Decorating Tips for Tough Economic Times

PHOTO CAPS:
Before: Before applying wall mural.
After: Dolphins Paradise mural available at Lowe's for under $100.



Decorating Tips for Tough Economic Times

Your dĒcor leaves you uninspired, yet the current economy makes you hesitate to spend a bundle on a total redesign. You don't need the skill - or budget - of a TV decorating diva to give your home a fresh new look. Small, inexpensive changes can make a dramatic difference.
Here are some ideas to transform your room for less than $100:
Lighten Up
The type and placement of lighting can completely change the look of a room and create different moods. Most of us stick with light fixtures that were in our homes when we bought them. Those aren't always the most attractive or illuminating options.
Overhead lighting - the kind that comes installed in most new homes - can be great if you're quilting, but might not set the mood for more relaxing moments. Supplement your overhead lighting with lamps strategically positioned around the room. Light cast from the side, rather than from above, will create a cozy, homey feel. Four $25 lamps purchased at a discount store can make your room feel like a million dollars.
Create with Color
Repainting in this season's hot colors can give a room a contemporary, trendy look - even if you don't update any of your furniture. Or, opt for more classic colors that will still be in style for years to come. Whatever color you choose, repainting is a powerful way to make a room feel fresh and new.
You don't have to stop with simple painting. Many home improvement stores offer free classes on decorative painting techniques and the use of color. Total cost of doing a decorative sponge effect in your powder room? About $26 for a gallon of paint, and another $25 for sponges and paint trays.
Make it Better with Murals
Wallpapering an entire room is a big commitment, but you're still not content with just repainting a room. You want something that's going to make the dĒcor pop - without busting your budget. Wallpaper murals are a great compromise. You can find images to match virtually any dĒcor - from an underwater scene for a kid's room to the view from the verandah of a Tuscan Villa for your kitchen.
Home improvement store Lowe's carries a variety of these easy-to-install wallpaper murals by Environmental Graphics, for less than $100. You can find a style and size to fit in nearly any room. To find a Lowe's near you visit www.lowes.com.
Accessorize your Bath
Americans tend to spend their at-home hours in the kitchen. But the next-most-used room is the bath. If walking into your bathroom feels like walking into a bad thrift store - nothing matches and toiletries everywhere - it may be time to spend a few dollars and take control.
It's easy and not costly to replace mismatched accessories such as toothbrush holders, cups and lotion dispensers with ones in the same design. Major retailers and home specialty stores carry a wide array of patterns to appeal to virtually every taste. A full set can easily be bought for less than $100.
If you're willing to be a "big spender," you can also pick up shower curtains and window treatments to compliment your new all-matching accessories.
Go Green and Get Moving
Nothing says "home" like green plants. You don't need a green thumb to green up your living space. Opt for low-maintenance live varieties like a philodendron or pothos. Or, if you just can't keep plants alive, consider artificial. Many modern artificial plants duplicate the look of life so well only the aphids who try to eat them can tell the difference.
Place tall palms next to chairs and windows to bring the outdoors inside. Smaller plants are marvelous accents for tables, shelves and windowsills. And a hanging basket with cascading leaves will add drama to large entryways.
Finally, don't think you need to replace your furniture to make it work in your new room dĒcor. Sometimes simply moving it around is enough to create a new effect that will please you and work well in your room.