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Decorating Secrets: Reuse…Recycle…Redecorate

Creating a Fresh New Look for Free

By Tracey Drake

For most people, home is a place to retreat from the everyday stresses of life. It’s where we go to rejuvenate, and it’s important to have a space that mends the spirit and provides comfort and happiness for those we love. Unfortunately, budgetary constraints may be preventing you from revving up tired spaces, leaving your home in a kind of decorating limbo that’s stale and less than appealing. How to break the rut? Reuse…Recycle…Redecorate!

A Different Perspective

The easiest way to redecorate without spending any money is to simply ‘rethink’ your existing furnishings. Every day, interior designers and home stagers rethink for their clients. What this means is moving furniture, accessories and décor accents from one place to another, and in many cases, from one room to another. It may seem like an overly simplified way to redecorate a home, but you will be truly amazed at how small changes can make a big impact.

Get started by taking a tour of your own home, going into each room with a fresh eye and an open mind. Don’t forget things hidden away in closets, cabinets or in the garage. Create an inventory paying special attention to each piece of furniture, the draperies and area rugs, and accessories such as lamps, vases, artwork, plants, throws and toss pillows. A few helpful hints for successfully integrating your “stuff” might include:

• Measuring: Scale is very important when rearranging items from one part of your home to another. By taking the dimensions of furniture and large scale items like trees and artwork before you move them around, you’ll save on back breaking mistakes.

• Organizing: Put like accessories into one specific area of your home; for example, the lamps all on the dining room table, artwork lined along the walls of the spare room, vases on the kitchen countertops etc. This makes for an easy way to visualize and then “shop” for what you need without having to run all over the house to find things.

• Inspiration: This can be found in decorating magazines, furniture stores and online. Look closely at the shape and scale of the room in the picture, choosing those that best fit your own home design and furnishings. Use the picture as a kind of schematic guide for placing the furniture and accessories in your own space. It’s a great way to gain new perspective and obtain a professional look.

Invite a friend over for an extra set of eyes, muscles and ideas, and get things rolling. Two heads are always better than one, and it helps to have a fresh outlook from those that don’t see your home on a day to day basis.

From This to That

Thinking outside of the box is important when decorating with recycled and repurposed items. Experiment and don’t be afraid to alter the color, shape and purpose of your belongings to create interest and functionality in newfound form.

Furniture Makeovers

Less can be more in a space, especially in the case of an over-furnished master bedroom. Consider moving that oversized highboy dresser to the end or along an empty wall of the upstairs hallway. Properly accessorized with a vase of flowers, family photographs or a sophisticated lamp, it does double duty as an elegant way to store linens or off season clothing. In a tired looking family room, an outdated solid oak coffee table could easily take on a new life in the entry way. With just a few seat cushions on top and baskets beneath to hold homework, backpacks and unsorted mail, what was old is now new, and serving the need for additional storage and clutter concealment.

Fabric from Unexpected Places

Sometimes all a room needs is a touch of texture and color, and the easiest way to accomplish this is by using fabric. Cotton, silk, and linen sheets, thin, chenille bedspreads or duvet covers make fabulous window treatments. For smaller windows, tea towels or placemats make adorable café style curtains for the kitchen or laundry room. Create rod tabs with inexpensive ribbon pinned to the underside of the fabric for a casual, country flair. For larger windows, create a rod pocket by folding fabric over the rod and securing with small safety pins which will not be seen from the front once the panels are adjusted for fullness. Conversely, a window valance makes a perfect table runner for a small dining room or coffee table. Embellish it further by folding the edges to a point and pinning a tassel to hold it in place. When you want to change things up again, no harm no foul to your linens; simply unpin, wash and press, and they’re as good as new for another use.

A Work of Art

You’d be surprised what you can turn into wall art if you put your mind to it. Repurposed, clear DVD or CD cases make for an amazing piece of art when fitted with your personal, digital photos and hung side by side in a large, rectangular grid. Visit www.Ehow.com for instructions to make it. Colorful plates or shallow bowls that may be taking up valuable storage space make a graphic statement when artfully arranged on plate hangers or shelves. Antique quilts and decorative rugs are also great options. When using a number of different items or pictures on your wall, be sure to have an organized design to avoid a cluttered look, and paint all frames the same color for cohesiveness.

Unused, Unloved Paint

Every year, millions of dollars are spent on gallons of paint that end up hidden away on a shelf in the garage.

Check your stash to determine how much paint you have to work with. If you have less than a gallon in a single color, think about painting a single feature wall–perhaps behind the fireplace–to make the hearth a feature of the room. Other options might be to paint outdated or inexpensive accent furniture pieces. Don’t be afraid to use vibrant hues including that seafoam green or barnyard red that wasn’t quite right for the entire room, but would make for a nice pop of color as an accent. Tone down your piece by distressing with fine sandpaper, allowing some of the original wood tones to peek through.

The art of looking beyond a single purpose and seeing the vast possibilities your existing furnishing could have might seem daunting at first. But with a little imagination, a bit of elbow grease and a ton of creative energy, your home can be new again without buying a single item.

Host a Neighborhood Swap Meet

So you’re tired of your own furniture and decorating accents but don’t want to foot the bill for new ones? No worries – host a decorating swap meet!

• Gather your friends, family, and neighbors or post an ad at your community center.

• Invite everyone to bring their unwanted furniture, knick-knacks, accessories, dishes, fabric, draperies and unused paint and building supplies.

• Be sure to make a rule that if someone brings something, they must take something home.

• When the event is over, anything that is left over should be donated to charity. It is a win-win situation.

Remember: One woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure! A do-it-yourself swap meet is a great way to find new pieces for your home without spending any money.

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