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‘Million Dollar Decorators’ shop Kmart, Marshalls

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Kathryn Ireland is known for her California casual approach to classic French and English country house decor, and fans of “Million Dollar Decorators” find her excitable demeanor and eccentric proclamations endearing. Strolling the aisles at Marshalls, Ireland suggests looking at whatever catches your eye, even if it turns out to be hideous. “I always say you’ve got to have some bad taste in house,” she says. “I am serious. Because if everything is perfect, the thing that is not takes on its own life. You might buy something on a trip or get something from your grandmother that is not good taste and you should flaunt it.”

Here, with a basket already filled with Le Creuset cookware in a vivid orange-red and a collection of yellow glass bottles, Ireland scans the pillow shelves. (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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Score! “This $16.85 crewel pillow is utter heaven,” says Kathryn Ireland, who has her own line of textiles. “With the holidays coming it’s the perfect way to spruce up your couch, but you can use it all year round with other solid and patterned pillows. The shape would be really good for a banquette or window seat.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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“This brand is actually called French Country, which is my look,” says Ireland, comparing two sizes of rustic metal crates with burlap linings. “I might re-line this in some of my delicious fabric, but there’s nothing wrong with the way it is, especially for $9.99.” The best bargains are multi-functional pieces, and her list of possible uses for this item is exhaustive. It could be used to store utensils or produce in the kitchen or on the table to serve bread.

“I can see using it in a country style bathroom for hand towels or hairbrushes, and it’s also very good for office storage. They are so good looking you can keep them on open shelves or even use them as in and out boxes.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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“Picture frames can be ridiculously expensive,” Kathryn Ireland says. “But look at these, $6.99 to $12.99. And the large gray one is probably resin but looks like hand-carved wood and has that Axel Vervoordt Belgian look that’s so popular now.” Her strategy for framing is juxtaposition: Put intricate, colorful artwork in plain frames, and use simple photographs in more ornate ones. “Nothing makes a kid’s drawing or black and white snapshot look as good as a gilt frame,” she says.

When arranging them, Ireland goes for what she calls “a mishmash — various sizes, various finishes, and mix the inexpensive frames in with your nicer ones.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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Kathryn Ireland stares in disbelief at a lamp with a base that looks like a turned wood baluster. "$24.99?” she says. “Is that with the shade? Seriously? I am used to spending twice as much just for a shade.” The timeless country house shape, she says, would fit in a variety of interiors -- Craftsman bungalows or Spanish homes. It also could provide a counterpoint to a modern metal table. “This is a great living room lamp,” she adds. “But if you like matching lamps by the bed, buy a pair.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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Thinking outside the box helps you make the most of your savings, Kathryn Ireland says. She suggests using pre-made curtain panels to close off open doorways or conceal closets without doors. Here, she checks out the area rug shelves, looking for one that can be used in a variety of places. (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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The A.M. Home Signature Style rag rug was $9.99, marked down to $7.50. “It’s reversible,” Ireland says. “And made in India with such beautiful colors. It’s beautiful and elegant enough to be by the side of your bed, but also heavy duty enough to use in a laundry room, by the stove or kitchen sink. It could even be used outside the shower as a bath mat.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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When setting the table, Ireland practices a more-is-merrier philosophy. “With the holidays coming, you want to have a little bit of ‘zush,’” says the author of “Kathryn M. Ireland: Timeless Interiors.” “I’m not a uniformity person. So go ahead and add in some pretty dishes and bowls like these, which are $9.99 each, that you can use for guacamole and chips. You can mix and match it with the china you already have.”

