1st Lake Blog

Local Designer Talks DIY and the Best Decor Stores

We recently spoke with local interior designer Whitney Jones about how to create a space – even when you’re renting! – that truly feels like home. Jones believes that a beautiful apartment isn’t just attainable; it’s also affordable. How? Three simple letters: D I Y. Check out our conversation with Jones below.

1LP: Your blog features a lot of DIY projects, and it seems like something you’re very passionate about. Why is it so important?

WJ: In my apartment, I actually pretty much did everything custom, which really can be code for DIY. You don’t want to go into your friend’s house or post a picture online and have someone say, “I have that! And I have that!”

If you try to do custom, you always have a unique space that will get you compliments. When you love décor and love for your home to look good, it feels good for someone to feel welcomed into a really nice space.

1LP: Can you recommend some examples of DIY projects?

WJ: Of course! I have some chairs I purchased at Target for $26 on clearance. They’re metal chairs with gray and teal upholstered fabric – they didn’t match, but I bought them anyway because I knew they had potential. I went to a fabric store and purchased some orange vinyl, and I upholstered both of them in the vinyl [using a staple gun]. They look like a totally custom chair for under $75.

Then, there are my curtains that I purchased from Pier 1. I bought two matching curtains and then a third in a contrasting color and fabric. Then, I used parts of the third curtain to add to the bottom of the matching pair to create a custom look. It also added length, which meant I could suspend them from higher on my ceiling – that’s a great trick to add a feeling of height to a space. I also make pillows and sell them on my website.

I also DIY’d a wood bench I purchased at a flea market. I painted the bench white and recovered with faux fur that I purchased at a fabric store. There are so many different options!

1LP: What, in your opinion, is the easiest kind of DIY?

WJ: Before you purchase or do anything else, I suggest going with pillows first. They shape your sofa, they can even reinvent your sofa, and they’re your source of inspiration for the rest of the room. If you decide to make DIY pillows, you have hundreds of different selections that inspire you that you can use to have as a jumpstart for the rest of the room. They’re really easy to make – just search for a tutorial whether you prefer to hand sew, use a sewing machine, or even use hot glue!

I also love DIY art because it’s easy and affordable. I have a DIY canvas board with some song lyrics that I painted – really simple.

1LP: What if someone is feeling stuck once they start decorating? Or maybe they’re too overwhelmed to even get started! What advice do you have?

WJ: ALWAYS PLAN before you do anything. Don’t start buying stuff without a plan. You have to pick something that’s your starting point. If you find something you love or just have to have, make it your jumping point so you can plan your room around it. If you choose art, choose a color out of your artwork that you can use in your pillows; another color can be your curtains; another color can inform your accessories.

My other best piece of advice is to start with the room where you spend the most time. People see pictures of my living room and they think I have it going on. And then you look to the right and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a disaster over there!’ My dining room functions as my office! I had so much energy to do my living room and then I wasn’t sure if I was ready to start on something else. For me, I started with the room that I spend the most time in; the room that means the most to me. If your bedroom is your sanctuary or if you want to feel more comfortable there, that’s where you should start. If you cook a lot, you should start in the kitchen. Because if you start somewhere where you don’t spend a lot of time, you’ll get burned out fast. You’ll have the energy and the spirit to start in other rooms if you begin a project in a room you enjoy being in the most. It’ll have a domino effect.

1LP: Where are some of your favorite places to find furniture and accessories in New Orleans?

WJ: My favorite place to shop in the city is Target. They’re really trendy – they’re on the mark on what’s hot in decor. I’m not a trendy decorator, per se, but I like to see what they have. If you’re not really good at decorating or don’t know what you like, Target allows you to do it on a budget. Pillows, linens, living chairs, lounge chairs, and all for good quality and price.

Nadeau has really good price points and unique items, so I’d definitely say Nadeau for furniture. TJ Maxx for accessories and Pier 1 for glamorous accessories – they’re pricier but they’re not outrageous, and you can have a really glamorous look for a lot less than you’d expect. 

1LP: What are some of your favorite websites for that same purpose?

WJ: Ballard Design – they’re not the most inexpensive but they have beautiful items. I really love Wayfair so there are hundreds of thousands of times so you could shop all day! Sometimes it’s way too much stuff to look through, but in a good way. I like Wayfair for the options. Home Decorators Collection – it’s actually Home Depot’s home line. They don’t tell people that, but it is! They have really good stuff for really great prices. 

Find Whitney on Instagram at @whitneyjdecor or visit to connect with this amazing local designer!