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Posts Tagged ‘decorating on a budget’

Skip the Reno: More Ways to Improve Your Bathroom on a Budget

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

This is the time of year when, as you’re getting ready for the holidays, you might start to think of your living space in terms of how visitors will view your home. Especially if you’ve inherited a bathroom straight out of the 70s or 80s but really can’t afford to do a major renovation right now, it might really start to bug you as we make our way toward Thanksgiving, Hanukah and Christmas. But you don’t have to be stuck with it entirely. Especially if it’s some color that has long since gone out of style, some simple, inexpensive changes like a little paint or new towel and bath mat sets will go a long way improve the look and feel of your bathroom without spending a lot of cash or time.

Choose Classic Colors

The quickest way to change the mood and appearance of a room, the bathroom being no exception, is to paint. Some might say neutrals are “boring” but soft shades of white, gray, beige and tan tend to brighten up the space while adding a soothing or tranquil element. Even if you’re stuck with outdated fixtures, classic colors like antique cream or pearl gray can neutralize the impact of the avocado tub-toilet-sink trio and transform the bathroom from outdated to updated.

Cosmetic Touchups

Whether you opt to paint or not, do a quick inspection of the tub/shower area and any other place in the bathroom where there is tile, including the floor. Does it appear dirty or dingy? Like adding a coat of paint, recaulking the bathtub and/or tile can whiten the tile work, and have a big impact on the bathroom’s overall outlook.

While the walls might be a neutral hue, accessories like matching towel sets, bath mats and decorative items like bottles, vases, jugs, etc. can be as colorful as you would like them to be. Some people don’t like things in a bathroom out in view, taking up counter space, particularly if the bathroom is a small one. But keep in mind that when you accessorize a bathroom (it actually applies to any room in your home), you are adding character and personality, which makes the room inviting.

You might not be able to invest in the time or money it would take to replace the bathroom vanity, but how about a new medicine cabinet or a new bathroom faucet?

Buy Basic then Customize

If you do have room in your budget for a vanity, consider purchasing an inexpensive bathroom vanity, then spending a little bit of cash to customize it. By replacing the countertop with a marble veneer one or buying more stylish hardware, you will create the look of a custom or high-end vanity at a fraction of the cost.

Skip the Reno: Ways to improve your Bathroom on a Budget

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Maybe you were in the middle of planning a spa bathroom make-over when your second eldest child announced that she was accepted into law school. Perhaps the décor has been fine in the past, but now you feel that your bathroom could do with more color and new decorations. And especially if you have a small bathroom and fantasize about knocking down a wall or two to accommodate a whirlpool bathtub, but can’t go that route for whatever reason, you might think it’s a lost cause. However, with a little creative thinking, elbow grease and some serious bargain hunting, you can give your bathroom a new look without it have to be a costly or time-consuming venture.

 Take Inventory then Spring Clean

Of course you clean your bathroom on a regular basis, but if you’re like many of us, stuff tends to accumulate in the bathroom vanity drawers and our bathroom cupboards can become cluttered with old medicine prescriptions, abandoned beauty products and multiple bottles of the same brand of shampoo (because we thought we were running out and we weren’t). Sort through all of your bathroom storage space and throw out or recycle everything that you no longer need or use.

Once you’ve finished spring cleaning your bathroom, take a few minutes just to look around and assess the room as it is now. What jumps out at you? Do the towels look a little shabby? Has the shower curtain had its day? Are the lighting fixtures the original ones from the 70s? Make a list of all the things you would like to change; then prioritize the list in terms of what you can do in the near future and what will have to wait. 

Refresh and Renew

Since most bathrooms are typically smaller in size in comparison to the other rooms in your home, one of the easiest and cheapest ways to give your bathroom a new look is to paints. Particularly if the walls haven’t been repainted in seven to 10 years, it will be worth your while.

Re-accessorize. Buy several sets of new towels that you can change with the seasons; replace the worn-out shower curtain and bath mat; add decorative lotion bottles, a soap dish or a new bathroom mirror. You’d be amazed at how any one of these little changes can make a big difference.

Has the caulking around the shower or tub turned gray and dingy and/or become cracked and unsightly? Remove it and replace it with new caulking.

Purchase a new vanity and install a new sink. If that’s not in your budget right now, replace the sink and/faucet. For a stylish, cohesive look buy matching taps and shower head for the tub/shower.

Giving your bathroom a new look doesn’t have to involve an expensive renovation. Pick one or more of these simple ways to give your bathroom a new look while on a budget.

Skip the Reno: Ways to improve your Kitchen

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

If you have a kitchen that is in need of a renovation that you just can’t afford right now, but it’s is driving you a little crazy, there are some inexpensive things that you can do right now to improve the space. You can get a lot of redecorating mileage out of simply taking inventory of your kitchen and making note of what needs your immediate attention. Particularly if the kitchen is small, include a “spring cleaning” as part of your inventory process – discovering what needs to be removed (permanently), replaced or recycled will free up cupboard and counter space, giving you more room to work with.

