Upon arrival in Palm Beach, Fla., and looking to expand my social circle, I used to host small cocktail and dinner parties. I had recently completed my Master of Architecture degree and quickly learned that survival and success in this town had a great deal to do with socializing. On any given night, preferably in the middle of the week, my postage-sized apartment looked like the party scene from "Breakfast at Tiffany's," Holly Golightly and all. My guest list would always include a mix of some of my neighbors, a friend or two, co-workers and even someone I had met that same day on Worth Avenue or at the grocery store. The booze always flowed; abundant fresh flowers vases or potted orchids, mounds of nuts in silver in Paul Revere silver bowls, and a good selection of my favorite Brazilian bossa nova were part of the recipe.
Inevitably, the next day at work, my co-workers and sometimes even my boss, would ask me how I was so "established" in Palm Beach. They could not believe my small apartment that overlooked the historic Breakers Hotel was so well appointed and had such "class" (their words, not mine). It was there in then that I came up with my design mantra: Fake it till you make it. What is interior design if not stage sets? This is true even in large estates, where there are large budgets and important antiques. However, the best interiors are a mix of high and low, assembled with a discerning eye. No matter your style of decor, you can decorate to achieve a monied or rich look without breaking the bank.
Emulation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so they say. In design, this proves true. Copy the way "the haves" decorate. The best way to educate your design sense is to avail yourself of as many magazines and design books as possible. Select a design of your choice and try to reproduce it as best as you can. Training your eye is part of the game when buying furniture. Depending on your budget, you may find a reproduction of a certain piece you like and later on in life replace it with the real one, once your pocketbook allows.
Flea markets and yard sales are invaluable when decorating on a tight budget. Often you will find a very nice item with a small scratch or dent that can easily be repaired or great pieces that an owner simply has grown tired of or no longer fits their d?cor style. Auctions are another great way to buy quality goods on a budget.
Find an area or item of interest and then buy several version of said item. Rich folks tend to have collections of things and often like to show off. Think about how you will display the items — on a wall, in a display case or on a tabletop. Also, displaying things collected while travelling is a way to politely show off and is surely to be a conversation starter at any gathering.
Visit as many historic homes, model homes, museums and decorator show houses as you can. These will help you keep current and informed on decorating trends and techniques.
Think rich and act it. Finally, never, ever make apologies for shortcomings. The only one that notices is you.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.