The $0 home remodel
Can't afford a major redo? Designers offer 9 tips for giving a fresh look to old décor.
My daughter recently "remodeled" her living room for free. All she did was rearrange the furniture and bring in a lamp from elsewhere in the house.
The new furniture grouping creates a direct (and thus more welcoming) entry point for the room. It also makes conversation easier. The lamp adds brightness and allows for nighttime reading.
"It looks like a completely different room," she wrote in a blog post called "The $0 makeover." "Big changes -- without spending a penny."
Tired of your own interiors but can't afford a major do-over? Frugal Cool can help.
I asked a few design experts about no-cost remodeling tips. Their answers were fascinating, and the photos one sent made me wish I could be that clever.
Since summer often means entertaining, why not create a new look for your guests? Bonus: When it's too hot to go outdoors, you'll have a comfortable, visually striking place to sit and fan yourself.
What's in the room?
1. Rethink your furniture. You may have too much, according to Monica Ricci, the organizing expert at Manilla.com. Do you really need end tables? Why have four bookcases in the bedroom? Consider the primary function of each space "and leave only the pieces that support it," Ricci says.
2. Rearrange furniture, part 1. A long, low bureau from the spare bedroom would look like a sideboard in the dining area. That patio plant stand is a fun way to store bath towels. "Moving furniture from room to room definitely can give you a new look," says Los Angeles-based designer Erinn V. Maison. Can't picture it? A set of fresh eyes can make all the difference, so ask a friend to brainstorm the space with you. (Post continues after video.)
3. Rearrange furniture, part 2. As in, arrange your furniture in someone else's house. Several designers suggested temporary trades with friends. "It's almost as if you bought new furniture," says Tracy Metro, the host of the SPACEStv design show "I Live With My Mom."
This works only if you don't have kids or pets who might accidentally damage someone else's armchair, though, and if you are careful "not to spill red wine on their white sofa."
Lighter and brighter
4. Paint! Just a few hours' work can take you "from drab to fab," says Ricci, who suggests watching The Freecycle Network for paint giveaways.
Dan Faires also gets free paint. The designer, whose "DanMade" videos can be found on HGTV.com, collects leftover colors from friends and blends them to create interesting new hues. "Always remember that paint dries darker," he says, and don't mix semi-gloss with flat paints or oils.
5. Let there be (different) light. Move lamps around in the room, or swap fixtures from other rooms. "You can change the entire look and feel of a space simply by lighting it differently," Faires says.
Moving things around
6. "Edit" your décor. Strip walls and clear surfaces, advises Blanche Garcia. "Then 're-shop' your items, but don't put anything where it was originally -- and leave two items out," says the designer, who works with the Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible."
7. Change the way you display. If your décor pieces are spread out, group them; if they're grouped, break them up. Identify the real "statement" pieces and let them stand alone, says Jill M. Banks of Happily Better After in Willingboro, NJ.
8. Trade accents. Plenty of us have items that aren't getting used, such as gifts that never really fit but that we feel slightly guilty discarding. Amanda Thomas, the "domestic CEO" of the Quick and Dirty Tips website, suggests a "décor party" with friends. Everyone gets to pick at least one item; donate any unwanted pieces.
9. Showcase the unusual. A vase of flowers is nice but it frequently needs refreshing. Metro suggests filling a clear glass vase with shells, interesting stones or acorns. Old children’s toys -- large stuffed animals, a tricycle, a rocking horse -- can create a surprisingly sophisticated look.
Found objects add character. Faires displays greeting cards and post cards in a discarded wire bike basket. He turned an old wooden medicine cabinet into a shadow box.
"Anything can become artwork," Faires says. "Art is a great conversation piece, so having a story to back it up is always inspiring to others."
Readers: What's your favorite way to change the look of a room?
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