An Ireland tip for high-impact floral arrangements: “Instead of buying a dozen roses and putting them in one vase, I take a single stem and put them in a collection of bud vases or bottles, anything with a small neck works. Then you can spread them throughout the house or group them together on a table as a centerpiece.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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Kathryn Ireland says she could easily re-sell this $119.99 French Provincial style bench for three times as much in her West Hollywood showroom. “It’s nicely distressed with a beautiful patina and fat cord for the seat. I don’t think I would have to do anything to it.” Shopping at Marshalls, she says, tongue firmly in cheek, “makes me realize that I am overpriced and overrated.” The bench could serve many purposes, she adds. “I would use this in an entryway or at the foot of a bed as a place to put your shoes on, and then, if guests came over, move it to the dining table for extra seating. It’s really versatile.”  (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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In Marshalls, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard chooses bath towels he likes. The author of “Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: Live, Love & Decorate” finds a group of patterned towels that reflects his love of geometric ethnic designs. “They’re an instant way to make a bathroom look more up to date,” he says. “And the neutral colors make them adaptable for rooms in a variety of color schemes.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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“This is an iconic pattern like you might see in Morocco or in an Indian jali screen,” Martin Lawrence-Bullard says, as he pairs bath towels at Marshalls. “Some of the most expensive interior design houses are using this print, and it’s amazing to find it here for $5.99 and $7.99. What’s really nice is that you can use both sides. It’s reversible. You can have the dark bath towel with the lighter one highlighting it giving you layering and texture. They’d be great in a guest bathroom, but they could also bring a dull bathroom to life. If you have a dark bathroom, paint it all white, do a pale gray glossy ceiling and bring home a pile of these towels, and you’ve got a million dollar bathroom.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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Martyn Lawrence-Bullard examines mercury glass pieces priced under $20 at Marshalls. “Mercury glass was invented in the late 19th century, originally by the Spanish colonists in Mexico,” he says. “They couldn’t afford real silver for the table, so they poured mercury into glass, and it gave the illusion of the table set with sterling silver. It’s a wonderful decorative element, and a pair of these on a dining table, either filled with candles or tightly packed with red roses, add instant glamor at the extremely unglamorous price of $9.99. They are a steal, but you don’t need to steal them they’re so affordable.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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“This looks like a beautiful antique perfume bottle,” says Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, who actually purchased it for his own home. “You could use it as part of a grouping or on its own. With a single orchid hanging out of it, you’ve got an incredible piece. I would expect to see this for $150, and it’s $12.99.” (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
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Martyn Lawrence-Bullard inspects a Nido stool, priced at $39.99. “This is an incredibly versatile piece,” says the designer, who produces furniture under his own name. “It’s got a classic modern drum shape and it gives you instant texture in any room. It can also be used as a side table.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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Martyn Lawrence-Bullard adds quilted satin Newport pillows, $19.99 for a pair, as cushions for the top of the Nido stools. “It’s a very sophisticated pattern,” says the designer, who has his own textile collection and a line for Schumacher. “I would never in a million years think these were $19.99 for a pair. And this color would work beautifully against patterns and prints or neutral colors. I could see them as accent pillows on a natural color linen covered sofa.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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“This is an original Ralph Lauren design that he had in his crystal collection,” Martyn Lawrence-Bullard says of these glasses. The crystal versions were probably $100 each, he says. These pieces, $7.99 each, are German-made, 24% lead crystal glass. They add a burst of red that’s perfect for the holidays. “I love to add colored glass to a table. It’s a perfect pop,” Lawrence-Bullard says. “And you could easily use them as vases for flowers.”  (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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Martyn Lawrence-Bullard was staggered to find new editions of the classic Willow pattern by Johnson Bros., a fine English china manufacturer. “The pattern became popular in the 1880s, and antique Willow plates can be $3,000 apiece. Here they’re an unbelievable $3.99.” The blue and white pattern has long been a part of traditional decorating, but Lawrence-Bullard says it needn’t be limited to classic dining rooms. “In the most modern home, you can throw these plates in for a bit of fun,” he says. “I can imagine them on a white lacquer dining table just as easily as on an antique mahogany table.” (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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Bullard sits at a table setting he created from goods found at Marshalls, including Willow pattern plates by Johnson Brothers, $3.99 each, red crystal glasses from Ralph Lauren, $7.99 each, and mercury glass decorative objects. For seating: satin pillows, two for $19.99, set on woven stools, $39.99 each. (Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)
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Jeffrey Alan Marks has done homes for actors Amber Valletta, Gillian Anderson and Paul Reiser, and he recently teamed with the California furniture manufacturer Palecek to produce collections that will soon be available in stores. Here, he admires Essential Home acrylic waste baskets, $8.99 at K-mart. “Alexandra Von Furstenberg does this beautiful, incredibly expensive Lucite stuff, and these might have to go on my Pinterest as the chicest thing of the day,” Marks says. “You could use them in an office or powder room. Or you could fill them with hydrangeas or a bunch of branches as a centerpiece for an outdoor party and then use them as a trash can to clear the table.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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In a sea of lamps and shades, Jeffrey Alan Marks chooses a simple metal lamp, $19.99, with a thin stem and a turquoise shade. “The color is contemporary and beachy,” says the designer, who did the interiors of the restaurant Tavern in Brentwood and The Hungry Cat in Malibu. “I would get at least two, but maybe more. I could see them massed on the top of a long console in a hallway or across the top of a bar, like we did at the Hungry Cat with industrial lamps.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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At $6.99 each, cotton towels are another Jeffrey Alan Marks pick at Kmart. They could be used for a guest room during the holidays, or rolled up and stuffed in a bag for use at the pool or on the beach. “People always look good in this color,” he says. “I would save your punchy prints for higher-end stores and stick with solids. If they’re mixed in with the right thing, they look great. And if they were my bath towels I might take them to the monogram shop to personalize them.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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The Spunky Monkey Lotion Pump by Essential Home, marked down to $11.69, would be a cute addition to a kid’s bathroom, Jeffrey Alan Marks says. It is part of a collection that includes bath accessories and a shower curtain in blues and browns. “I think mixing those colors still works,” the Santa Monica-based designed says. “No one is afraid of that color combination. At these prices, you can afford to choose a theme and a color story that works.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Among Jaclyn Smith’s product lines for Kmart: photo frames, including this smoked cognac model for $8.49. “I would mix these frames in a gallery with other artwork,” Jeffrey Alan Marks says. “The trick is to do five or six of the same frame mixed in with fancier and more expensive frames to create consistency.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Jeffrey Alan Marks also loves Jaclyn Smith frames with multiple openings for family photos. “I would fill these with pictures of my boyfriend, Ross, and Jaclyn is already in one of the windows, so I would just leave her. How can you not love her face? She’s almost 70 — like, sign me up for whatever wrinkle cream she’s using.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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For holiday hand towels, Jeffrey Alan Marks opts for white and silver. “This is nice because it’s non-denominational and can be used all winter,” he says of these towels, $12.99 for a pack of three. “And feel how soft this finish is.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Jeffrey Alan Marks likes the clean shape and white lines of this outdoor decoration. “Pre-lit Christmas trees are a great idea instead of live trees. And at $39.99, you could put them on both sides of the front door,” he says. “Or you could use it inside as a way to display Christmas cards. You could hang the vertical ones and open horizontal cards and drape them over the branch.” His one drawback: “I don’t like to assemble things. I wonder if they’ll sell me the floor model?” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Marks admires his Kmart haul, which includes a stainless steel toaster by Proctor Silex for $24.99. “It looks very modern and streamlined with that 1930s ocean liner look,” he says. “I guess I am going to have to find gluten-free bagels to use it.”

