Interior Design Lessons From the Frugal House

frugal houseIn today's economy, saving a buck has never been more wise or more socially-accepted. A group of interior design students in California are now hoping this frugal trend will also help them raise money for charity.

The second annual "Frugal House" in Chico was on display over the weekend. Chico State and Butte College interior design students recycled and refurbished a mid-century, three-bedroom home entirely with yard sale and thrift store items. Last year, the students decorated a new home that was a clean palette -- so this year required quit a bit of prep and painting.

Visitors can peruse the students' creative and frugal magic, such as a chandelier made of Styrofoam cups or a headboard made of wood plate chargers. While there was a less-than-frugal cost of admission ($15), the proceeds benefit the local symphony and a few area non-profits.

Interior designer and Butte College instructor Deverie Jarrett organized the event as a fundraiser for the symphony that would capture the imagination of the community. Jarrett's students scoured Salvation Army stores and yard sales for enough items to repurpose entire rooms. Groups of eight students were each responsible for a room. The project was also an exercise in budgeting as each team had a $300 to spend, donated by local businesses.

"It's amazing what they've done. It's a mini dream-house, but done frugally," Jarrett, 47, says. The students hope to raise $25,000 this year.

For some do-it-yourself ideas ripped from the students' playbook, Jarrett suggests:

1. Sew old draperies together to reupholster furniture
2. Arrange wooden chargers together to create a wall décor or headboard
3. Use old closet rods to make legs for beds, chairs or other furniture
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