Display photos. Have some favorite photos blown
up, pick up some inexpensive frames at a discount store,
and line a wall, says Pickett, who used this trick in
her own office. "Pop them into frames, and it's
the cheapest thing you can do," she says. "They
really do have an impact."
Her secret: Black and white photos are
even more dramatic.
Shine a little light on the subject. "Add
accent lighting, instead of the two ordinary lamps that
flank both ends of the sofa," says Holmes.
A lot of discount and home stores are
stocking inexpensive lighting options that can make
a big difference in a room. Spotlights that plug into
existing outlets can direct light to features you want
to emphasize, such as art or plants.
Houseworth lined a room with track lights,
forming a perimeter about two feet from the walls, and
painted the ceiling within the tracks a different color.
"It looked like a gallery," she says.
Cost: about $400 to $500. Pro tip: Look
for tiny lights, about 2 to 3 inches in diameter, that
can add a nice sparkle.
Or you can pick up on another hot trend
and get a couple of candlestick lamps, says Holmes.
Make rooms instantly more spacious. Go through
your rooms and get rid of one-third of your furniture
and junk, says Irwin. Whether you need a little breathing
room or you're getting ready to sell and move, this
will give you more free space. And it makes it that
much easier for potential buyers to picture their own
furnishings in the home, says Irwin.
Give the yard a good clip. Trim back the trees
and shrubs that block the street view of the house and
especially the windows. A well-groomed yard that lets
light into the home "looks a lot less sinister,"
Create areas of interest in your yard. Start
with one small section and create a focal point. "Small
spaces can become terrific spaces and look much grander
than they are," says Kolls, who advises picturing
the yard as a series of "little rooms." Just
do a piece at a time. Install a birdbath, bird feeder,
arbor or bench with copious amounts of flowers and plants
around it to create a small sanctuary. "You've
got this great look for an inexpensive price,"
Trick the eye. To make an area of the yard look
larger, use curving pathways and sidewalks instead of
straight ones. Curves fool the eye and "make an
area look bigger," says Kolls.
Use everyday objects in new ways. Sometimes the
secret to less-expensive decorating is to look at things
differently. Love had been searching for a set of long,
silver-colored pull handles for a large cabinet, but
everything she found was at least four figures. Then
she spotted exactly what she wanted in a package labeled
"towel bars." Cost: $69.
Looking for a cart to serve as a bar in
a study or dining area? Check out an office-supply retailer
or the office-furniture area of your favorite home store,
says Love. Chances are, the wheeled cart being sold
for a fax machine or computer would also make a stylish
Dana Dratch is
a freelance writer based in Atlanta.
Posted: April 12, 2006