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Spring is in the air and a young (or whatever) Dishmag reader’s mind turns to…… decorating. Right? Go with me here. Spring is almost upon us and if you’re anything like me, you are ready for something new. But if you’d like a change of scenery, homewise, it’s a tough time for you. Because of “the sub-prime meltdown” and the “credit crunch” it’s not the best time to try to sell your place, or move to a new one. So what to do? How can you remake and renew your home this spring without breaking the bank? Worry not, I’m here to help.

 

Color Me Spring

If you want to make the most dramatic change, work from the largest area in a room to the smallest: walls, windows, floors, furnishings, accessories. The larger the decorating surface, the more immediate impact it will have.

So, start with the walls. Paint is the cheapest and fastest way to make a real impact and if you need to know the best way to paint, check out my previous Hammer Glamour about painting. Hammer Glamour Episode #7 and #8

When you’re choosing your color, please take some chances. Don’t do white or beige. Trust me. If you pick a bold color, you’ll feel better every time you walk into the room. But, how do you pick the color? Simple, really. Just pick a color out of a piece of some fabric you’re using in the room. In other words, if you have a patterned sofa or a pillow or rug, just pick a color from that for the walls. It will automatically go with the all the other stuff in the room. Clever, eh?

Don’t want to paint? Just add a wallpaper border to the walls you’ve already got. Nowadays, wallpaper borders are all pre-pasted and available in a million designs to go with everything, making them a cheap and easy way to add color and interest. You can use them at the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling or at chair rail height to break up long walls. A less expensive and even more creative alternative is to use stencils and paint a border or design. Fast and fabulous.

 

Refocus Yourself

Rearranging your furniture isn’t just good exercise, it’s free decorating. Start with the biggest pieces such as sofas and big chairs and refocus them. If you’ve got everything focused on the fireplace, re-orient them around the entertainment center or a great painting or a beautiful bay window. It will feel like a whole new room.

When you’re adding the smaller pieces like lamps, side tables and chairs, feel free to borrow stuff from other rooms. Mix it all up. You may find that the little plant stand on the porch works as an end table next to your easy chair. Think outside the room.

 

All-Accessory Pass

Accessories can shake things up without costing a dime. You probably already have tons of stuff stored away in your attic or basement that you can haul out. And if you don’t, I’ll bet your friends or family do. Do a little bartering with your buddies. Trade your old lamp for your sister’s bowl or framed poster. Don’t forget that you can reinvent stuff. Old curtains can become throw pillows. An old bedspread can have new life as curtains.

And, if you can’t find economically priced (or free) curtains, pillows or throws, give your current ones a completely new look by dying them. Cold water dyes come in tons of colors and are easy to use. You can use your washing machine to dye them all at once, and they’ll all match if they’re dyed together. Just make sure to use enough dye to get a rich color. Then run the washing machine one time empty before you do any actual laundry again. (I’m sure you can guess why.)

Or, go the other way. Instead of adding accessories, take them away. De-clutter your place. Here’s an easy trick: Grab all those little framed photos off your side table and mount them on a single matte. Frame it and hang it on the wall. You have a cleaner, simpler look while not losing out on the opportunity to smile back at all your friends and family.

Also, now that spring is bringing with it more sunlight, spread it around. Mirrors not only provide a handy place to check your look, they also capture the sunlight and bounce it around, especially if you hang one across from a window.

 

Kitchen Aid

The room you spend the most time in has got to be your kitchen so don’t forget to give it a new look. Paint the walls, and if your cabinets are in rough shape, paint them too. Take the doors off and lay them flat to paint them so you don’t end up with runs and drips. Too much trouble? Even changing the cabinet and drawer pulls can have a big impact.

Is your kitchen floor in rough shape or are you just plain sick of looking at it? Believe it or not, you can paint that too. If it’s a vinyl tile or sheet flooring, use a primer made for non-porous surfaces such as KILZ, then paint the floor and seal it with two layers of polyurethane. If you have a wood floor, gently rough up the floor with a sander, then use a primer for wood, paint (or stain) and seal with two coats of polyurethane as above. Ask for guidance at your local home center or hardware store.

If you don’t want to paint your floor, you can put a new floor right over it. Those stick on vinyl tiles come in every pattern you can imagine and they cost about $1 per square foot.

Finally, spring is a great time to add plants and they’re great to have in a kitchen because they’re easy to water – no traipsing around the house with a watering can and you’re in there every day so you don’t forget. Even if you have a black thumb, there are window herb gardens that anyone can grow. Trust me on this.

 

If you take a few weekends to do some of these cheap and easy projects, you’ll feel like you’re living in a whole new house. And, if your house is a bit spruced up, you may find you actually can sell it. But you might not want to anymore. Finally, it’s important to remember in these tough economic times… it’s always darkest until you change the light bulb.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 111 - September 4167
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