We Gave a Professional Home Stager $100 — Here’s What She Bought at West Elm

published Oct 4, 2023
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Living room interior with white sofas
Credit: emmaduckworth/Getty Images

Sticking to a budget while you’re decorating a home isn’t exactly a simple task — especially at stores where the price tags can be hefty. But nobody knows how to pinch pennies better than a professional home stager, who’s used to prowling the aisles and scouring the end caps in pursuit of the most unique pieces to make a home feel distinctive. I turned to Minol Shamreen, founder and creative director of Studio M Designs, to see what she’d buy with $100 in her pocket at West Elm

“When we are working with a budget, the key to finding perfect pieces for staging is versatility,” says Shamreen, who advises people to keep their eyes out for diverse items that can be used in multiple spaces, complement a range of colors, and blend in seamlessly with various design styles. “These items won’t steal the spotlight individually, but when paired with other elements, they will help create beautiful vignettes and spaces,” she notes. Here’s a look at Shamreen’s picks, which came out at $100 on the dot.

2 Abstract Jacquard Pillow Covers

It’s not all about the perfect spot to catch an afternoon nap. (Although that is very important.) Pillows play a huge role in infusing character and style into a space. “This gorgeous pillow cover from West Elm boasts a versatile charm that effortlessly complements a spectrum of design aesthetics, from modern and transitional to traditional,” says Shamreen, leaning into her previous statement about versatility. 

“It not only holds its own very well within a monochromatic palette, but can also be easily paired with other colors and patterns in your space.” Shamreen notes that when it comes to pillows, she always buys in a set of two, especially for staging. But the size you choose also plays an important role: “I prefer to buy inserts that are one or two sizes bigger than the cover,” she adds. “So if you have a 20-inch cover, a 22-inch insert will give you a plusher and fuller look.” After all, nothing’s sadder than a saggy pillow.

Pretti.Cool 4-inch Catchall Decorative Bowl

Versatility is key once again with these handcrafted bowls, which can be styled as a catch-all for keys and headphones on your foyer table, a decorative object on a coffee table or bookshelf, or to hold your trinkets and jewelry on your nightstand, Shamreen says. “Their neutral palette lends them a universal appeal, allowing seamless pairings with a wide array of decor materials and accents,” she shares. “That makes them a flawless addition to your staging designs.” Shamreen also loves that the bowls are from a small Houston brand as part of West Elm Local, which partners with area artisans and businesses. 

If you’re looking to splurge on a pricier item at a store like West Elm, Shamreen advises to have it be one for the bedroom. “Bedrooms are typically one of the key rooms to stage for maximum impact,” she explains. “So if we were to splurge, investing in a high-quality duvet set would be my top choice.” Combine it with the previously mentioned throw pillows in a variety of colors and patterns to create the look you want.