Ways To Use Creativity When It Comes to Decorating On A Dime
paint_cans1If you want a fresh and new look, putting color on the walls is the most dramatic way to do so. Paint is the least expensive investment you can make. Simply changing the color of paint in a room can change the whole feel of it.

Do It Yourself
Why hire people to do things that you can do? If you can paint, tile or sew, you will save considerable amounts. It’s also easy to learn how to do a lot of simple projects by finding information on the internet. Lots of home improvements stores also have classes on such things as installing floors. Take advantage of free education.

Don’t be shy about asking relatives, friends and neighbors to pitch in and help. You can have a “painting party”, an “assemble-some-furniture barbecue”, a “sew-some-throw-pillows brunch”…. anything you can create to turn a work project into some fun. In most instances, if you offer free food and drink, you can use other peoples’ home improvement know-how in exchange for helping them in the future.

Shop Secondhand
Garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores, consignment shops, church rummage sales and online auction sites can save you a lot in your decorating efforts. Lots of times, something might just need some new paint, a new light kit or just minor repairs to turn someone else’s trash into your treasure. If you’re doing bigger remodeling projects, check out salvage yards for really big discounts on your needed supplies.

Look for Less-Than-Perfect Merchandise
Check stores’ clearance items, “as is” items and ask about discounts on floor models. If you need several of an item (several wall sconces, for instance), ask to speak to the manager about a bulk discount. Sometimes returned goods won’t be put back out on the shelves just because the packaging is open. Nothing is wrong with the item at all. Maybe the customer thought it was one thing and opened it, realizing it’s not what they wanted, so they’ve returned it. It never hurts to ask. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Or SAVED in this case!

Save With In-Stock Items
Never mind that the store doesn’t have your dream sofa in the fabric you love unless you pay a bundle to have it ordered that way. A plain sofa can always be spruced up by making colorful throw pillows. Most times you can order yardage from the manufacturer. Better yet, check out your fabric warehouses for cheaper alternatives. Have a picture that you just absolutely love? Thinking about having it custom framed to make it a prized possession? Think again. Buy ready-made frames and mats and cut away any non-essential outside areas of the print. You’ll be surprised at the results. Keep this process in mind also when buying window blinds. Look on the back of the package to see how easily they can be cut down to fit your window. Another alternative would be to mount them on the outside instead of the inside of your windows. Those cheap bookcases that you can buy in almost any super store can be made to look more custom buy putting button legs on the bottom and putting molding around the top. Just paint or stain all the same color and it will look like a custom piece.

Wait Patiently for Sales and Discounts
We all have our crazy schedules and scheduling time to do projects is becoming more and more difficult. So you’ve planned your project and have everything mapped out. You find out that something that you really want is just not within your budget. Find out from store and department store managers if they’re going to have any inventory or any other kind of sales coming up soon. If you explain to them that you’ve taken a week off to do this project, you can ask if they’ll give you the discounted price ahead of time…… especially with the promise of repeat business with your other ongoing projects.

Mix, Don’t Match
So you got your grandmother’s beloved dining room set. It’s not only got sentimental value but she really took good care of it. Using the whole set in your décor though, is just too dated. Think about changing out the chairs. You’ll still have the memories of the table but don’t feel obligated to keep the whole set. Even the newer chairs can be 4 of one kind, using 2 on each side and then the two header chairs could be something different. You can pull them all together by painting or staining them the same and then upholstering the seats with the same fabric. If you have a more country style, even each chair can be of a different style and color. It makes things more interesting by mixing it up a bit. Too much matching can actually make a space look too formal and boring. Most people think a room also has to have all the same wood tones. Not true. Bed tables don’t have to match. End tables don’t have to match. Nothing HAS to match!

Sew With Sheets
If you have a sewing machine or know someone that does, you can quickly and easily transform sheets and pillow cases into all kinds of decorating. Take advantage of the elastic used on the fitted sheets to make covers for stools or unique balloon curtains. Flat sheets can be made into curtain panels, pillow and duvet covers for your bedroom. Tablecloths, napkins, placemats and café curtains could be made for your kitchen. Instead of expensive upholstering projects, try using them to make slipcovers instead. This is a cheaper way than buying fabric for these projects. Depending on where you are using them, keep in mind that you might need to put an extra layer of fabric though. You can use a sheet for that as well. Again, lots of instructions for these projects can be found on the internet. If you don’t know how to sew, this would be a great opportunity to learn or invite friends over and have a girls’ day sewing on the projects. Make them a brunch!

