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All Through the House

10 Fabulous, Quick and Easy Ways to Spiff-Up Your Home

Do you crave the look of rooms you see in design magazines, but you don't want to spend the time or money on a major renovation? You're in luck! These 10 steps will let you achieve "the look" without the effort.

In the Bedroom...

1. Drape the bed.Create drama with a bed surrounded by flowing fabric. "Dramatic effects can be easily achieved by adding bed hangings," says interior designer Nadine Nemec, owner of Nemec Design, a design and organizing firm in suburban Philadelphia.

Here's her tips for getting the job done:

  • Position the bed so that it is the focal point.
  • Install simple 1-inch x 2-inch wood blocking to the ceiling to form L shapes at each corner, measuring approximately 14 inches in length on each side.
  • Attach hook Velcro strips (with adhesive backing) the full length on the outside of each piece of wood.
  • Attach ceiling-to-floor-length sheer fabric, machine hemmed and finished, gathered and sewn, 2 1/2 times the fullness at the top, then sew loop Velcro tape to the top and attach to wood blocking on the ceiling.

"The treatment will add height and elegance to a bedroom," Nemec says.

Michele Seaburg of Ferndale, Wash., improvised upon this idea. "In my daughter's bedroom, I moved her antique iron bed into the corner and placed a corner shelf behind for storage," she says. "I then attached a bed crown to the ceiling and added floor-to-ceiling fabric, thus concealing the corner unit and giving the room an extravagant look."

2. Pile on the pillows.Add a burst of color or define the room using decorative pillows on the bed, chairs and even large ones on a corner floor. The more pillows, the cozier the room feels.

Add drama with a homemade, bed-width bolster. Simply purchase a thin mattress pad the size of your bed. Lay it flat on the bed and roll it from bottom to the top of the bed. Use a flat sheet, in a solid coordinating color – one size larger than your bed. Roll the sheet onto the mattress pad roll. Tie at both ends with decorative ribbon. The sheet can be easily removed for washing or switched for a different look.

Another trick to updating your bedding is with an easily made duvet. "I sewed two different full-size flat sheets together to make a duvet for her bed and coordinate with the gold and cream material cascading from the bed crown," says Seaburg. "At the end of the bed, I used a small console table culled from another room in the house, painted it white, black and gold, and put her three initials on each of the three door panels."

3. Collect candles.Even when unlit, candles and their decorative holders can add sophistication and class to a boudoir. Buy candles for their scent and their appearance. Buy similar candleholders to keep a consistent theme, but vary height for added interest. Cluster together in odd-number groupings. Line tea-lights along a windowsill or atop a bookcase for a subtle, romantic glow.

In the Kitchen...

4. Add artwork.The kitchen is often a neglected room when it comes to framed art and photos. Pick out varying sizes of the same style frame and create a theme for the artwork. Black-and-white enlarged photocopies of family photos or artwork with a food theme bring a classic touch to the room.

If you don't like the color of your fridge, cover it with postcards or small art prints. "Stretch great looking fabrics on several artist canvas stretcher frames to cover large expanses of wall," Nemec says. "Shadow-frame personal and family memorabilia collage-style. Try to find work that includes colors pulled from fabrics and finishes in the room, but also exciting shots of unexpected accent colors."

In the bathroom...

5. Serve it up.Create a focal point and extra storage with a serving tray. Use a painted tray that would usually rest on a bed or ottoman. Unfinished wooden trays can be purchased for less than $5 at craft stores, which you can paint (silver and gold are both good choices).

Add colored glass bottles filled with surplus lotions and shampoos, a decorative raised-rim plate piled with colorful soaps and toiletry containers. Include an orchid and some potpourri in bowls, and you have an attractive, functional display.

6. Tackle the tile.Nemec suggests painting wall tiles. "There are primers and paints available which are made to adhere to ceramic wall tiles," she says. "This approach is best if one extremely dislikes the existing tile but is not ready for major renovations. The new color must also coordinate with existing flooring. Painting the flooring or shower area is not recommended."

7. Display towels.Towels can soften up a cold bathroom while adding splashes of color. Layer large towels over bars along with smaller, embellished ones. Place a large folded towel over the side of the bathtub for a comfy spa look. Roll smaller towels lengthwise and stack in baskets.

In the Living Room...

8. Turn to tables.One of the best bargains, a decorator table, costs under $10, but it can offer endless design possibilities. Use a tablecloth that coordinates with your room, adding trim or a second smaller tablecloth on the top. Finish with an elegant vase filled with one color and variety of faux flowers. "Most often people space items separately all over the table," Nemec says. "It is better to group items, so that the overall look is not 'spotty.'" Stack two or three large art books, with maybe a piece of art pottery on top (a shallow bowl for example), and then add another bowl alongside candlesticks somewhere else on the table.

9. Soften the sofa.Clever concealments can revive a dated sofa. Begin by covering the cushions and back frame. This can be done in separate sections or all at once. For example, you can sew covers for each cushion or use one big piece of fabric (a large tablecloth works well, but don't forget to measure first).

To do this, remove the back pillows, and lay the fabric on top of the sofa. Next, tuck in the fabric at the sides and under the bottom cushions. Then, drape the fabric over back. Add back pillows (either recovered or new coordinating ones) and decorative bolsters to each side. A throw can also be draped on one side.

For added elegance, trim can be added to the bottom edges of the sofa with hot glue.

10. Create storage solutions.Good storage is having functional items that also add to your room's décor. "The most underutilized space in most homes is vertical," Nemec says. "If you've run out of storage room, think up!" There is usually wall space available for shelving outfitted with baskets.

Tia Blake of Durham, N.C., uses creativity for her storage options. "In my home, baskets serve as drawers on shelves, holding magazines and mail," she says. "Lidded baskets store everything from candles to pictures. Hat boxes stack up to create unique side tables containing bills. Flower pots hold pens, pencils, paper clips and even tools and art supplies. Galvanized buckets serve as tool caddies. Using what you already have is so much more personal and warm. If you use attractive containers, things you like looking at, you can corral your clutter in plain sight and have a beautiful home."

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