Shoestring Decorating

It’s February and we’re all still recovering from the holidays…especially our wallets!  But unfortunately, our homes don’t understand that.  So if your home, whether it’s the living room or family room is looking a little bare, dull and or just plain blah, don’t despair!!!  There are some things you can do to decorate on a shoestring budget that will give your room some needed oomph and get you ready for the upcoming spring season!

Paint Your World!

Paint is the cheapest and fastest way to dramatically change the look of a room in your house.  Get away from boring beige and don’t be afraid to try new dramatic colours.  Go to your local paint store and pick out samples of 3 colours you love or better yet, buy a couple of paint samplers and try in it your room before you commit.  If painting all 4 walls in a new dramatic colour scares you, then paint one feature wall first – just make sure it’s the wall you want your guests to focus on!

Go for a Theme

For the room you want to update, choose a theme whether inspired by a favorite color, vacation photo, hobby or a decorative accent. Create a vignette of this theme for your fireplace mantle, book shelf or console table.  A quick rule of thumb is to think in vignettes of 3 – items of different colours, heights or shapes.   For example, if you want to create a vignette using candles, use 3 candles, each of a different color or height, but of the same shape. For something like vases, you may to use three different shapes but keep the height and color similar.

Use What You Have

The latest craze in home decorating is recycling or “up-cycling” what you already have.  Take a look around your house and see what items can be repurposed or updated to reflect today’s home fashion look.  Sometimes it’s as easy as changing the knobs on an antique dresser – or better yet, painting it in a glossy black sheen, adding some hardware with bling and voila! you have a gorgeous and an ‘oh so glam’ dresser to display in your hallway that would probably set you back over $700.00 at a high-end furniture store.

Step away from the wall!

The belief that having furniture up against the wall makes a room look more spacious is incorrect.  When you pull furniture away from the walls your eyes rest easier.  This look creates an inviting atmosphere that encourages conversation, cozyness and creativity.  So move things around — your furniture, your bookshelves, everything! — until you find a pleasing arrangement that works for you and your family.  And this one will cost you zero dollars!

Let There Be Light

Lighting is the most overlooked way of transforming a space – it can be as easy and cheap as moving a lamp. The right lighting is not only functional, but can act as a powerful mood setter. One of the first things I look at when I walk into a client’s home is whether they have dimmers!  Adding dimmers to a ceiling light fixture or floor lamp will allow you to create and control mood and light levels.   And please, don’t forget to buy energy efficient light bulbs!!!

Create an Art Wall

If you have lots of wall space to fill but no money to invest in artwork, consider large groupings of photos framed in all black or all white frames….IKEA has the best frames for this low-cost effect.  Group together photos from a similar collection (or that have the same size and theme) in order to create a symmetrical, uniform look on your wall. This will create huge impact for little money.

The Art of Disguise

Another cheap way to decorate is to buy slipcovers for your furniture.   For a couple of $100 you can add a couple slipcovers and cover that old couch/armchair and give your room a totally new look.  Add an accent colour through cushions and a throw and you’ve got a simple pulled together look without having to spend a lot of money.  Quick rule of thumb for décor accents:  Use a colour accent at least 3 times in a room or it will look like an accident versus an accent!

Flower Power!

And here’s one last easy home remedy for drab rooms on the cheap? Add color and style with live houseplants or flowers — an instant pick-me-up!  I personally love Hydrangeas because they are so big and full….2 will easily fill a small to medium vase and add immediate colour and impact!  Or imagine adding some flowers to gramma’s old silver teapot hidden in your kitchen cupboard that you never use….gorgeous!

I hope these tips inspire you to unleash the interior decorator that I know resides in all of you!!

Christine Da Costa, MBA

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