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Furniture > Style on a budget: Simple changes = dramatic results.

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By: Colin McDougall
Would you like to add more elegance and style to your home? Would you like to know how to do it for less money?

You?re not alone. Americans spent $343 billion on home enhancement, according to a recent study by the Barnard Retail Consulting Group of Upper Montclair, N.J. So if you are thinking of improving your home decor, you are in good company.

Trends driving today?s decorating

People are changing their decor more often than in the past. This is due to the greater pace of life in general, as well as shorter design cycles in other style areas such as clothing fashions.

Consumers are more style and fashion conscious and want to express their individual taste. The Internet, movies, magazines, and TV programs all display a much wider range of home decor styles?elements of which consumers want to incorporate into their lives.

People are investing less in decor items. Young people especially, often leave the old decor items behind, rather than pay to move them to their new homes.

Can I decorate without a decorator?

Today, more people than ever are making exciting changes to their homes, and they are doing so without the expense of a professional decorator. If you are thinking of improving your decor you may be wondering:

Can I make the changes myself?
Will the results look professional?
Can I learn about my options?
Can I make the changes for a reasonable amount of money?

In a word?yes! Not only can you successfully decorate your home yourself, there are compelling reasons for doing it yourself. These include:

Saving money
Getting exactly what you want
Implementing the decor changes on a time frame that matches you budget and available time
Expressing your unique sense of style ?go high end on one room, more modest on another

Where to find decor ideas:

Home decor trends change often. To find the latest trends:

Read home design magazines
Go window-shopping at furniture and design stores
Talk to in-store designers

Will my new decor work with what I have?

One of the exciting design trends of recent years in the ?eclectic? look?the mixing and matching of various items, fabrics, colors and styles. Many people today typically have an assortment of home furnishings: antique items they inherited, items bought while single, and items chosen as a couple. Today you can combine these in creative and fun ways for a look that is pleasing and uniquely yours. This is quite a contrast to the more stuffy approach of period furniture and decor of the past.

Where do I start?

With the home decor choices available, starting a project can seem a bit intimidating.
Like all successful projects, you need a plan before you start. Consider your objectives?do you want to add a new piece of furniture or redo a whole room? Rather than get bogged down with reviewing endless possible decor improvements, let?s focus on the following four areas that yield impressive results for a reasonable price:

Area rugs


Painting a room is one of the easiest but most impressive decor changes you can make. You can make a small room look larger with lighter colors. You can also make a smaller apartment look larger by tying its rooms together with a lighter color.

Conversely, you can make a large room more intimate by using darker colors. A splash of color can brighten a drab space. Have a favourite rug or piece of furniture? Then you can use this as the basis of your decor and select a paint color that complements it.

Purchase your paint from a quality speciality paint retailer. National paint retailers have the latest colors and can instruct you on new painting techniques. Since they only sell paint, they have very knowledgeable staff that can assist you in finding the perfect color for your project.

How to paint like a pro

Select one or two dominant colors for your room. While the choice of paint colors is up to you, you can get the best results by ensuring that you:

Buy quality paint. Rule number 1:You cannot afford cheap paint! Why? The biggest cost of painting is labor?yours or someone else?s. Quality paint covers better, goes farther, looks better when finished, and wears longer. Saving a few dollars a gallon is false economy. Unless you are painting a kitchen or bathroom that will experience frequent scrubbings, use a quality latex paint. Latex paint produces fewer fumes when drying and allows you to clean your implements with soap and water rather than with mineral spirits, such as turpentine.

Buy quality brushes and rollers. You want to apply your quality paint with quality tools. Ensure you have the correct brush for the job. For latex paint, you want to use a quality brush that has synthetic bristles. For oil paint, purchase a brush with natural bristles. Purchase high quality rollers with the appropriate ?nap.? Nap refers to the length of the fabric on the roller. In general, a shorter nap will produce a smoother finish. Don't try to clean rollers. If you finish a wall and need to stop for the day, use a fresh roller when you start again. By purchasing quality paint and applying it carefully with quality tools, you will be ensuring the best possible result for your efforts.

Don't skimp on preparation. Actually painting the room is the final step. The time you spend getting your room ready to paint will reward you with a much better finished look.

Don't paint over dirt. Begin by washing the walls and ceiling with Tri Sodium Phosphate or TSP. This comes in powdered form and you mix it with a bucket of hot water. Wear rubber gloves and use a clean sponge. Sponge the room with clear water when you are finished. Don't skip this step, because you will be amazed at how much grime comes off from clean-looking walls.
Once the walls are clean, fill nail holes and any imperfections with drywall patching compound. Fill the nicks and scratches; let dry, then sand smooth. Always prime the areas you have patched before painting, otherwise the areas will show through as dull spots.
Remove or cover all furniture with drop cloths. Cover your floors and any baseboard trim before starting.

Take your time. One of the great things about doing it yourself is that you can work carefully and do a superior job. Relax, work carefully, and you will be amazed at what you have accomplished.

