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Budget Hindered By the Economy? Digs Looking a Little Dated? Read On For Some Cheap Chic Tips (For-Dummies-Style)
-There's no faster, more inexpensive way to transfom a room than with paint.
If you're anything like me, though, color selection can be a monumental task. I learned after the unfortunate "raspberry hallway" incident that a great way to select color palettes is to use a fabric or paper print with shades you like. Pull the more subtle tones out for all-over wall color, and use brighter, more intense shades for accents. A bucket of paint = a lot of bang for your buck.
-Drapes: you shouldn't be using towels or bed sheets.
For real, if you can't commit, at least put up some mini blinds. Most home stores will cut blinds to fit your window. Sewing your own is also pretty darn easy. If you can stitch a seam, you can sew simple curtains. Nothing de-classes a room like a sprawling expanse of Optimus Prime on Pima Cotton swathing your windows, so get to it!
That dingy, stained dresser at the rummage sale next door may look like trash, but it's functional, it's ten bucks, and a can of paint for wood surfaces will turn it into an absolute gem! Particularly if you have kids, furniture often takes a beating. It's well worth considering buying used and repainting or restaining it. You'll have a durable piece, and you can change out the colors as often as you like, to suit a new decor.
-Secondhand stores: great for decorative/household items.
If you think Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and other secondhand stores sell nothing but junk, think again. Your dollar will buy a lot there, and they often have lots of neat glassware and vintage items.
Make a day of hitting the shops. It's like a treasure hunt!
-Frame your own art.
Or classic magazine covers. Or pages from beautifully illustrated books. Not everything displayed behind a pane of glass has to come from a gallery. Buy your own frames and mattes and get creative about what you put behind them.
-Use household objects
Seek out the beauty in everyday objects: a vase full of multi-colored dried beans, books with old, weathered bindings, cool rocks from your last trip up the shore. Display these things. If you care enough to keep them, then they're worth affording a place of honor.
-Create a labor cooperative among friends
Everyone knows that doing-it-yourself is typically the cheapest way to go, but sometimes it's a huge burden of time and effort. It doesn't have to be, with the help of friends. Establish a weekend, or just a day each month, to dedicate to a friend's project. Over the months, a lot can get accomplished, and good times will be shared. Everyone saves, and everyone wins. There's no better value than that.
Added on January 20, 2010