Love where you live

With a housing market encouraging people to stay put, interior designer Nina Patterson ’15 offers budget-friendly style tips for your space.


The steady high of interest rates, home prices, and cost of living over recent years has many Americans thinking twice about springing for a new home: According to the U.S. Census, the total number of people in the U.S. who moved in 2023 dropped 9% from 2022.

“Everyone strives for that perfect dream home, but if that’s not feasible for the near term, then it’s truly important to love where you currently live,” says Nina Patterson ’15, co-founder and design principal of Two 7 Interiors. “You spend about 30% of your life sleeping in your bedroom, and at least another 20% just living in your home—so how you feel in that space has a huge impact on your overall emotional well-being.”

And as a bicoastal interior designer whose projects have ranged from a 15,000-square-foot new-build Malibu compound to an NYC pied-à-terre, Patterson has learned about environments people can feel good in—no costly renovations necessary. “Making small investments in your space can entirely change your mood when you walk through your front door,” says Patterson, who earned an associate’s degree in interior design at Parsons School of Design in New York and has worked for award-winning luxury firms like Marmol Radziner and Groves & Co. before starting her business. Here, she shares affordable home-styling tips to fall in love with where you are right now.

Old is new

Vintage sourcing—that is, scouring antique or thrift shops for secondhand furniture and decor—is a trick designers use for charming and cozy vibes on a budget. “You can find amazing quality pieces that have withstood the test of time, often at a less expensive price than stocked furniture,” Patterson says. She adds that “vintage sourcing creates a lived-in look that feels intentionally curated rather than straight out of a catalog or online resource,” and accessories like mirrors, art, or ceramics “can add personality to the space with unique textures, patterns, and color.”

Phase out all-white looks

Whether you’re haunted by ’80s-style kitchen cabinets or just want to give drab living room walls a pick-me-up, a fresh coat of paint is still the most cost-effective way to breathe new life into your home’s sore spots—and, Patterson says, consider mixing in some vibrant tones. “Color is going to be more encouraged to differentiate interior spaces in 2024,” Patterson says. “We’re moving away from all-white palettes and into more robust neutrals—think chocolate browns and rich maroons.” If you’re not ready to try out new hues, infuse more subtle pops of color throughout your abode with less commitment by accessorizing with low-cost items like pillows, throw blankets, lamps, or artwork.

Organize, and then organize some more

Get rid of any items out of which you don’t get much joy or use. “The more organized and clean your home is, the less anxiety and stress you will feel,” she says. When you’re spring cleaning, opt to donate or sell whatever decorative pieces you can.

Revisit the lighting

Brightening up a room with lighting—natural or otherwise—can immediately elevate your spirits and style. “Hardwiring new lights into your house can be expensive, but there are alternatives like plug-in sconces or remote-controlled LED light bulbs that give the same visual impact at a fraction of the cost,” Patterson says. Don’t forget about window treatments: “Without them, your home can feel quite stark,” she explains. “Including something like a sheer Roman shade can offer light diffusion, privacy, and an added layer of warmth.”

Make yourself at home

“Your home is a reflection of you—the more satisfied you are with how it shows off your personality, the happier you’ll be in it,” Patterson says. Let the character traits you’re most proud of shine through in your decor by being “thoughtful and intentional about the things that bring you happiness, and how you can add purpose to them.” For example, if you’re an avid skier, Patterson suggests displaying your ski passes in a tasteful matted frame. “It’s all about defining what you want your story to look like—and how you want people to experience it when they walk into your home.”

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