Think Color

Mix it up color wise. Bring as many different colors into the space as you can without making it feel “busy” or cluttered. A blue glass vase with yellow and white flowers in it sitting on a stone counter can add that perfect accent. A cheerful ceramic bowl displaying fresh fruit brightens up a kitchen while making it feel welcoming.

Think Upgrading

It doesn’t have to mean a major expense. When finding ways to give your kitchen a facelift without a major renovation, choosing one thing in your kitchen that you would like to change, for example the kitchen taps, will make a big difference to the look and feel of the space. Especially if something is outdated like the faucet or the kitchen cabinet hardware, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to upgrade one specific thing or area.

Think Accessories

When accessorizing, think practical and pretty. Curtains, decorative shelving or hanging baskets can convert a bland kitchen into a pleasant place to spend time, preparing a meal, making the kids a snack or just hanging out with the family.

Think Furniture

Particularly if it’s a small kitchen, avoid placing items such as a trash can on the floor. Not only does it use up valuable floor space but it can give the kitchen an untidy look. Pieces of furniture like the Venture Horizon Granite Top Butcher Bin Venture Horizon Granite Top Butcher Bin with Pantry that is multipurpose will add both functionality and style to any food prep area. The Winsome Drop Leaf Table with 2 Square Stools doubles as a breakfast bar and a kitchen cart, providing you with versatile, space-saving solutions.

Today’s kitchens aren’t just for meal prep any more. The modern kitchen is often the social hub of the house, whether you’re hanging out with the family, entertaining friends or need somewhere to finish your cup of coffee while completing the Sunday crossword. But it’s not going to be the heart of your home if you’re unhappy with the space. Without going through a major reno, try some of these ways to breathe new life into your kitchen without having to break the budget.

Making Apartment Living Work

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

For many of us living in apartments we sometimes end up with living spaces that aren’t exactly to our liking. Whether it’s because we can’t paint the walls a bright red or there’s wall-to-wall carpet when we’d prefer hardwood floors or the furniture started out as hand-me-downs and now really needs to be replaced but there’s no extra cash, apartment dwellers often “settle” for lesser-than interiors. But even if you live in an apartment and are on a budget, there are things that you can do to breathe new life to the rooms of your home to really make them shine. Decide what is important to you – for example, spending money on one or two expensive furniture pieces might be more of a priority for you than buying a new area rug or perhaps comfort is more important than style: take into account what you like and the space you have to work with. 

Take Inventory

Do a room by room inventory. Pretend you are a visitor and are seeing the apartment for the first time. Then make a list of what you liked about the room. Take note of what you’d like to change. Examine the inventory list you made for each room. Make an action plan for pieces of furniture you no longer like or would like to recycle or move to another room in your apartment. Recycle could mean anything from giving it away to painting it or repurposing it to actually disposing of it in the appropriate manner. 

Work with the Things You can’t Change

Work with what is around you and accept the things you can’t change. Apartment living is often governed by rules we have no control over. If you are unable to paint your living room or bedroom the color you would like, you can brighten up the walls in other ways. Choose larger framed pictures or prints that are colorful. Or picking frames in bright colors for black and white prints will create interesting contrast while adding some color to the walls. You could also select multi-colored window treatments with a detailed pattern or pick an area rug with bright shades. 

Change the Things You Can

If you never liked the couch that your aunt gave you after she bought her new leather sofa, now is the time to take action. Especially if the hand-me-down furniture you inherited was originally bought for a house, replacing specific furniture pieces that are in scale for apartment living will not only lend the room a new look, it will also give you more room to move around. When you can’t buy a new sofa or dining chairs, consider purchasing a removable sofa cover or adding seat cushions in a fresh color.

Sometimes simply rearranging the furniture can improve the atmosphere of the room by making it more functional or esthetically appealing. To rearrange a room so that the space is optimized:

  • Select the biggest piece of furniture in the room
  • Pick a wall that will be the best one to accommodate it
  • Pick a focal point for the room: a bedroom’s focal point, for example, is the bed
  • Arrange the rest of the bedroom furniture in the room around the chosen focal point
  • Make sure that you can move around each piece of furniture easily and that you can open doors, drawers, etc. without bumping into anything else

Find ways to de-clutter; getting rid of things that you no longer use is particularly vital to successful apartment living. The look of a room can be greatly improved by replacing outdated lampshades, accent cushions, bedding, etc.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Small Apartment Help

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Design Question

Hello! I ran across your post about interior design help from the Interior Design Forum.

I am getting my first apartment in August so I have no idea how to best decorate a small room. Attached is the basic layout of the room I will be living in (unfortunately, that is the only perspective I was able to find) and the picture has been taken from the entryway.

