Waiting until you have a little more cash before you re-design your living room? Gina Hagen of The Well Dressed Home doesn’t think you need to wait.
Gina Hagen
The Well Dressed Home
1200 1st St.
Snohomish, WA 98290
(360) 568-9990

For 15 years, Gina Hagen, an interior decorator, worked strictly for clients in their homes before she realized how much fun it was to run her own vintage shop. Over the last five years, she has moved The Well Dressed Home three times. With the help of her daughter, Annemarie Hagen, and friend, Rich King, the shop’s new home on 1st Street opened in Snohomish in May of this year. Unlike your typical antique store, here you might find pockets of doorknobs, Scrabble game letters, croquet balls or old postcards. Many of the items are antiques and have a high monetary value while others are cheap and are valuable only to the eye of the beholder. It is a fun and playful shop, just like its owner. Gina shares some tips on how to shop for décor on a budget. Here is what she had to say.

What is the cheapest thing you could do to make the biggest impact?

“Find an architectural fragment if you can,” says Hagen. “Even if it means finding a section of an old fence. Just think size, drama and something that fits your flavor. If you are into industrial, then try to find something that has a metal aspect to it. Architectural remnants and fragments can be found at salvage yards and places like that.” You might even find things on the side of the road!

Is there a big mistake that people tend to make?

“We don’t have as many rules as we used to did when it comes to design, which gives us more freedom, but it also makes it sometimes tougher for those who maybe don’t have the elements of design working for them. Things can look choppy. For those who are novices, I’d say to tell a color story.” This is where you pick just three colors and then buy things within that particular arena of three colors. She suggests focusing on the colors that you love and staying away from themes. “We don’t necessarily do themes like we used to but there can be an element of that like maybe a nautical or mariner idea or maybe even an organic theme. However, if you get too stuck [with a theme], then it reads ‘contrived’ and that is not good design.”

What about for men? How does a guy go about making his bachelor pad not look like a bachelor pad?

Some men want their home to have a “woman’s touch” but most don’t have a clue what that actually looks like, but Hagen does. “I would probably say that the missing link would be texture. It would be any upholstered pieces, maybe pillows or a live element. Things like that. I think those are the things that nurture a home and women tend to think more along those lines of making it homey and softening the nest.

How do you know if you have an eclectic taste or if you just have a lot of junk?

“I would say to edit. It’s a hard process. Eclecticism should be fewer things that are all beautiful in their own right blended together, not gobs of stuff,” says Hagen. “A good rule of thumb is if you bring something new in, then something old has to go.” She also suggests “editing up.” “When you bring something new in, it has to be a step above what you already have.”

Where should one go for design inspiration?

Besides Hagen’s shop, Gina recommends visiting larger furniture stores (because they have professional designers creating the vignettes), model homes (because their designers follow the trends and that is where you are going to find the best colors that will last 10 years) and other vintage shops.

Do you have any favorite tips?

  • Decorate with the things that you absolutely love.
  • Don’t try to be something that you’re not. Don’t decorate with items that are “not you.”
  • Good taste doesn’t need to be expensive. Don’t overpay for stuff, because there are so many cheaper options out there.
  • Look for one-of-a-kind and unique items to decorate with.
  • Find treasures at vintage stores, salvage yards, antique malls, thrift stores and discount department stores like Ross, Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. Hagen recommends Earthwise Architectural Salvage (located in Seattle and Tacoma), The RE Store (located in Seattle and Bellingham) and Second Use in Seattle.
Jeffrey Totey is a freelance writer living in Seattle. He has a love for the arts and is a student of pop culture. He covers stories about the performing arts, theater, museums, cultural events, movies and more in the greater Seattle area. His work can be found at Examiner.com.