Home & Garden

10 tips for decorating on the cheap

Hardware can be used as picture hangers, wall hooks or even to hold jewelry.
Hardware can be used as picture hangers, wall hooks or even to hold jewelry. Courtesy of Home Depot

You want to spruce up your space but are afraid it will cost you three months’ rent. Forget those woes — these design tips can brighten your life and your living space.

Suzy Opalanski, an interior designer with Lowe’s, calls it “sweat equality” and emphasizes that even the smallest changes can make the biggest difference in a room.

“It’s hard work, but it’s you investing your hard time in your home,” she says.

And really, with the right tools and tips of the trade in mind, you can redo any space for next-to-nothing.

Here are 10 design tips that will get any do-it-yourself rookie on the right track.

1. Oops paint — There’s a secret part in the paint sections at Home Depot and Lowe’s known as the “oops paint.” This is where paint that people didn’t purchase ends up, and it can sometimes be discounted 50 percent off. The only catch: You don’t know which colors will be in the section, so it may take multiple visits to find the right shade.

2. Powder room fix-ups — Updating a bathroom doesn’t have to mean knocking down walls or putting in a new tub. Something as simple as updating the vanity can make a huge impact. “Instead of purchasing a new vanity, which is a big-budget item, try changing out the faucet and adding a new mirror,” said Yvette Mullings, an interior designer with Edgewater Design.

3. Tile it up — Updating a kitchen doesn’t always mean buying new appliances, which can cost thousands of dollars. One way to create a new feel is to replace the backsplash with new colors. Adding mesh-backed tile to a kitchen can be done for less than $100, Opalanski says. “It makes a big impact on how your kitchen looks.”

4. Clean up — By cleaning up your clutter, a room can easily be transformed into a more livable area. Renata Pfuner, owner and principal designer for Pfuner Designs, incorporates elements of feng shui, the Chinese art of creating harmonious surroundings, into her designs. Decluttering can change the mood of a room. With the newly found space you can find storage for items that had been placed out of view.

5. Shop at home — You already have a house or apartment full of furniture — so just work with it. The design experts at Home Depot recommend moving things around to create a different look in a room. A few switches can make a difference. Plus, you can always paint whatever doesn’t match.

6. Add texture — Items such as stools, pillows and blankets can be found anywhere from high-end stores to thrift shops. Pfuner recommends shopping at stores such as Home Goods for an affordable price on these items. Or try the home sections in Ross, Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx. Pillows, throws, stools or ottomans will give your room a warmer feel.

7. Look up — One of the most forgotten spaces in a room is the ceiling, so add some flare to a room by playing it up with some color. “A dining-room ceiling is a great place to add a dramatic color, especially if the walls are neutral,” Mullings said. “Welcome guests to your home by adding a splash of color to your foyer ceiling.”

8. Get wooded up — A design secret used by the frugal are the pallets that can be found at home-improvement stores. Opalanski says these pieces of wood are often sold at a reduced price. They can be turned into everything from coffee tables to sofas to shelving. Check out the Internet for ideas.

9. Mirror, mirror — Mirrors are a great way to add life to a room, but a large sunburst mirror can be pricey, so Mullings suggests buying three smaller inexpensive sunburst mirrors and then arranging them in a random pattern or a straight line.

10. Get an app — You may have a fun design idea, but committing to it can seem like a leap. See your vision before you make it permanent with apps that allow users to move around furniture in a room, see colors on a wall and even view how tiles will look on your floors. Sara Tayte, chief design manager of Affordable Interior Design Miami, recommends using Interior Design and TapGlance, which are paid apps, or the free application ColorSnap by Sherwin Williams, which allows users to view paint swatches on the wall. Tayte says these application are a “great way to preview the end results without wasting money or time. Or wrecking your walls!”