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The Daily Dish Dirty John

Dirty John's Debra Newell on How to Reinvent a Room (and Stay on Budget)

The interior designer who inspired Bravo's Dirty John explains why it's so important to get the basics right. 

By Patricia Cunningham

A successful design pro, Debra Newell knows a thing or two about turning around a room while staying on budget. The real-life inspiration behind Bravo's Dirty John recently chatted with Home & Design and shared some of her best-kept design secrets. Top among them: why it’s so important to lay a good foundation for a room. 

“I always believe that you start with a palette, whether it be a warm palette or a cool palette, in other words beiges or grays, and you buy the essentials. You buy the sofas, the cocktail tables, anything,” she advised.

Once you have those basics down, you can begin to accent with color and character and bring the look up, she explained. “Where you can make it look a little bit more expensive or add color is in the pillows, the accessories, the art.”

Now, here's the best part: Since we tend to transition through trends quickly, reinventing the space is made that much easier by merely swapping out accents every few years, according to Newell.

“When you get tired of it, you can change it out and put another color scheme in there. So you start with the basics,” she said. “For a while, I had all-white sofas in my home. I know with kids that’s crazy… I would get tired of a look pretty quickly, like within two years, so what I would do is I would just trade out the pillows and new accessories and it would look like a whole new look.”

Check out more of her design tips, and then watch Dirty John on Sundays at 10/9c.

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