By Nancy Kalish
Want to spruce up your home but think it's bound to cost a fortune? Not so, says syndicated home columnist Marni Jameson, author of The House Always Wins: Create the Home You Love-Without Busting Your Budget and House of Havoc: How to Make--and Keep--a Beautiful Home Despite Cheap Spouses, Messy Kids, and Other Difficult Roommates.
"There are many inexpensive ways to give a room a whole new look with just a bit of effort," says Jameson. Here are five of her favorites:
1. Google some great art
You can own a masterpiece for the cost of the paper and an inexpensive frame. Just click on Google's image tab, and then enter Degas, Da Vinci or the name of your favorite artist to bring up a huge array of gorgeous images. Print one out on good-quality paper and then slip it into a frame. No color printer? Take an art book from the public library to your local copy shop instead.
A few caveats: Don't download the "Mona Lisa" (everyone will know the original isn't hanging in your living room). "Less famous drawings are a better choice," says Jameson, who used this method to beautify her upstairs hallway with a line of eight botanical prints. If you have a big space to fill, she advises hanging four or six prints in a grid, which will work like one large one.
2. Make your ceiling sparkle
Glue faux jewels from the craft store or pieces of costume jewelry in a pretty pattern around a light fixture on the ceiling. Here's how: Create your pattern on paper first and keep in mind that all your jewels must have one flat side. Test out your design by using a hot glue gun to attach the jewels. (You can just peel them off if you don't like it.) When you're happy with the look, attach the jewels permanently with Liquid Nails adhesive, available at hardware stores.
3. Design new drapes
"Sewing a set of drapes is cheap, and it's not hard to make them look custom-made," says Jameson. For each drape, start with two flat full bed sheets of the same measurements with finished edges. Measure your walls first to see which size sheets will work best. Choose a pattern or solid for the side that will show, and plain white or off-white for the liner. Using a glue gun, attach the sheets back to back. Instead of applying long lines of glue along the edges, place nickel-sized dots every few inches to prevent puckering.
Glue on some contrasting trim or decorative cord along the inner and bottom edges. To hang, simply clip on ring tabs, and you won't have to sew a stitch. Create tiebacks with pieces of the same trim or cord.
4. Update your throw pillows
Add some oomph to your plain throw pillows, and it will look like you have a whole new couch. To keep it simple, glue on some fringy trim around the edges and rim it with decorative cord. If you're more ambitious, try gluing on strips of contrasting fabrics. The key to success: plan and measure, measure, measure.
5. "Build" a new headboard
This is an inexpensive way to boost the look of your bedroom -- and let your creativity run free. At the art supply store or craft store, buy a stretched canvas the width of your bed. Paint your own graphic on it (or just paint it a vibrant solid color) and attach it to the wall. Or buy 16 or 20 12-by-12 canvases, paint them in solid colors and attach them in a checkerboard pattern. Another option is to attach crown molding to the wall in the same shape as a headboard and paste patterned wallpaper in the center space. As Jameson says, "Just use your imagination, and you'll have a new look in no time."
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