5 Interior Design Ideas for Inexpensive Art
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5 Interior Design Ideas for Inexpensive Art

From wall rugs to framed memories, interior designers share their low-cost alternatives.

By Elizabeth Anne Hartman
Thu, Sep 2, 2021 11:05amGrey Clock 3 min

TURNS OUT you can improve the way you feel by lazily staring at nicely decorated walls. “Incorporating art and colour into your home design will have a positive impact on your mood and overall health,” said Jessica Shaw of New York’s Turett Collaborative architecture and design firm, citing studies from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. And the nerve-calming wall installation doesn’t have to be a 19th-century Arcadian masterpiece. It can be baskets, even an array of hats. “It’s authenticity that counts,” Ms. Shaw said. “What is that thing for you? What gives you a hit of dopamine or serotonin? If a collection of old Levi’s is a genuine reflection of you, go ahead and frame them.” Other substitutes for pricey artwork: a group of trip mementos, a public-domain photograph that reflects your obsession with katydids. Here, design pros offer their favourite low-cost alternatives to an Alice Neel original.

Frame a Freebie Photo

Put your tax dollars to work for your décor. You can get copyright-free or public-domain images from the wide-ranging collections of public and federally funded institutions such as the Library of Congress and NASA. For an amateur photographer’s Brooklyn townhouse, local designer Lauren Stern printed and framed this shot of the far side of the moon taken by Arizona State University’s telescope. “Really large and graphic pieces can be hard to find, but photographs can be enlarged to any size.” High resolution is a must, she warned. Find university image collections through the institution’s home page.

Don’t Let Carpets Lie Like Rugs

Scrolling through Etsy, Austin designer Sarah Stacey spotted this large, colourful Boucherouite rug for $400 that perfectly fit the upbeat atmosphere of a small home about to welcome a baby. The plush Moroccan rag rug played well with the punchy pinks and blues of the living room furniture. From geometric Mexican carpets to English needlepoint rugs, you can find a style to suit pretty much any room. Against a large-patterned wallpaper, try a small-patterned rug that will complement rather than compete. For a less-casual room, select a tighter weave. (For inexpensive Moroccan rugs, try the clearance tab on benisouk.com)

Bundle Baskets

“Multidimensional installations are a great way to customize a space,” said Andrea DeRosa, co-founder of Avenue Interior Design in Los Angeles. Try black and beige baskets against a beige wall, said Genna Margolis, owner of L.A.’s Shapeside design studio. “The black really pops.” Or “go with the overall aesthetic,” advised fellow Angeleno Christine Markatos Lowe. In a tropical home, she hung these finely woven Indonesian versions over an equally elegant and organic rattan bench. Ten Thousand Villages sells baskets handmade in developing countries.

Tack Up a Table Runner

Textiles on a wall not only stand in well for expensive art, they add coziness, noted Kathleen Rubin, owner of interior design studio Room Is Blue, in Austin, Texas. Recently she discovered these table runners designed by Tabria Willford, founder of local textile company Tawa Threads, and block-printed by hand by a family in India. “Tabria’s runners, with their bold patterns and colours, can make a big impact if you hang several of them—framed or unframed.” (approx. $80 each, tawathreads.com) Like rugs, table runners can be found in myriad styles, from antique Aubusson tapestries to geometric linen patchworks. For unusual finds, Ms. Rubin recommends trolling online artisanal retailers.

Repurpose a Memento

“Art that engages is the best kind of art,” said Los Angeles designer Amy Sklar. After stumbling upon a journal her husband had diligently kept at age 10, she singled out a particularly charming page, then had it enlarged, professionally photographed and framed—and gave it to him as an anniversary gift (shown). “My kids think it’s hysterical, and it’s become a conversation piece,” she said. And you needn’t only draw from your own history. In Philadelphia, Melinda Kelson O’Connor framed the original blueprints of a 1910s home. “If you don’t have blueprints from your own home, you can choose a vintage set to hang, selecting from a housing type or historic time period that interests you,” she said. For example, a high-resolution image of Gustave Eiffel’s plans for the iconic Paris tower, published in 1900, can be licensed from Getty Images for approx. $677.



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Hong Kong Takes Drastic Action to Avert Property Slump

The city’s real-estate market has been hurt by high interest rates and mainland China’s economic slowdown

By ELAINE YU
Fri, Mar 1, 2024 3 min

Hong Kong has taken a bold step to ease a real-estate slump, scrapping a series of property taxes in an effort to turn around a market that is often seen as a proxy for the city’s beleaguered economy.

The government has removed longstanding property taxes that were imposed on nonpermanent residents, those buying a second home, or people reselling a property within two years after buying, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in his annual budget speech on Wednesday.

The move is an attempt to revive a property market that is still one of the most expensive in the world, but that has been badly shaken by social unrest, the fallout of the government’s strict approach to containing Covid-19 and the slowdown of China’s economy . Hong Kong’s high interest rates, which track U.S. rates due to its currency peg,  have increased the pressure .

The decision to ease the tax burden could encourage more buying from people in mainland China, who have been a driving force in Hong Kong’s property market for years. Chinese tycoons, squeezed by problems at home, have  in some cases become forced sellers  of Hong Kong real estate—dealing major damage to the luxury segment.

Hong Kong’s super luxury homes  have lost more than a quarter of their value  since the middle of 2022.

The additional taxes were introduced in a series of announcements starting in 2010, when the government was focused on cooling down soaring home prices that had made Hong Kong one of the world’s least affordable property markets. They are all in the form of stamp duty, a tax imposed on property sales.

“The relevant measures are no longer necessary amidst the current economic and market conditions,” Chan said.

The tax cuts will lead to more buying and support prices in the coming months, said Eddie Kwok, senior director of valuation and advisory services at CBRE Hong Kong, a property consultant. But in the longer term, the market will remain sensitive to the level of interest rates and developers may still need to lower their prices to attract demand thanks to a stockpile of new homes, he said.

Hong Kong’s authorities had already relaxed rules last year to help revive the market, allowing home buyers to pay less upfront when buying certain properties, and cutting by half the taxes for those buying a second property and for home purchases by foreigners. By the end of 2023, the price index for private homes reached a seven-year low, according to Hong Kong’s Rating and Valuation Department.

The city’s monetary authority relaxed mortgage rules further on Wednesday, allowing potential buyers to borrow more for homes valued at around $4 million.

The shares of Hong Kong’s property developers jumped after the announcement, defying a selloff in the wider market. New World Development , Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henderson Land Development were higher in afternoon trading, clawing back some of their losses from a slide in their stock prices this year.

The city’s budget deficit will widen to about $13 billion in the coming fiscal year, which starts on April 1. That is larger than expected, Chan said. Revenues from land sales and leases, an important source of government income, will fall to about $2.5 billion, about $8.4 billion lower than the original estimate and far lower than the previous year, according to Chan.

The sweeping property measures are part of broader plans by Hong Kong’s government to prop up the city amid competition from Singapore and elsewhere. Stringent pandemic controls and anxieties about Beijing’s political crackdown led to  an exodus of local residents and foreigners  from the Asian financial centre.

But tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have arrived in the past year, the result of Hong Kong  rolling out new visa rules aimed at luring talent in 2022.

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