Add Unusual Accessories
Design remixing is a great way to use some of your most prized items in different ways. I’m sure we all have bucket loads of seashells on our trips to the beach. Group them together in a glass dish and put a center item in it to make a display. An arrangement could also be made out of a basket of shells with a book about seashells inside the basket. Placed along with other natural elements, such as cat tails, this would make an eye-catching vignette. Even placed inside a decanter meant for flour or sugar and placing on a bathroom counter is a great way to reuse usual items for unusual arrangements. You can also use your collection of larger seashells or even pine cones in your plants. Again, the natural items being placed with like items is a clever way to bring back memories of family vacations. If you have a favorite lamp that you’d like to use but it’s a bit too short for where you’d like to place it, try stacking books underneath it to raise the height. It not only corrects the height problem but also adds more visual interest. Having a Christmas dinner but have no centerpiece? Try using alternate red and green apples hulled out big enough to hold a tealight candle. Surround with sprigs of pine and you’ve got your Christmas colors! Let your imagination run wild and you can come up with all kinds of ideas. Designing on a dime will always get you more compliments than store-bought items.

Reuse Existing Items
Make your budget stretch even further by using your imagination. Instead of buying new pieces, rethink what you already have. It just makes more decorating sense saving you decorating cents! Using paint to completely redo an old piece, re-staining it, dry brushing it or crackling it can give you a fresh look. The story in this site about the couple that moved from their Texas home to their Colorado townhouse have this one sentimental piece that they’ve used in several ways. It’s an old small dresser with some detailed carvings given to them about 30 years ago. That piece hasn’t been touched by paint yet has had several uses in all those years. First, it was a baby dresser for their two children. After the children outgrew it, it next became an entryway piece to house gloves and hats in one drawer, shoes in the second one and outdoor items such as a basketball, football, frisbees, etc. in the bottom drawer. It became a small sideboard for their dining room in their next house in the Dallas area. Upon moving to their townhouse in Colorado, it housed the woman’s fabrics for her sewing projects. And the most recent use has been in the guest bedroom for visitors. Pretty good for free, right? But even if purchased, this is an example of implementing free style while keeping money in your pockets. Plain pillows can be turned into wonderful accents by adding buttons, fringes and other trim pieces or simply tying a scarf or scrap of fabric onto the middle of them. Even an old sweater that has gone out of style can be cut, sewn across the bottom, wrapping and tacking the arms around the backside can make a wonderful transformation of new pillows you got on sale or old ones that just need a lift. Going through jewelry boxes and your drawers of clothing will give you a whole new perspective on redecorating.

So the in-laws called and are coming next weekend. Your old high school friend is dropping by for a day on her trip through town. That’s certainly not enough time to tackle a big project on your house but here are some suggestions for small projects with big impact.

candles_78601. Candles. With all the sizes and scents, you can use these on a plate/charger from your kitchen for a coffee table or dining room centerpiece. If it’s not the season to use your fireplace, add these onto a mirror to give a warm glow. Groupings can be added on top of mantels. Don’t forget about the spare bedroom and bathrooms too.

2. Candlesticks. Remember. Mixing styles always creates more interest than matchy-matchy. This goes for candlesticks as well. So group all your crystal ones together on top of your mantel. This is another idea for your coffee table or dining room table.

3. Paint. If you have enough time, paint at least one accent wall in your living room or dining room. Choose artwork to really make it “pop”. Also think of small furniture projects. The small desk that you wanted for your guest room could really use a makeover so why not use cheap paint? Stencils can add that special touch of whimsy.

4. Window coverings. Go out and hit clearance sales or the discount retail stores. Microsuede is a fabric that looks rich, resists stains and adds elegance to any room. Remember to hang them wider and higher than the actual window to make them look bigger. Even a simple valance will make a difference.

5. Rugs. For a simple flooring solution, rugs are a great economic solution. You might not have time to order and install new carpet or wood floors. Define areas and cover a multitude of problem areas with fresh, brightly colored rugs.

towels16. Towels. Nothing says makeover in a bathroom like new towels. They are available anywhere in any kind of price range. The selections of colors and prints will add to any décor and make a tired-looking bathroom feel fresher.

