Decorating on a Budget - 15 Easy Steps

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Many years ago I was told that the least expensive way to redecorate is to rearrange what you have. It was one of the best decorating suggestions I’ve ever had-not to mention the one that can be the most fun to implement. How can you beat it? A new room-practically free! You get such a feeling of satisfaction when you accomplish something spectacular using your imagination and what you already have.

Of course, like many suggestions there is a good way to do this and one that isn’t quite so satisfactory. So here’s a step by step.

1. Choose the room you want to give a new look.

2. Decide on the type of change you would like. Do you want it brighter, lighter, more sophisticated, or more casual? Do you want to give it a contemporary flavor or make it a bit exotic?

3. Take a good look at what is in the room and decide what doesn’t fit the new look/theme that you chose. What is worn out, out of place or out of proportion?

4. Assess the room: Stand in each doorway and in each corner of the room and give it a good hard look. Would the furniture look better on an angle? What is the traffic pattern? You don’t want furniture sitting in the way of how you need to move about the room. Most of us can’t afford to have a room that just sits and looks pretty. A well designed room works for you.

5. Make a list of the items you want tokeep and measure them.

6. Take a buying trip through your house and see what you can use from other rooms. One very important suggestion: double check measurements and colors of the pieces you have “bought” from other rooms. If you want to expand a little, there are frequently friends or relatives who have pieces in their homes they would like to get rid of, so if you don’t have quite what you like, check the family cast offs. Note: You might find you need to freshen your walls with a coat of paint or cover a chair or sofa with a slipcover or purchase new lampshades, but expense should be kept at a minimum, or you defeat your purpose.

7. Once you have your look and know what pieces are available to you, put it all on paper. You need to have a plan, because you could lose your ‘willing’ helpers if they have to move a sofa 6 or 7 times to get the right look because you didn’t do your homework. Pay special attention to electrical and cable outlets, heat and air vents and doors and windows. Lighting is important and unless you’re trying the hard way to keep the kids out, you want to be able to get in and out of the room easily and move around comfortably in it.

8. Clear your room. Take the unnecessary pieces and accessories away and put the pieces you want to keep together in another room.

9. It’s time to paint the walls and clean the windows and woodwork if needed. Shampoo carpets, wash floors and make sure your background is sparkling and clean.

10. If there are any small items you are going to need to purchase to complete the look, go do it while everything is drying. DO NOT go shopping without a list. You have your plan and you know what accessories you need to complete your look. The easiest way to get off budget and end up with clutter is to go without a list.

11. When the paint and floors are dry, place rugs on the floor (before you move in the furniture). It is also easier to do window treatments now while the room is empty. They can be adjusted later.

12. Gather your helpers. Move in the larger pieces of furniture. Add your smaller pieces such as tables and ottomans and then bring in the accessories.

13. Lamps are very important, so make sure they are located where they will work the best. Don’t under light your room.

14. Hang your pictures and adjust window treatments.

A note: less is more. An uncluttered room will give a more of an impression of newness then one with too much of everything.

15. Enjoy your new room. In fact throw a party and let everyone admire what you’ve accomplished. You’ll be able to afford it with the money you’ve saved.

Happy decorating!

About the author:

This content for this article was provided by design consultant to ON THE GO 4 U, Suzanne Copenhaver. Suzanne has years of experience dealing with less than perfect home interiors and infrastructures. She provides in-home consultations on color, space, and design and teaches workshops on decorating for ON THE GO 4 U.

Indra A Books, author of many other lifestyle articles is also the owner and founder of ON THE GO 4 U, Personal Shoppers & Concierge Service in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The company’s creed is to provide its clients with the ultimate life management experience. In addition to its shopping and concierge services, ON THE GO 4 U also publishes a monthly e-zine and conducts workshops on wardrobe, entertaining and decorating. For more information about the author and ON THE Go 4 U, please visit

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