A California Home Full of Big Bargains and Big Style

Featured in Prefit Magazine, this California home’s chic decor was built on smart buys.


Photo By: Dane Tashima

Photo By: Dane Tashima

Photo By: Dane Tashima

Photo By: Dane Tashima

Photo By: Dane Tashima

Photo By: Dane Tashima

Photo By: Dane Tashima

Photo By: Dane Tashima

Photo By: Dane Tashima

Photo By: Dane Tashima

Dining Room

Way before she was an interior designer, Isadora Gullov-Singh constantly found creative ways to decorate on a dime. “When I lived in my first apartment, in New York City, flea markets and thrift shops were how I afforded furniture,” she says. Her habit of hunting for old treasures literally led Isadora and her husband, Arnie, to their current mid-century home in Oakland, CA. “We were driving in the neighborhood when we spotted a sign for an estate sale, which we couldn’t resist,” she recalls. “But once we got inside, we were more enthralled with the house than the furniture!”

Although it needed a lot of work, it was a spacious 3,300 square feet — the first floor had been a dance studio — with great light. They snapped it up before it hit the market and embarked on an eight-month reno that opened the floor plan and updated the kitchen and bathrooms. Having spent most of their budget on construction, Isadora put her money-saving moves to work with DIY upholstery, secondhand finds and IKEA buys that offset a few choice high-end purchases. “Decorating is a balancing act,” she says. “Mi old pieces with new ones makes a house look and feel like a home.”

The Family

Arnie and Isadora with Jagger, 8, and Roman, 4

Living Room

Isadora kept her eye out for a few 1950s pieces, to give a nod to the decade when the home was built. She got the side table (for around $50) and coffee table secondhand. The yellow gourd lamp from Etsy was also an affordable find; ditto for the rug from Joss & Main (about $500). Their one splurge in this space was a sofa bed by American Leather. Says Isadora, “It doubles as a guest bed, so I wanted something really comfortable — no springs poking anyone.” But the drapes? Target! That yellow chair? IKEA! And the baby grand piano? Included in the price of the house!


The couple saved a bundle by ordering their white cabinets and quartz countertops from IKEA during a kitchen sale. “They’re good quality — I’ve used them in clients’ kitchens, too,” says Isadora. She elevated the room with a worth-the-money white-and-gray marble tile backsplash from a local tile supplier, Casa Viva, and a sleek Axor faucet. See-through glass pendants from Shades of Light hang over the island. The rug is from HomeGoods.

Living Room

For this area in the room, Isadora scooped up the 1950s sideboard (for all of $100) and the brass artichoke pendant at an estate sale. “I’ve yet to see another light like this — it’s a great conversation piece,” she says. The center cabinets have drawers that hold silverware for special occasions. The art above it may seem like it’s from a gallery, but it’s actually a limited-edition piece from Crate & Barrel.

Game Corner

Stylish chrome chairs can cost a small fortune — unless you find four for $40 at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in L.A., as Isadora did about 15 years ago. “They were in sad shape, but I reupholstered the cracked vinyl, and I’ve re-covered them two more times since,” she says. This corner of the family room was a dead zone until the floor-to-ceiling bookcases gave it purpose and personality. Isadora spotted them in a CB2 catalog and drove over to buy them the very next day. The rug is from Joss & Main.

Jagger's Bedroom

“I don’t like to spend too much on kids’ furniture, because they beat it up,” says Isadora. Jagger’s nightstand ($80) and desk were vintage deals. Paying tribute to Arnie’s English heritage, Isadora took inspiration from the Union Jack for the color scheme. The stop sign cost $10 at a salvage yard. For a headboard, she sewed remnant fabric around a lumbar pillow and attached it to the wall. She got the rug from Joss & Main, the red pendant from One Kings Lane, and the drapes at IKEA.

Roman's Bedroom

Isadora made Roman’s IKEA storage bed look custom by covering the drawer fronts with cork paper that she stained walnut. She spotted the headboard left out as trash in her neighborhood, just lying there full of potential, and reupholstered it with fabric she’d bought years ago on clearance at F&S Fabrics in L.A. She picked up the bird wall art on eBay and the wood nightstand for $5 (yes, $5) at an estate sale. The Greek key rug is from Zulily.

Master Bedroom

It only looks pricey! The couple had owned the Crate & Barrel bed for years before Isadora gave it new life by re-covering the headboard’s fabric panel with subtly striped velvet, to go with the room’s soothing gray walls (Cement Gray by Benjamin Moore). The complementary comforter and drapes are from Target, and the linen throw pillows are from Lacefield Designs. Popping inexpensive pencil drawings from an estate sale into identical wood frames makes them look fancy. Isadora scored the Moroccan brass pendant for free from a salvage company, where she had a credit for pieces she gave them.

Family Room

A comfy slipcovered IKEA sectional fits the whole family when they watch movies on the big TV on the opposite wall. For the gallery wall display, Isadora arranged a mix of family photos, secondhand artwork and her kids’ creations. The coffee table is actually an outdoor resin piece from Z Gallerie. “As long as you like the style,” she says, “it doesn’t matter if furniture is meant for outside.” The rug is from Pottery Barn, and the pendant is from Ballard Designs.

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