7. Accessories. The right choice in accessories makes the difference between something looking hodge-podge and really put together. Group family photos on a piano or sofa table. Add a candle for illumination. Different frames don’t matter but try to have them all be of one type, such as wood or silver. Pull out some books from your bookshelf and put some fresh flowers in a vase on top. Use your imagination with what you already have in your house but look at them with a whole new eye to create a new look.

uplight-plant18. Up-lights/plants. Even grocery stores these days sell nice, healthy plants inexpensively. Buy a couple of these and if you place them in a corner behind a piece of furniture, then place an up-light behind it to create shadows on a wall. This way you don’t have to worry about a new pot until after your guests leave, as the ones they come in aren’t meant to be permanent homes for the plants. These will add life, color and texture to your room.

9. Vinyl floor tiles. If you have a whole weekend before your guests arrive, take one day to lay new vinyl floor tiles in your kitchen or bathroom. The peel-and-stick kind give you a lot of choices and are easy to install. There are lots that even look like real tile. Be sure to install according to manufacturer’s directions, first finding the center of your floor and working outward toward the edges. It will make all the difference in the look of the finished product.

slipcover110. Slipcovers. Of course, you don’t want to go out and buy new furniture. Maybe your furniture just needs cleaned, not changed out. You can clean it or if you aren’t going to have time to do that and allow drying time, try slipcovers. These are easy, inexpensive solutions for tired-looking pieces. They are readily available in all types of retail stores. Better yet, keep them on hand anyway for summertime. With SPF lotions and sweat from outdoor activities, using these during that season is a great idea since all you have to do is throw them in the washer rather than cleaning your furniture.

1. Lighting creates a mood. The look of a room can go from restful to romantic just by changing to lower-wattage bulbs.

2. Remnant fabric tables. Fabric stores have tables with remnants that are great for recovering pillows, adding to draperies, recovering lampshades and all kinds of other projects around the house. They are bargain priced for the same quality fabric.

3. Greenery adds life. You’ll feel more alive when you have plants in any room. They not only look great but they also help purify the air. Plants also last longer than flowers. If you take a single leaf and add it to a tall vase, it makes a dramatic design statement as well. Herbs are also a great selection for a multi-purpose green effect in your kitchen.

4. Make floors a focus. Floors need your attention as much as walls. Wood floors can be sanded and stained. Tile can be a replacement for old linoleum or carpet. If your budget won’t allow for such or you need a quick fix, use a floor rug. The selections for these are endless. Your room will look more put together and everything will stand out better by decorating the floors along with the rest of the room.

5. Storage solutions. Take advantage of horizontal space or unseen space for storage in small places. Bookshelves can go all the way to the ceiling. Trunks can be used as coffee tables or end tables. Space underneath your bed can be filled with out-of-season clothing in small containers on wheels. Use your imagination!

6. Fabric can tie a room together. By combining patterns, styles and different textures of fabric, your room will look more cohesive. Use the same fabric for throw pillows on the couch as well as cushions on a hearth and you’ll create a custom look.

7. Add depth and dimension to walls. Fake architectural detail can be created in a variety of ways. Using molding is one option. Another option is to tape vertical or horizontal lines to create the illusion of space. Try painting a block of color on a wall and hanging your favorite picture in it. Or paint smaller ones and hang your sconces on either side of the fireplace. Now you’ve created more interest in those details. Use molding to make a box and place a cherished piece of pottery inside. You’ll be amazed at how much emphasis will be brought to these items while filling in your walls.

8. Purchase substantial, timeless furniture pieces. Once you’ve invested in major furniture purchases that can be used with any type of décor, it will be easy to change your style as time goes on. Don’t buy the whole living room suite off the show room floor. Mix and match for more interest and greater diversity.

9. Don’t throw it away: Refurbish. Before you get rid of something, consider simple fixes. There are inexpensive solutions to salvage almost anything. Breathe new life into leather furniture by rubbing a little olive oil on it. Use a scratch cover product to get rid of dings on wood pieces. Recover dining room chairs with new fabric. Use a sliced almond to get rid of scratches on your wood floor. Also think of ways to repurpose items. A hand-me-down wood dining room table can make a great desk. The possibilities are endless!

10. Go bargain shopping. Estate, moving and garage sales are a great source to turn someone else’s trash into your treasure! Great deals for every room in your home are right at your fingertips via the internet. You can go to surplus sites, auction sites and store catalog sites and shop to your heart’s content for bargains without spending a dime on gas!

