Photo: James Bombales

Genevieve Gorder has been gracing our television screens and schooling us in the art of approachable design since TLC’s Trading Spaces first premiered in 2000. Since then, she’s appeared on numerous programs including Dear Genevieve, Design Star, Genevieve’s Renovation and Stay Here.

Now she’s making her way to Bravo and the reality TV streaming platform, hayu, with the launch of Best Room Wins — a brand new design competition series judged by Gorder and Whitney Robinson, the Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decor. Each episode, two designers will go head-to-head, transforming ordinary rooms into lavish retreats with only four days and $25,000 to get it all done.

Photo: Nicole Weingart/Bravo

We spoke to Gorder about where to save and where to splurge when decorating on a budget and got the scoop on the star-studded panel of guest judges who will be appearing on Best Room Wins. Spoiler alert: Martyn Bullard, the Kardashians go-to interior designer, is “a true thunderbolt with his authoritativeness.” Keep scrolling for Gorder’s four lessons on creating luxury interiors for less and don’t forget to tune into Best Room Wins starting May 1st.

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1. The architecture doesn’t have to match the decorating style.

Photo: James Bombales, design by Karin Bennett

“The most common misconception about designing a luxurious living space is that people think that they need to have the exact same architecture as the style they’d like to see in their interiors,” says Gorder. Into mid-century modern? You don’t need to live in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home to pull off the look. “You can really create some incredible fusion with mismatched architecture and make it feel completely luxurious,” adds Gorder.

2. Creativity is key to luxe-looking design.

Photo: James Bombales, design by Kate + Co. Design Inc.

“Luxury does typically cost more than penny pinching, can-I-do-it-for-a-dime kind of style, but creativity is free,” says Gorder. As contestant and interior designer Jason Lai says in the trailer, “You have to have taste, you can’t buy it!” Using a can of paint to inject drama into a space or learning to edit with a critical eye are low- or no-cost ways to amp up the style factor. “What we’re showing on Best Room Wins are ways to create a luxurious home without having to use that enormously huge, luxurious budget,” says Gorder.

3. If you’re on a tight budget, splurge strategically.

Photo: James Bomables

“How you sleep and how you perform in life is really crucial to how you rest — so don’t skimp on beautiful linens for your bed,” says Gorder. “Even if they say it ‘feels’ like luxury but costs less, it’s never the same thing. That’s one place you can’t cheat!” She also advocates for spending money on the sofa because let’s face it, “that’s where we spend a lot of time throughout the day,” and splurging on natural stone in the kitchen. “Mother Nature is really the ultimate luxury! Yes, there are a lot of composites and synthetics that are simply incredible, but in the kitchen, which is the heart [of the home], I don’t want synthetic, I want all real and I want true luxe,” Gorder adds.

4. Score certain big-ticket items secondhand.

Photo: Roman Boed/Flickr

“What I score best that’s secondhand is typically the stuff that’s undervalued,” says Gorder. “Things like brass or silver — I get a lot of small pieces that are worth a lot more than $2, and I’ll generally score them for that [price].” Beyond hunting for treasure on Craigslist or the curb, Gorder is fond of the site PianoAdoption.com. “They’re literally free pianos!” explains Gorder. “They’re so big that people typically don’t want to pay the moving fee, so all you have to do is pay to have it delivered.” Even those of us who can’t plunk out so much as a “Happy Birthday” on the piano can still *adopt* the aesthetic. “It’s the same thing with books — you may not read all your books, but just having them in your home, and the atmosphere and personality that they create…you can’t really fake it!”

Viewers in the United States can catch the premier of Best Room Wins on Bravo Wednesday, May 1st at 10pm eastern/9pm central. Canadians can watch the series on hayu, an all-reality subscription video-on-demand service, beginning May 2nd.

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