Budget-wise Home Decorating Ideas

Planning & Saving
on January 27, 2008

Your home is your castle, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a king’s ransom to breathe new life into a tired decor. Try these easy and inexpensive do-it-yourself ideas to transform a room in an afternoon or weekend.

Fast facelifts

Update a lamp by changing its shade for $10 to $30. When shopping for a lampshade, take the base with you to see which cover looks best. Make sure the shade covers the bulb, electrical socket and on-off switch, and is in proportion to the base. For a quick-fix in a bathroom, add a new shower curtain, rug and towels to give a color boost for less than $85. Declutter the family room and rearrange the furniture. For about $50, you can add a tall houseplant in the corner to soften the room’s hard edges. Replace a ho-hum kitchen light fixture with a stylish new one for $30 to $100. You’ll be surprised at its impact.

Weekend wonders

  • Remove an old varnish finish from a small table or chair to allow the wood grain to shine through. Brush on a liquid or gel varnish remover, then remove the old finish with fine steel wool. Use mineral spirits to wash away any residue. Let it dry and wipe on tung oil for a fine topcoat finish. You’ll spend about $35.
  • If you like the existing wall color but want to add some pizzazz, stencil a border near the ceiling or at chair rail height. Use a precut plastic stencil pattern sheet, available at craft stores and home centers. Stenciling is easy: After securing the stencil sheet on the wall with masking tape or spray adhesive, dab a stencil brush in paint and apply it in the stencil holes, then reposition the sheet on the wall, repeating until the design is completed. For a 12-foot-by-15-foot room, this project will cost about $30 for the stencil, brush and two colors of acrylic paint.
  • If you’re not an artist but want a whimsical way to decorate a kid’s room, try a paint-by-number mural from www.elephantsonthewall.com, an extensive online source of murals. For about $35 to $95, you can purchase a mural kit that includes a pattern, transfer paper, color guide and instructions; mural themes include nursery rhymes, Noah’s Ark, sports and animals.
  • To give a custom touch to a window blind, shade or drapery, add a fabric-covered cornice topper. Choose material that complements your furnishings, assemble the cornice and upholster it with batting and fabric using a staple gun. At www.diydecorator.com you’ll find cornice frame kits for about $45.
  • Cover up an ugly floor with carpet tiles to make a room appear larger and more unified. This modular flooring solution has 18- and 24-inch square tiles, and doesn’t require adhesive. A pad is attached to each tile. Tiles cost about $1 to $2 per square foot at home centers and websites such as www.icarpettiles.com.
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