1. Use what you already own. Everyone has favorite pieces they’ve collected over the years. Inexpensive decorating starts by refurbishing existing pieces.

2. Any piece of furniture can be transformed. By simply sanding down older pieces of furniture and putting a primer on them before painting them, you can change the whole look of the piece. Look at a piece you’re tired of or one you have your eye on at a garage sale in a whole new light. You’ll be surprised at the end results!

3. Shop classified ads, catalogs and online. With the convenience of the internet today, just about anything can be found sitting at your desk. There’s no gasoline expenditures so that’s even an added bonus! People moving that just want to get rid of things can offer great deals. Catalogs often offer free shipping or clearance prices. Online auction sites or closeout sites are also a great way to save money.

4. Sew what? Just about anything you can imagine! If you don’t know how to sew, it might be worth it for you to learn. If you have absolutely no interest in that, maybe you can trade out skills with someone who does know how to you’re your options are endless due to the vast array of fabrics available. Drapery, bedding and pillows can be expensive. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save making them yourself.

5. Choosing paint colors. Some people always want to feel “safe” in their color choices. But if you go out of your comfort zone and choose a color that is one shade darker or bolder than what you’d usually pick, you will probably be pleasantly surprised! After all, it’s just paint. You can always redo it if you don’t like it.

6. Multi purpose furniture. There are a multitude of ideas for furniture pieces that can take on multiple roles out there. You can find square coffee tables that have 4 small ottomans underneath for extra seating. There are ottomans that double as coffee tables that also flip open for extra storage. One option is a combination end table/magazine rack/lamp available at one of the larger retail stores. All of these are great ideas for saving space.

7. Pulling furniture off the wall. If you have the space to do this, you can add more interest and divide use of space more efficiently. Placing a sofa table behind a sofa with a lamp on it will not only provide more lighting in the room but also give the people on the sofa a place to put their drinks if there’s no room for a coffee table.

8. Don’t be matchy-matchy. Mixing pieces creates more interest and is a lot more fun than buying a matching living room or bedroom set. This way, you can use pieces you already have, use grandma’s vintage coffee table and save money. One-stop shopping is tempting, but to personalize your space, it’s best to mix and match pieces.

9. Creating illusions with draperies. If you hang your drapery panels wider and higher than the actual dimensions of the window, you will make your room feel larger and more grand by creating the illusion of a bigger window. You can also make two smaller windows feel like one large one by hanging a panel in between the two windows.

10. Keep your walls and furniture neutral. This is the most economical way to change your look on a regular basis. Decorating styles are like fashion. They will change over the years. You can bet that the room you’ve worked so hard to make perfect will be outdated in about 5 years. So to keep up with the times, keeping your walls and furniture a neutral color is the best route to go. You can change out your punches of color with pillows, candles, artwork and accessories Whites, grays, blacks and beiges are the good standards to consider.

1. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Paint your front door and put on a new doorbell cover or knocker. Install a new door knob and kick plate. This will make all the difference.

2. Use vibrant colors on your walls. Taking cue from vibrant summer flowers, use these in at least one room in your house. Great choices are soft blues, vibrant greens and muted yellows. This will refresh and rejuvenate your home.

3. Change out fabrics. Either way you want to go, you can lighten up a room or warm it by the fabrics you choose. Choose white, bright solids or floral patterns for spring or summer or if you want a lighter feel in a room. Use darker, richer jewel tones for fall or winter or if you want a warmer feel in a room.Use a slipcover on the couch depending on the season. Throw pillows are inexpensive to buy and even cheaper to recover. Drapes can also be changed out.

4. Simple, beach themes. All those souvenirs you’ve brought back from your summer beach trips can be put to good use. Pick some of the prettier seashells and put around groupings of family pictures from those trips. Introduce nautical colors (blues and whites) into the room in pillows and picture frames. Use a clamshell as your dining room table centerpiece. If you haven’t been to the beach, online and catalog services are a great resource for these. Creativity is key.

5. Spruce up your kitchen cabinets. If they are just dirty, clean them with a wood cleaner and then use an orange spray product to put some shine back into them without having to re-stain or polyurethane them. If they are outdated, you can paint them and update the hardware. For more of a streamed-line look, remove the doors and trim out the edges.

6. Make an old ceiling fan more attractive. First of all, nothing is worse than seeing dust on a ceiling fan. It’s overhead so it’s going to fall on people or worse yet, on food. You can paint the old blades to match your décor or trade them out without having to replace the whole unit.

