Instant home makeover

Give your home a new look with just a few simple decorating tricks.

It takes little more than a bit of imagination to change the look of your home. If you're on a budget, and who isn't, creating a new look doesn't have to take much money and sometimes none at all. There are probably have things stored away or leftover paint that will give a new look to a room in a day or a weekend.

* Get rid of clutter. It grows, so start by carrying a trash can through the house and pitch anything that is pure trash. Put things where they belong and hide other stuff in decorative boxes or baskets.

* Add color. Painting or wallpapering one wall a bright color can change the entire room. Or add a border to along the top of the wall or at chair rail level.

* If your door and window trim is painted, add a fresh coat of paint in a new color.

* Paint the front door a vivid color.

* Add shutters to windows, inside or out.

* Change the window coverings. In fall and winter, choose warmer colors and heavier textures. Use pastels and light weight coverings in the spring and summer.

* Add a colorful throw to the back of a couch or chair.

* Place pots or vases of bright flowers around the house. Add plants, real or artificial.

* Move the furniture. Rearranging furniture can give a new look to a room. Create a new focal point in a room, then arrange your furniture around it.

* Hang a mirror to give a feeling of space.

* Move pictures or paintings to another wall or hang them in a different arrangement. Take them from one room and hang them in another.

* Use a wall hanging or a quilt to add instant color and pattern to a wall.

* Use bright shawls or throws as table coverings.

* Add an area rug.

* Change knobs and pulls in kitchen. This will change the look of your kitchen more than you would think. Knobs and pulls come in different sizes, so take one of the old ones with you to your local home improvement center to get the proper fit.

* Replace an old shower curtain.

* Think seasonal. Change pillow shams, throws, and throw pillows according to the season, darker colors in cold weather, lighter colors when it's warm.

* Move accessories. Put some things away. Look for accessories that might be stored in the basement, closet, or attic. Bring them out to give a different look to a room.

* Add pillows. Throw pillows on a couch or bed add instant color and design.

* Dye something. Rugs, curtains, pillow and bed coverings will take on a new look by changing the color. Some fabrics don't accept dye well, so read the instructions on the box of dye. If you're using dark colors, be sure to rinse several times. Adding a handful of salt helps to retain the color. Run the washer empty one full cycle to get rid of any remaining dye.

* Put up a shelf or plate rail. Don't clutter it, but add a few decorative items to create an eye pleasing design. Second hand shops and yard sales often have wonderful shelves that need nothing more than a new coat of paint.

* Use baskets to hold seasonal decorations, like pine cones, fall leaves, or a pot of spring flowers.

* Add decorative moldings to the top of ceilings and doors.

* Things don't have to go in the room they were designed for. If you have something in the bedroom that would be attractive or useful in the living room, put it there.

Look through magazines or online for ideas to help you create the look you want. Advertisers often have tips or photos of room designs that can spark your imagination and help you give your rooms a new look. And remember that, as long as you like it, anything goes.

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