Home Decor

Makeover Your Room Without a Budget

I’m the kind of person who prefers to spend her money on experiences rather than things. I’d rather have a simple home with a smaller house payment and have money left over for traveling to wonderful, memorable places. I want to have free cash for spending a day shopping with my daughter or lunching with my sister. But I also want to have a comfortable and attractive house. I love looking at home decor photos and I want the rooms of my own home to be as pretty as a magazine cover. So how does one go about getting that cute house on a limited, practically non-existent budget?

For several months, I have been going through my house, cleaning up, tossing out, and reconfiguring spaces.  My goal has been to make the house I live in every day feel more relaxed and comfortable, like one of my favorite vacation rentals.

When I’m staying in a vacation rental, dings and dents in the furniture don’t seem to matter much. We overlook damage done by past guests or mismatched furniture pieces brought in by the owner. It’s just our own family kicking back and relaxing for a week or two and we’ve got no one to impress. I’ve discovered that creating that kind of a carefree atmosphere in my own home has less to do with money and a lot to do with attitude. I’ve learned to overlook the dings and dents.

I’m not suggesting that I don’t ever make repairs and replace broken items. But my goal is no longer to have a showroom perfect house. All I want these days is to have a pretty home where a a beat-up piece of furniture won’t ruin my life– or the picture.

I’ve learned to reuse, recycle, and repurpose the things I already have or things I can buy on the cheap at thrift stores and garage sales. But the easiest way I’ve found to change the look of a room without breaking the bank is to go “shopping” at home.

Every decorating project starts with a clean room. You don’t see piles of junk mail or stacks of newspapers in those great magazine photos. I remove the clutter. I put things away. I vacuum and dust. I look at every piece in the room and ask myself if I really need it or like it. Then I put all of the things I don’t like or use anymore into the Goodwill pile to be donated.

Now that I’m rid of everything I don’t like, I strip the make-over room down to the bones. I remove all the accessories, small tables, footstools, knick knacks etc. I take all the pictures off the walls. Everything is placed, temporarily, in a guest bedroom or dining room or anywhere that gets it out of the way. Without all of the extras like tables and magazine racks that I’d normally be worried about making space for, I can look at the furniture only. I place furniture covers on any pieces I don’t like the looks of and then rearrange it until I find a plan that suits me.

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Are the walls looking dingy? Maybe the walls aren’t in bad shape but I’d just like to “jazz” things up a bit. Paint can make a big difference in a room. But paint is no longer the cheap fix that it used to be. A gallon can run $30-$60. So before I  run to the paint store, I check the basement to see what paints I have leftover from other projects. If you don’t have a paint stash of your own don’t forget that it never hurts to ask. Make a post on your Facebook page and tell your friends that you’re looking for leftover paint. Lots of people would be happy for you to take those half used cans off their hands to reduce their own clutter. Not enough of any one color? Don’t hesitate to mix colors to create a new one. Or to paint each wall a different color. If you’re artistic, paint a mural. Or freshen a space by sponging a bright new color over the old, allowing both colors to shine.

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Are you a fan of wallpaper? Thrift stores often have leftover rolls. It’s usually difficult to find enough of one pattern to redo a whole room but single rolls of different patterns can still be useful. With just one roll you can add a patterned paper to the lower half of one wall and top it with a decorative border or chair rail. Or get really creative by cutting squares from many different rolls and layering them side by side. You could even cut out shapes to replicate your favorite quilt pattern. Look up wallpaper ideas on-line to see what creative ideas other people have tried.

Once I have the furniture in place, only now do I think about adding side tables and other accessories. Instead of automatically bringing back the old ones I walk through the house and “steal” pieces from other rooms that will serve my purpose. Try it. Take your bedside table and place it beside the recliner. Need a coffee table? Use that old trunk in the attic. Take the lamps from your home office and take pictures from the guest bedroom to hang on your empty nails. Build a whole new room using items from other places in your home. You can use the items you’ve cast off to the holding area to fill the holes you create. Your decor will change in more rooms than just the one and it will feel like you’ve had a true room makeover. And, if you end up not liking it in the end, you can start from scratch all over again!

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