By Elizabeth Brownfield
Redecorating a room is one of the best ways to breathe new life into your surroundings — and help you feel more energized. But the word “redecorate” can be intimidating; dollar signs start popping into your head, as does your packed schedule, leaving you wondering where you’ll find the time or money.
Fortunately, you can redecorate on a budget — one of money and time. There are plenty of easy, cheap and quick things you can do to change a space, says Stacey McGarity, a partner in the interior design firm Acquisitions for the Home in New York City. Check out her low-cost, high-impact decorating strategies:
1. Embrace Accessories
“Swapping out items like decorative pillows and a vase can transform the look and feel of any room in five minutes,” McGarity says. A new or different rug also achieves that fresh feeling.
Keep the old items on hand and you’ll swap them in mid-year to create two seasonal looks. Pillow covers versus new pillows help keep costs down, and not using the same rug year-round means both last twice as long. For warmer months, try a sisal rug and cotton pillows. When the temperature drops, go for a darker, patterned rug and pillow covers in lush velvet.
2. Rethink Artwork
Pictures and paintings aren’t the only things you can hang. “Think outside of the box,” says McGarity. Your basement, garage and closets are a treasure trove. Postcards, snapshots, kids’ drawings, posters and even wallpaper and fabric scraps can all be cut and put into inexpensive frames and hung together to create a quirky personal home gallery.
Or, if you find a large fabric remnant, consider making it into a wall hanging by hemming it and sewing in a rod pocket. “You can do it yourself with a sewing machine, but a tailor charges only about $10,” says McGarity.
3. Use Your Library
Take a few of your coolest books off the shelves and incorporate them into your décor. Gather ones with similarly colored jackets or focus them on a theme, such as travel (try mixing a guidebook, an Italian cookbook, a photography book of Alaska and your copy of Eat, Pray, Love together). They’ll look great stacked on a table or tall piece of furniture.
Another tip: Purchase an inexpensive tabletop easel at a craft store and use it to display a beautiful open book, McGarity says. You can change up the look by swapping in a different book.
4. Create an Accent Wall
Painting or wallpapering an entire room is a pricey undertaking. Instead, do just one wall to create a focal point. It makes the whole room pop — and you only do a quarter of the work!
Which wall should you choose? “Usually the longest in the room, but it could also be the one lined with all furniture,” says McGarity. “In general, though, you won’t go wrong with the one that feels the most blank.”
To select the right paint, pick a shade that’s in nearby furniture or other décor. “If you love the gray upholstery on a chair, for example, paint the wall behind it a lighter shade of gray,” says McGarity. If you’re decorating with wallpaper, small rooms like bathrooms, foyers and mud rooms often produce the best results. Also consider inexpensive vinyl wallpaper. It’s twice the width of regular rolls, making it a cinch to hang. Plus, vinyl is durable and easy to clean. “For a small amount of money, you can make it the coolest room in the house,” says McGarity.
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