7. Quick makeover:declutter. In summer, store away your throws in the living room and your heavy blankets on your beds. You won’t be using all of your fireplace tools, so take those to storage as well. Minimize your knick knacks. Make sure your countertops and desk areas are clutter free. With less in your spaces, your house will appear to be larger and brighter.

8. Double the light. Mirrors in spaces have often been a trick-of-the-trade to double the illusion of light and space. Be careful where you place it though. You don’t want to double a reflection of the kitchen or some other space that will be messy at times. The best strategic placement of a mirror is where it can reflect natural light.

9. Use the garage for extra living space. Whatever your hobbies are, you can create a party atmosphere even if you don’t have an extra room dedicated for such. Clean out the garage, paint the walls and enjoy this bonus space. You can create home theaters, gyms, game rooms or computer rooms. You soon will be the most popular house on the block. So have some friends over and have a party!

10. Going green: Not literally, but with all the hype on recycling, this is just another way you can contribute to the cause. By using old furniture, frames or just about anything, you can refurbish it by repainting it for a new look or recycling it by using it in another part of your home. Give to another friend who’s decorating. They’ll love that it’s free!

As published in the Summer, 2008 issue of Bratz magazine, published in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Being creative with space is the main ingredient to establishing living space in dorm rooms or teenager rooms. With maturity, the rooms are not only a place to sleep now but also to entertain friends. A hang-out atmosphere is very important in the social aspect. It’s time for toys and stuffed animals to be replaced with cool and hip interactive and entertaining items.

Storage and stacking are the two elements to keep in mind as you put your plans into motion. Using empty suitcases under beds for storage solves two problems in a dorm room. Everything that is being brought there has to be brought in something. That could mean trying to find a place to put the carriers unless you think ahead. A shopping trip to an organizer store will give you all kinds of great solutions. They have everything from collapsible folding mesh cubes to wire storage racks. You can also bring clothes in under-the-bed roll-out storage bins. Trunks can be used for transport as well as either extra seating at the bottom of a bed or set on its end for a night stand.

Horizontal space is very important to not ignore in the use of space in small rooms. Anything that can be stacked vertically inside of a closet is a clever idea. Storing heavier blankets that you don’t need in the summer and off-season clothes are some of the ways you can take advantage of this. Crates turned on their sides for easy access to these items is a cost effective solution. Hanging shoe racks that can be put over closet rods are a great storage solution also. They also have over-the-door ones. Hanging cloth shelves can be used for purse storage or lighter weight items. Traveling hanging zippered pocket items can be used to store jewelry, make up or hygiene items. Multiple slack hangers can save up valuable rod space. Rolls of cork can be bought and put up on the backside of closet doors with double-sided sticky tape for a bulletin board for pictures or notes.

Crates can also be turned into a make-shift entertainment area. A small TV can sit on the top with the open crates being used for books, DVD’s or video games. If floor space is really at a premium, wall mount units for TV’s are also an economical option.

Two twin beds in a dorm room can be turned into a loft feel by raising them off of the floor. Something can be built ahead of time to accomplish this or you can use desks or dressers. You can also buy bed risers as an alternative. Then there is an open area that can be used for studying underneath. When raising the beds off of the floor, there should also be room to put a chair or lounger for extra seating for guests. Bean bags work well in this scenario as well.

Don’t forget about storage solutions for the desk area too. Letter sorters and other options can be found at large retail or office supply stores. If you are using a desk top computer instead of a laptop, you can save surface area by placing your keyboard in the pull-out drawer of the desk. Wall mounted magazine storage units can be a great source for keeping notebooks in and keep valuable desk space available.

Since these rooms are also used for entertaining friends, a cohesive feeling can be attained by using some kind of theme in the room. Using hobbies and interests, find a common denominator (especially in shared rooms) that can bring about a sense of style to the room. Choosing solid colors instead of a theme can help take the sting out of clashing styles if you can’t come to an agreement on the décor. Use guitars as art by mounting them on the wall as art, using guitar wall hangers. If the interest is photography, make focal points and topics of discussion by matting, framing and hanging personal pieces of their works. Surfboards and snowboards can also be fun and great conversation starters.

Lighting in these areas is also a challenge. Floor lamps and desk lamps can only do so much. A lot of times all that is provided are the over-head ceiling fixtures. Since candles are a no-no, string lights can create some atmosphere placed around the bottom of the raised bed frame. White is the best choice for this.