I know the trick to make a small room to appear bigger is light, neutral colors, so I was thinking of maybe painting the whole room as such, or maybe have an accent wall behind my bed frame (the bed will most likely be rotated – vertical rather than horizontal) or the small portion of wall behind the desk.

I am currently a college student so a space promoting “concentration”, edgy but fun, or a mixture with sophistication would be great. I am really open to any ideas/themes you might have, so if it would be no trouble, I would love an input from you. Thanks!

Design Answer

The picture is fine – good enough to give me an idea of your new living space.

You’re right about the tricks to make a small room seem larger: maximize the source of natural light in the room and ensure there is a balance of task and ambient lighting; paint the walls a neutral or light shade; and use mirrors to “move” light around the room. I would choose deeper neutrals or earth tones over lighter shades. You could also go light shades of cool colors such as pale blue or green. Your instinct regarding pairing a neutral color with an accent shade is a good one. If you go that route, though, plan on using a bold or intense warm color (reds, oranges, browns, purples).

Match one or more colors in your bedding, curtains and area rug to the accent color you chose for the wall. If you decide not to use an accent wall color and you stick to neutrals, this will give you the opportunity to bring color into the room when dressing the bed and accessorizing the other parts of the bedroom.

The fact that the room already has mirrors in the form of closet doors is a plus. To get maximum mileage from these mirrored doors, place large framed (larger than the ones currently on the wall) pictures or prints with lots of lighter colors directly opposite. This also will help make the room appear bigger.

To attain an interior design look that mixes edgy and fun with some sophistication, selected contemporary bedroom furniture with clean lines and a smooth, darker finish like espresso, chocolate or cappuccino. Another tip to keep in mind when shopping for bedroom furniture for smaller spaces is to choose furnishings that are dual-purpose, like a platform bed with storage drawers; a bed bench that allows you to store extra bedding or seasonal clothing; or nightstand that can hold magazines or books.

Hope this is helpful in giving you a starting point. Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out.

Come back next Monday when we tackle another interior design question. Keep sending me those emails and don’t forget to include pictures if you can.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Small Apartment, Small Budget

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Design Question

I have recently moved to [this city]. I love my new apartment, but it is small. I know what I love and want. I’m in love with boho & vintage. I’d much rather use what I have or go to second hand stores and find random objects. Right now I’m on the prowl for an old school type writer that works, to leave notes & messages by the entranceway, instead of scribbling on paper or dry erase board!

I just don’t know how to go about it in a not so COSTLY manner. Any advice or suggestions?

Design Answer

I really like your idea for a “message board.” These things are exactly the little touches that make our living spaces unique to us.

Actually, you are well on your way to transforming your living space. You know the style you want (bohemian and/or vintage) and you’re aware of the major limitations or obstacles (available space and money). That’s half the battle.

Bohemian Palette

One of the fastest and cheapest ways to redecorate is to paint. Before you do, though, check your lease agreement or with the apartment building manager to see if can – many places will let you as long as you agree to repaint the apartment in the default color when you leave. Bohemian style will allow you to choose colors (from Behr) that are vibrant. Think red – anything from this color family including orange, brown and purple will give your walls a rich Bohemian patina. These four color suggestions will work well in any room of your apartment, especially the bedroom and even the kitchen.

In terms of furnishings, bohemian or vintage style gives you plenty of creative license, because you don’t have to be too rigid – you can mix furniture pieces together that are essentially different styles. Make a list for each room of the furniture pieces you would like to keep. Maximize the space in each room by choosing furnishings that are multipurpose such as an ottoman that can be used as a footrest, coffee table and additional seating or a platform bed that includes under-bed storage drawers.

Make a second list of specific items you would like to add. Beside each one, write how much you would like to spend. This will help you stay on budget when you go shopping. It will also help clarify what is important to you and what isn’t. This is particularly useful when decorating a small apartment because space is at a premium.

When selecting furniture for a small apartment, think storage. Wherever you can increase your storage options, such as adding a trunk-style coffee table or an end table that has all drawers, it will make your living space more functional. In a small apartment or in small-sized rooms, leaving things out in the open or even clutter in general, is the quickest way to make the room look and feel even smaller.

Take measurements. You don’t want to bring a sofa or a bookcase home that won’t fit. Make sure that you choose in-scale furniture and save those oversized pieces for when you have more room to spare.

Especially when decorating in the bohemian style, which by its very nature can be “busy,” you will want to pay close attention to how you arrange the furniture. Let each piece “breathe.” Make sure that there’s enough room to walk around without bumping into things. The same goes for accessories – select a few choice items and limit the number of pictures in frames. You want your home to be warm and inviting but not cramped or crowded.

Thanks for writing in. Stay tuned next Monday when we tackle another interior design question. Keep sending me those emails and don’t forget to include pictures if you can.

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