kind piece. By taking a few hours to refinish or repaint some furniture, you can save hundreds of dollars and create a piece unique to you. 

Courtesy of Habitat ReStore
Distressed display cabinet with glass door and sidelights

“A lot of the wooden furniture in good shape and is super reasonable if you are handy at all and watch some YouTube videos,” she said.  

  • Modern chrome and white sofa table – $30
  • Distressed display cabinet with glass door and sidelights (professionally refinished by ReNew) – $750
  • Armen art furniture tufted black velvet sofa with crystal buttons – $595 (compared to $1,130 new)
  • Traditional upholstered chair – $35; Traditional wood desk – $125
Courtesy of Habitat ReStore
Traditional upholstered chair and traditional desk

(4) Sleepy Poet Antique Mall

4450 South Blvd.; 111 W. Main Ave., Gastonia

Courtesy of Sleepy Poet Antiques
A Hires root beer table

Sleepy Poet has two locations for you to explore and hunt for antique treasures. Take some time to rummage through its selection of furniture, home decor, vinyl and even vintage clothing. Hood recommended stopping by regularly because the store‘s inventory turns over frequently, meaning items can go quickly. 

  • Hires root beer barrel upcycled table – $85
  • Mirrored bar cart – $145
  • Nesting tables – $35 
Courtesy of Sleepy Poet
Mirrored bar cart

(5) South End Exchange

111 New Bern St.

Courtesy of South End Exchange
Sunburst mirror and four-drawer lacquered chest

South End Exchange is a high-end consignment store with a rotating inventory of antiques, furniture and home decor. South End Exchange is a great spot to find one-of-a-kind vintage furniture at low prices, Hood said.

  • Starburst mirror – $95; Four-drawer lacquered chest – $295
  • Vanguard chest of drawers – $325; Round mirror – $175
Courtesy of SouthEnd Exchange
Vanguard chest of drawers and round mirror


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