Fresh Decorating Tips on a Frugal Budget

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Even when we don’t have a lot of money to spend, we can all get bored with our home’s old look. We can walk through our home and not even notice how we’ve decorated it. Your home should give you pleasure. It should uplift

Stripping Down for a New Look

The new look is clean, simple, and uncluttered and uses mostly light neutral colors with, possibly, one dramatic color added for impact.

One way to achieve this look is to shop your home and not a store. First, decide which room you want to update. Then, on a day when you have the time and energy, leave the upholstered pieces and heavy furniture in place, but remove everything else – area rugs, lamps, lightweight tables, and all the accessories, whether they are hanging on the wall or sitting on a shelf.

Walls, Floor Coverings, and Upholstery First

You don’t have to replace your floor covering or reupholster to update your look. Designers on HGTV change the look of a room quickly and inexpensively with area rugs and slip covers. Consider the fabrics and colors that fit your family and lifestyle. White, for example, is probably not the best choice for a living room or great room if you have children or pets.  Light neutrals or patterns do offer the freshest look, though.

Your choice of fabric texture, color, and pattern can create a difference in tone ranging from formal and elegant to casual and easy-going. If you own your home or condo, and you want to allow the time, you can take your update a step further and repaint the walls. If you rent or want to take the quicker makeover route, slipcovers and area rugs furnish the groundwork for the rest of your update.

If you happen to find a sale, or wait for one, you could buy area rugs and sets of slipcovers for seasonal changes of colors, in colors for holiday decorating, or for a change from your everyday look to a look for parties or formal entertaining.

Instead of buying a new area rug, consider what a rug from another room might add to the room you are redecorating, and swap your area rugs around to create new looks two or more rooms in one day.

Shopping Your Home

You can shop your home by swapping more than just area rugs. You can also swap lightweight pieces of furniture. Consider new rooms and new uses for the tables, nightstands, and lightweight cabinets or shelves you have in other rooms, and the accessories you have displayed on them.

Explore your cupboards and curio or china cabinets for vases, bowls, pitchers, or other items you rarely use that could become a focal point for your newly redecorated room, either on their own as the container for a flower arrangement. Think of new uses for any decorative items, heirloom and otherwise, that you have stored away and rarely use. A one-of-a-kind plate, the sole survivor of a set that belonged to your mother or grandmother, could be a conversation piece hung on a wall. A collection of cookie cutters hung in an interesting cluster could become another unique conversation starter. Use your imagination when inventing new uses for items that are new-to-you and others simply because you’ve had them stored away and have rarely used them.

For the new, simple, uncluttered look, don’t use too many accent pieces. For example, you might bring an interesting accent table into the room, use a bowl or vase you’ve found for a simple flower arrangement to place on top of it, and then hang a large mirror or a single picture above it to create the single focal point on that wall. In a small room the table, flower arrangement, and mirror or picture  might become the single, dominant focal point for the room with everything else subordinated to it.

If you are just starting out or you aren’t the pack-rat type, you can find eye-catching accent pieces at garage sales and thrift stores. If you need ideas for making use of your found objects, try the Junk Market Style Web site.

Your Home Should Reflect You

Whatever the latest look is, your home should not be a look-alike clone of those in the lifestyle and decorating magazines or on the lifestyle and decorating shows on television. Use their ideas as a guide, but inject you into their suggestions, and ignore what you dislike. If the new focus on neutrals looks drab to you and you like colors, use them. If the uncluttered look is too sparse for you, bring all the accent pieces you want into room.

Beyond shopping your home for the decorative items you have stored and don’t use, there is another way to personalize your own home. Instead of buying the posters or the framed artwork in the store, use your camera to create your own artwork.

Take candid portraits of family, friends, and pets. Take photographs of street scenes or buildings that intrigue you. Try photographing building interiors or exteriors from an unusual angle or focus on one architectural detail. Photograph landscapes or waterscapes that express a mood that appeals to you. Take close-ups of flowers from your garden or flowers that you notice in a park. Create a still life of things you use in a hobby and photograph them.

Pay for high-quality photo developing in a size suitable for framing and hanging. Visit a frame store or the frame department of a craft store to select a mat and frame that shows your work off to the best advantage and let them mat and frame it for you. Then you will not only have chosen pieces for your home that reflect you, you will have created some of the pieces you display yourself.

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