His tips for successful shopping: “If you like something, maybe get more than one, look for things that are multipurpose and can hold their own with antiques, vintage and flea market finds. It’s all about the mix.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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“Hate that. Love that. This is cute. This is only half cute. Yes. No. Yes. Yes. No.” This stream-of-consciousness narrative is the soundtrack to Million Dollar Decorator Mary McDonald roaming the aisles of Kmart. The Brentwood native is celebrated for rooms that marry Old Hollywood glamour, Old World classicism and a modern take on color, pattern and ethnic accents from around the world.

An adventurous shopper, she checks out the automotive department, looking for industrial pieces that might have a more decorative purpose, and wanders into the toy aisle, where she discovers Globemaster globes for $17.99. “They’re perfect for kids’ rooms,” she says of the blue and pink globes, “and I kind of want one for myself.” She also warms to $13.49 lava lamps. “I’m not a lava lamp person myself,” she says. “But for a kid’s room, it’s such a cute nightlight.”  (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Mary McDonald pauses among the outdoor rugs. “It’s not as big as I would like, maybe big enough to put between a sofa and two chairs,” she says of the 5-by-7-foot rug, $79.99. “I use herringbone seagrass rugs all the time and have to put a border on them, but this is all ready to go, and they have matching smaller mats which are cute.” Why does it work? “It’s simple,” McDonald says. “It has a nice, elegant herringbone pattern in neutral colors. It’s not trying to be anything formal.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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At Kmart, Mary McDonald offers a golden rule of decorating: Everything looks better in multiples, like these snow-capped pine cones, sold in boxes for $9.99. “I’d only use gold or silver,” she says. “If you start with red, you have to stick with it. And you need a lot for a wreath or a table. The key is not to make it look like you found three pine cones in your driveway and painted them. That just looks sad.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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“These look like East Coast Yankee Christmas sleigh bells,” McDonald says of the $5.99 jingle bell straps, which she playfully tries on as a belt. “I have to say, if you’re buying these kinds of things, think in pairs. They’d look really good on your front door.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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For guests and as gifts, monogrammed towel sets cannot be beat at $7.99, McDonald says. “People think it’s special and it looks like you actually went out and got something done.” McDonald also found a stack of Country Living pale pink and lavender towels that reminded her of the colors used by the French luxury bath linen firm D. Porthault. “They even have florals,” she says. “But only two left. People knew.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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When shopping for inexpensive goods, be careful of color, McDonald says. “Things that are cheap or look overly summery tend to be neon, not rich and saturated colors, so look for deeper rather than brighter tones.” After declaring a $49.99 black and red striped Gordon Ramsay Every Day 16-piece dish set to be “cute in a 1970s way,” McDonald found this $35.99 deep red set by Sango to be “very Barney’s New York looking. They’d be great for an Asian fusion dinner.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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At Kmart, the appliance shelves are bursting with food processors, blenders and toasters in vibrant shades of red. “You can now do a black and white kitchen with red appliances for a pop of color,” Mary McDonald says. To coordinate, she found a group of Essential Home kitchen linens, ranging from $2.99 for a pot handle cover to $12.99 for an apron.

“They look like Williams-Sonoma and are kind of preppy, too,” says the decorator, author of “Mary McDonald Interiors: The Allure of Style”. “Stripes are always a generally easy, cute choice. Simple checks are good. Polka dots? Maybe you should run from them.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Mary McDonald changes her stance on polka dots if they are textural. “I have these, for real, in glass,” McDonald says of Sandra Lee’s plastic hobnail tumblers, originally $3.99, slashed to $1.59. “I love how good they look for something made out of plastic. They’d be great for adding a formal touch to the kids table or for outdoor entertaining. You could even use them for vases.” (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Another find: a turkey-shaped salt and pepper shaker set, originally $6.99, marked down to $3.14. “These actually look expensive, like antique ironstone china from the early 19th century,” Mary McDonald says. “I have a lot of real ironstone dishes and they would fit right in, and at this price, I’d buy a number of sets for the Thanksgiving table. They’re decorative and people don’t have to reach for the salt and pepper.”

Read David A. Keeps’ related article and check out our Homes of the Times photo galleries(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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