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Decorate your home on a budget

By Paula Pant · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Posted: 1 pm ET

Your countertops scream 1980s! The cabinets lack character. The carpet is faded.

Unfortunately, a full-scale remodel is outside your budget at the moment. How can you give your home a tuneup while remaining under budget? Here are five frugal decorating ideas.

1. Spruce up switch plate covers

Covers for outlets and light switches cost around $1 at big-box hardware stores. Swap out your old, yellowing covers for fresh, clean bright white ones, and your home will seem like it has had an instant upgrade. (Splurge: For a whopping $1.70, you can grab one in stainless steel -- perfect for your kitchen!)

2. Place plants around the house

A packet of seeds at the big-box store costs only $1 to $2. A seedling starter tray costs between $5 and $15, depending on its size. Pots range from less than $1 up to hundreds of dollars, depending on the material and finish.

For less than $20 you could grow a dozen or more plants from seed. These will add a burst of life around your home. Lack a green thumb? Potted plants will cost a bit more, but you'll save on frustration.

3. Add mirrors

Can't afford great wall art? Place mirrors around the house, particularly in high locations. They reflect light, making a room seem larger and brighter. They also occupy wall space in the way that art would, making walls feel less bare. Framed mirrors at big-box stores start at $6 to $12.

4. Add lighting

Browse flea markets, outlet stores and antique shops for new lighting pendants or standing lamps. Pendants help draw the eye upward, adding dimension to a room. Standing lamps occupy corners, adding character. And both help increase the brightness of the room, which can make the space feel more inviting at night.

5. Paint 1 wall

This tip is only for daring, bold personalities: Paint just one wall, a "feature" wall. This can give your room a sense of depth. And since you're only painting one wall, your costs will be fairly low -- a gallon of paint costs $20 to $35 at big-box stores, depending on the brand and the sheen.

If you want a more subtle look, paint your feature wall with the same color as the rest of the walls, just in a shade or two darker. If the other walls are sea green, for example, paint the feature wall hunter green.

Paula Pant blogs at AffordAnything.com about creating wealth and living life on your own terms. She's traveled to nearly 30 countries, owns five rental units and works for herself. Follow Paula on Twitter @AffordAnything.

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