Home decorating on a budget

Paint is the quickest and least expensive way to give a room a new look, but a homemade tapestry is another eye-catching option.

Spring is a great time to start tackling those home decorating projects on your to-do list, but getting started can be overwhelming. Often we just need some ideas and a little help to get us going. Here are some tips for giving your home a face-lift without breaking your budget.

Paint is the quickest and least expensive way to give a room a new look. If you’re having trouble choosing a color, tape several paint swatches up on the wall and glance at them at different times of day—and on different walls—to get an accurate idea of how the color will look. If you’re still having trouble deciding, buy a pint and paint a test wall. Painted stripes, using a wall color and one or two accent colors, are a great way to create the look of wallpaper without the cost and installation challenge.

When it comes to furniture and accessories, try to use what you already have. Furniture can be stained, painted and reupholstered. Try moving things around to see how they look in other locations and grouped with other items. Get out your good china, silver and crystal pieces and use them to display potpourri or artificial fruit on a bookshelf or fireplace mantel. A wine rack can be used as a magazine holder, an umbrella stand can be used as a planter, and a nice metal or ceramic vase can be used as a kitchen utensil holder.

The Heights has many inexpensive places to shop for home decorating items. Thrift stores and consignment shops are good options, and local antique stores carry some surprisingly affordable, unique items. Dollar stores sometimes have nice towels, linens, and shower curtains, and discount stores like Tuesday Morning, HomeGoods and Marshall’s have excellent closeout values. Marc’s stores have great houseware departments, though some locations have a bigger selection than others. City Buddha carries beautiful imported items. Craigslist, eBay, and Freecycle are also good sources for local furniture and decorating bargains. 

Don’t be afraid to shop at thrift stores to pick up find things left on tree lawns. You can also save a lot of money on labor by doing things yourself. You can refinish, recover, and repurpose things at a fraction of the cost of buying new. A trio of old louvered doors can be painted and hinged together to make a stylish room divider. A scratched wooden bookshelf or headboard can be stripped and refinished to look like new.  Practice painting with a brush and roller to learn how to apply paint yourself. Buy an inexpensive sewing machine and learn simple straight-stitch projects like curtains, wall hangings and tablecloths. Take do-it-yourself tile and wood flooring classes at home improvement stores, and sewing and decorating classes at craft stores.  

If it’s hard for you to figure out where to start, call a decorator for help. Like any professional you hire, you should feel comfortable with the person you choose, feel that he or she listens to you, and feel that he or she is knowledgeable. Many decorators charge by the hour, so you can use their expertise as much or as little as you need and can afford. Often, a 60- to 90-minute consultation yields many good ideas to get you started.

Judith Eugene

Judith Eugene, a native of Cleveland Heights, is an architect and interior decorator who provides consultations and home decorating classes through www.JudithEugeneDesigns.com.

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Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 11:14 AM, 04.04.2012