Most college dorm rooms these days include small microwaves and refrigerators but no storage space for snacks and a few dishes. Stack the microwave and refrigerator on top of one another. Then mount a two-shelf unit above it for these items. You can get ones that have adhesive backing on them and even ones made to be put in a corner to save space.

Visiting the dorm room and communicating with your soon-to-be roommate is an invaluable suggestion in planning the space. That way, you will find out what is furnished and what you will need to bring. Some spaces will have built-in storage. Other spaces might have little or no storage at all.

With some planning and organization, creating a living space for a teenager’s room or dorm room can be a fun experience. Just remember that using your imagination is the key to its success.

If your rooms are organized and simple to use, your life will feel easier. Below are 10 easy steps to organize your kitchen, office or any room in your house. They will make your family life flow more smoothly.

1. Go through everything in each cabinet and drawer. Mark boxes or have separate areas on the floor for “keep”, “donate”, “trash” or “move”. Keep only those items which are absolutely essential. Donate items that are still in good shape but are not frequently used or duplicate items. Throw away broken items. Be ruthless and try to detach yourself from the memories of the items. You will STILL have the memory and don’t need a memento for every single occasion or milestone. Storage space is usually at a minimum, so keep only those things that you use and love.

2. Consider the best use of space in your cabinets and drawers once they are empty. Think about your flow in the space for working. Things that are only occasionally should be stored in upper cabinets and the backs of drawers. Items for certain tasks should be stored together (i.e., baking items, mail supplies, etc.).

3. Decide where each group of items should be stored. Think about how to cut down the number of steps you take going back and forth to do a certain task. Create a flow during the process. Store the items accordingly.

4. Use containers inside your cabinets. Rolling clear-drawer cabinets are great for knowing what you have. Group like-items together (i.e., different sizes of envelopes, sauce and gravy mixes, etc.).

5. Anything that has more than one item to do a task should be stored together. Store pot lids with the pot or pan they match in size to save time when you need to use it. Make a coffee station in your kitchen underneath the coffee cups. Make sure there are coffee filters in the cabinet, along with non-dairy creamers and the actual coffee. Use stackable desk trays to store each kind of paper in a different one.

6. Use vertical space. Place hooks or storage racks on the back of doors and cabinets. This will free up a lot of counter or desk space. Any free wall space can store anything from spices in your kitchen to instruction manuals in your office. A pot rack in the kitchen works well for freeing up cabinet space. However, any space you can use to store something behind doors will make a room look less cluttered.

7. To hold things such as oils, vinegars, spices, etc. in the kitchen or stapler, tape dispenser, paper clips, etc. in the office, use lazy susans. They can be used on countertops, inside cabinets, on desks or storage closets.

8. For junk or utensil drawers, use inexpensive silverware trays. The divisions make it easier to find something when you need it. Each item has its own place instead of having an overfilled drawer. Organizing not only looks better; it also saves precious time.

9. Even though keeping things off of the front of your refrigerator or filing cabinets makes it look less cluttered, you CAN use the sides. Keep a notepad and pen on these to make handy notes or grocery lists. Using the sides is a lot less noticeable than walking into the room and seeing a lot of papers, etc. on these items.

10. Save time by keeping extra trash bags in the bottoms of all your trash cans. This saves a lot of time. Refill the extras about once a month. While you’re getting ready to take your trash out for pick-up, go through your refrigerator and file drawers and see what can be tossed out. Keeping your life rid of unwanted items, keeps it more simple and easier to manage. Also, don’t bring in your mail and set it down. It has a tendency to pile up that way. Sort through it RIGHT at the trash can and immediately toss out junk mail and whatever else you don’t need to keep. Don’t forget to shred appropriate documents or blank applications for protection of privacy and credit ratings.

The purpose of all of these suggestions is to fit your personal work style which will better serve your needs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Decluttering and organizing your work spaces such as your kitchen, office and laundry room is an investiment of time and energy that will pay off for years to come in happiness.

Think outside the box when it comes to choosing colors for your apartment/condo/small room.
small_room1Most people think that an all-white apartment looks bigger. This is completely false.

Also a misconception is that less furniture has the same effect. An inviting space can be created when you place your furnishings carefully and pick a stylish color. Your rooms can look like they came right out of magazines.

