smart spending

Save on new home decor by dyeing curtains

Furnishing your new home doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, you can modify things you already have to fit whatever style or colors you have in mind for your new house. That's what this month's Frugal $ense winner, Heidi McIntyre of Canonsburg, Pa., did.

August's Frugal $ense winner: Heidi McIntyre
Heidi McIntyre, of Canonsburg, Pa., won $100 for submitting the following tip:

Redecorate on a budget
"This could work for redecorating or, in my case, for moving into a new home. Instead of buying new curtains for the entire house, which is too pricey, I took the curtains I already had -- which were sturdy, plain cream-colored and 100 percent cotton -- and bought a bottle of RIT Dye for $5.99 and changed the color to navy blue. Voila! Brand-new look and brand-new curtains for under $6!"

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Bankrate: Tell me a little about yourself.

Heidi McIntyre: Basically, we were renting a home. (I've never owned a home.) And we decided to buy a new home. We're actually expecting a baby -- I'm due on Sunday (Aug. 23) -- so everything happened all at once. So we moved into our home about ... I think this weekend will be three weeks. I'm trying to get the house together and get ready for the baby and that's it.

Bankrate: How did you come up with this idea?

Heidi McIntyre: Well, I knew since we were having a baby and we were moving into a new home, I would have to do everything in my power to make a nice home as frugally as possible, basically. So, I kind of looked around at everything I had in my old home, and I wanted to change my style a little bit. But I found old curtains in the back of a closet and I thought I could definitely do something with them. But I didn't like the color of them; they didn't match anything that was in my mind. So I started looking on the Internet at things I could do, and I came across the RIT Dye Web site. So I thought, "Well, I could do that. That looks easy enough." So I took cream curtains and I dyed them blue and they look like I bought them from JCPenney. They're gorgeous.

Bankrate: How long does it take to dye the curtains and get them back up?

Heidi McIntyre: It only takes a few hours. I didn't time it from start to finish. I did the wash version of it. So you just put them in the washing machine and put your dye in and let it run all the way until the end of the cycle, so you can do other things during that time. And then you just have to run (the curtains) through the wash cycle afterward because I did a dark color and they recommend you do that. So I washed them, and dried them in the dryer then I hung them up after that. It really wasn't that difficult. You have to make sure you wash your washing machine by itself afterward to make sure to get all the dye off. I think there are more difficult versions of it, but the washing machine seemed like the easiest to me.

Bankrate: How much dye did you use?

Heidi McIntyre: I just used the liquid, just one bottle of it. On the Web site there's a chart of how much you should use for each. I only had two panels for the curtains, so I just used one bottle of the dye.

Bankrate: Can you dye the curtains by yourself or do you need help?

Heidi McIntyre: Oh, no you can do it easily yourself in the morning.

Bankrate: What do friends and family think of the curtains?

Heidi McIntyre: I've always gotten positive feedback. I honestly think if I didn't tell anybody about them, I think that nobody would even know they were cream to begin with and now they're blue.

Bankrate: What else do you do to save money?

Heidi McIntyre: I've actually always been frugal. Even when I was little girl I'd do different things to get extra stuff. But with this new home, I made my own crib skirt. I had something specific in mind that I wanted, and anything I could find was $70, $80 $90. And I know how to read those sewing patterns, so I thought, "Well I could do this." So I went to a fabric store and kind of talked to the ladies that worked there and they said, "Oh yeah, just do this and this." So, for $12 I bought the fabric and I made my crib skirt and it looks as nice as the other ones I could find. And with all of our furniture that we needed to purchase here, I kind of went into the stores negotiating if I bought the floor models and I was paying cash. So, I got a dining room set over half off because I bought it off the floor, the same thing with the crib and the nightstand that I bought with that room, (and) the dresser. I bought the floor models at a very reduced price. So I try to just, you know ... I like decent stuff, you know nice furniture that will last, but I don't want to spend a lot of money for it. So I just try to go in with that attitude like, "You know, I'll take the floor model off of you so you can put something nice out." I've furnished three rooms in our home in the last couple weeks paying way, way, way over half off. So it works.

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