Redecorating our living spaces has never been more popular. Turn on the television these days and chances are you'll come across one of numerous programs featuring a team of designers who transform a home in just a few days. Astonishing before and after photos demonstrate what can be achieved with some paint, a few furniture upgrades and a good layout. What we don't see, of course, are the hours of planning and preparation that have led up to the televised decorating frenzy.
Unfortunately, most of us don't have a large budget, much less a team of designers working for us. So where do you start and how will you afford it? The following ideas will help you add comfort and beauty to any space without breaking the bank.
Start with colour. Paint is one of the most important tools for decorators; paint is a relatively inexpensive way to dramatically change the look of a room. You can open up a small space with light tones. You can warm a room with red, orange or yellow. Shades of blue and green can be soothing. A powerful accent colour, such as rust red, painted on one wall can create a focal point. Consider your personal preferences. Redecorating is an opportunity to create the home you've always wanted. Keep in mind, however, that dark tones will require several coats to cover if you want to change them later.
Another consideration when selecting paint is your existing furniture. Ask yourself which pieces you like and which ones you plan to recover or replace. For example, if you have a sofa and chair that you like, study the fabric for clues to a good colour scheme for the entire room. Take close-up photos of the fabrics and bring the photos with you to the paint store. There you can easily test out several combinations of colours. Before you buy any paint, be sure to bring the swatches home and put them against the walls and the furniture. Swatches can look far different under the fluorescent lighting at the store than they will in your home.
If your furniture doesn't inspire you, visit a paint store and check out the colour schemes that professional designers have assembled. Paint manufacturers often provide catalogues of coordinated colours to help take the guesswork out of decorating. You may find some surprising yet delightful combinations such as chocolate brown, silvery grey and baby blue or a rich warm combination of burgundy, cinnamon and gold. Of course, there are also more subdued options to choose from such as shades of beige, taupe and brown. You may decide to utilize an entire palette of recommended paints or simply use it as a starting point in creating your own unique style.
Colour is also closely linked to lighting. Both artificial and natural light affect how the eye perceives colours. Full spectrum natural light is warmer than florescent light but often cooler than incandescent light. Under florescent bulbs, colours may appear slightly blue or green. Regular incandescent bulbs often cast a yellowish light. If you have few windows and want to add more natural light to a room, try blue incandescent light bulbs also known as grow lights. The pale blue colour of these bulbs filters out the yellow rays produced by regular incandescent bulbs. The result is a whiter-looking light similar to natural light.
Remember that the placement of lights will also have a major impact on the atmosphere of a room. A single overhead light that illuminates an entire room can obliterate relaxed ambience at the flick of a switch. Floor and table lamps are a good solution. They provide soft light where it's needed most rather than trying to light a large area. Take a look around your home for areas that may benefit from illumination. Try a soft spotlight on a display case or a piece of artwork. Use 'uplighters' to create the illusion of a high ceiling and to brighten dark corridors. Think of applying light as an artist would apply paint to a canvas; light brings colours to life by allowing them to emerge from the dark recesses. Today, there are a great variety of lighting fixtures available that can provide functionality with style.
Consider building your own tables and shelves. With a little practice, some basic instruction and a few tools such as a drill, a saw, screwdrivers and a carpenter's square you can create your own simple furniture. Aside from saving money, homemade furniture can also be healthier than some commercial products made from plywood, particleboard or medium density fiberboard (MDF). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that the adhesives used in these products contain urea-formaldehyde resins which emit varying levels of formaldehyde, a toxin. By choosing solid wood and low-emission paints and varnishes, you can be assured your furniture is as safe as possible. Home renovation stores now offer numerous products for 'do-it-yourselfers' including ornate moldings and carved legs for chairs and tables.
Simple sewing skills are all that's required to make unique accent pillows for couches and beds. Most fabric stores have 'end of the roll' bins with small pieces of fabric at discounted prices. Most pieces are a square metre in size-large enough to make a standard pillow. For added versatility, you may want to use a different type of fabric on each side of the pillow. You can even add beads or stencil on a design in fabric paint for added interest.
Sometimes the best solutions are free. Rearranging furniture can instantly create a fresh new look for your home. Before you start moving your furniture, take some measurements and sketch out the new design on paper. Furniture that is arranged in a curve rather than at right angles generally seems more inviting. Try positioning some pieces at intriguing angles. There is no need to stop at rearranging furniture-try rearranging your framed artwork as well. Create unique groupings of different sized frames. For sleek style, create a row of identically sized and framed pieces of art.
Redecorating can be a wonderful opportunity to infuse your living space with your own personal style. By incorporating some of these ideas and planning ahead, your redecorating experience can also be cost-effective.