There really are no rules for choosing colors for a small space. Having accent walls or just personalizing the space is a goal to turn your apartment into a unique living sanctuary. Below are some tricks of the trade.

Paint Sharp Colors
You can expand a space by choosing sharper colors as opposed to duller ones. Leave plenty of open space in between the colors so the eye can rest. This will create openness in the space.

Paint Unexpected Accents
Splashes of color can be made to an alcove, nook, entryway or the inside part of the window frame for excitement. Standard features such as a built-in bookshelf can be made more of a focal piece by painting the backside only your favorite color. Radiators can be turned from a trouble spot into a great feature by paint as well. Silver or a stainless paint will make it pop. Then try laying a piece of slate over it and make it into a fabulous focal point. Accent walls and features can create more spaciousness in a small space.

Paint a Focal Wall
focalwall1The jury is out on painting one wall in a room a different color. Some designers don’t like it; others swear by it. Darker colors make walls recede so this creates the illusion of a larger space.

Shades of Color Can Connect Spaces
When you’re using different colors to define work areas in your apartment, also think about how shade of the same color can connect the apartment as a whole. Picking one color and repeating it in your accent pieces such as a pillow or lampshade will create a cohesive space. Use leftover paint thinned with a bit of white to put on a mirror or a picture frame to echo the main shade.

Think Spicy in the Kitchen
Just as some designers say to look in your wardrobe and using the same thought processes to put together an ensemble, use the same in choosing colors, do the same in the kitchen. Look in your spice cabinet. Cayenne pepper, oregano and dried mustard spice up your foods, so why not use those to add boldness to your kitchen? Using your dishes or a favorite tablecloth can also be good inspirations.

Bold Bathrooms
Instead of those pretty pastels in your bathroom, think bold! If it’s just one accent wall or the whole thing, using bold colors can create more of an effect. The new metallic paints are really great choices for these rooms. Use your seashells and sea glass as accents and choose a green or blue metallic paint with a crisp white shelf mounted on the wall with your treasures. Solids are fine too. Do the unexpected!

Glam It Up
glam_room1 Small spaces lend themselves to using your imagination to add character. Most of them are generic and to get that “wow” factor, there are some terrific ideas you can use. First of all, to undo a “bowling alley” effect that occurs a lot of times from entering the space and then following into the living room, break that one wall into several areas. First, use a beautiful, bold faux finish or specialty technique on the whole wall. Use a wall coat rack and shelf to define the entry area. Use a large, decorative clock on the wall in the dining space. Try using a large plant to divide the dining area from the living area. You’ve created a uniformity with the wall technique but then made all of these areas their own “room”. This will expand the appearance of the space.

To-Go Color
Lots of landlords will not allow you to paint. So try adding color in different ways that you can take with you when you move. Paint is cheap and a little goes a long way. Dry brush an old wood table, paint a free-standing bookshelf or bring out the inner artist and paint a canvas. A color dominant abstract to coordinate with things you will have for a long time like your sofa is a great way to get personality and create a topic of conversation.

Stretch It With Color
Painting the ceiling a lighter color than the walls makes a room seem airier. It draws the eye up and seems like the outdoors. If you have tall walls, bringing that color down onto the walls will make the walls not seem as daunting. If you wish, put chair railing at the bottom of where you stop the paint line (usually 12-14”). If you have low ceilings, do the opposite. Create taller walls by painting stripes.

Always Have Black
One basic rule for the grounding of every room is to have at least one object that is black. This gives the other colors you’ve used in your room more significance. So to give your room more of a designer feel, use this trick.

Color Samples

fan_deck Consider these options before painting the whole room or apartment:

  • Many paint companies offer 2-ounce samples. This should give you a good idea of what your choice will look like. It will cover a 1’ X 2’ area. Make sure to look at it during all times of day. Morning like will vary from afternoon light which will vary from night time artificial light.
  • Use a color wheel or information on what colors will match the mood of the space.
  • You can mix colors or match colors. This will depend on your personality. Be sure to bring photos of your apartment with you so you can visualize the color better in the room.
  • Storage & stacking
    January 1, 2010 | 12:24 pm

    1415_diamondstackStorage & stacking are the two elements to keep in mind when redoing a teenager’s room or creating a dorm room. Visit organizer stores for great solutions. Use trunks & suitcases as storage and end/coffee tables. Being creative is the key ingredient in establishing these cool, hang-out living spaces.

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