Area Rugs

A new area rug represents one of the best home decor purchases you can make. These affordable rugs come in a multitude of styles, fabrics, and colors. You can use them to brighten a room, accent your furniture, or provide a lively contrast to the primary decorating theme. Area rugs work well in living rooms of course, but also in bedrooms, halls, even bathrooms. There are three broad categories of area rugs.

Persian Rugs

Persian rugs have a well-deserved reputation as the finest in world. All Persian rugs are made by hand, visit for more details. Each rug is a beautiful and complex original, painstakingly made by skilled humans. Many weavers come from families that have been making rugs for generations. The symmetry and accuracy of the complex designs is stunning. A Persian rug represents an investment in gracious living that, with proper care, will yield decades of beauty and elegance to your home.

Four main factors contribute Persian?s legacy of excellence:

Beautiful colors?rich vibrant colors reflect the use of the finest dyes

Enchanting designs?while each rug is unique there are three broad categories of design, each stunning in its own way: geometric designs, curvilinear and floral designs, and pictorial designs

High knot count?simply put, more knots are better because they result in a tighter weave

Highest quality materials?these rugs feature the highest quality wool, silk, and dyes. The highest quality materials yield the finest rugs.

Oriental Rugs

Oriental rugs come from Asia and are less expensive than Persian rugs. Oriental rugs come in a vast array of sizes, colors, and designs. All Oriental rugs have the following key characteristics:

Stunning Colors?rich, lush colors that blend together beautifully predominate

Beautiful Designs?complex patterns and even pictures characterize these rugs. The religion of Islam inspires many of the designs and themes, giving the rugs an elegant and exotic look

Contemporary Rugs

Generally the most affordable of area rugs, contemporary rugs tend to defy description; there are so many great possibilities. Broadly speaking, however, contemporary area rugs have the following characteristics:

Bright colors

Bold designs and patterns

High tech fabrics such as acrylic, polypropylene, rayon, and wool (low tech but high quality)

Unique shapes?unconventional shapes abound

Who has the best selection of area rugs at the lowest prices?

Internet merchants. A quality Internet-based retailer can carry far more stock than the local carpet store. They have lower prices because their overhead is lower and they tend to deal directly with the carpet makers?thereby cutting out layers of middlemen and the expensive mark-ups.

If buying a carpet over the Internet seems unusual, don't worry. (People didn?t used to buy computers over the Internet either.) The key to buying a great carpet you will love is finding a reputable online merchant. You want someone who has a solid reputation, great selection, excellent product knowledge, and guarantees.


Furniture makes a big decor statement in a room. Casual or elegant, bold or subtle, there?s nothing like the right pieces to set a room off.

Here?s a little secret they won?t tell you at the furniture store?chances are good you don't need to replace the furniture you already have to get a fresh new look in your home. Furniture, especially older furniture, is often extremely well made. The frame is often hardwood and very sound. Likely the cushions are fine too. What might be a bit out of date is the fabric and pattern. Do you need to spend a bundle on having the item reupholstered? No you don't!

Savvy consumers know that today?s innovative slipcovers can rejuvenate your couch or chair at a fraction of the cost of replacing them or having them reupholstered. Modern slipcovers fit beautifully, giving you a tailored look. Here are the benefits of using slipcovers:

Save money. Why spend $1,000 or more for a new couch when you can get the same look for a fraction of the cost?

Achieve a high quality look inexpensively with hundreds styles, patterns, and colors of fabrics to choose from. Many high-class fabrics are available such as suede.

Change the look whenever you want. Buy two slipcovers for a sofa?a casual one for everyday use and a second one for entertaining. In minutes you can transform from casual to elegant.

Enjoy your furniture more, because you worry less. Unlike in magazines, real children spill things and pets mess up the sofa. This is not a problem if a slipcover protects your sofa. Pop it in the wash and presto?the sofa looks immaculate again!

Respect the environment?don't trash good furniture when it can still provide years of stylish service with slipcovers.

Best of all, you can view, order, and have these slipcovers delivered without leaving the house. Internet retailers have the widest selection and the lowest prices. Here is great example of lamps and light fixtures site


In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.
Aaron Rose

Interior designers use lighting to bring a room alive, and so can you. Consider the beauty of a pool of light in a room, adding mood and elegance.

One of the best ways make a lighting decor statement is through a combination of floor and table lamps. Lamps represent your best lighting value because they require no wiring alterations to your home and because they can be moved from room to room and from house to house. By only lighting the areas you want, you can save energy and money. And you can add or take away focus from different parts of a room, according to your decorating scheme.

Using lamps effectively

Begin by asking yourself what you are trying to achieve. Do you want general illumination in a corner of the room or a lamp to light a task area, such as a desk or comfy reading chair? This will help you narrow the choice to freestanding floor lamps or table lamps.

Next think of styles. Today you can choose from literally hundreds of different styles of lamps in classical, contemporary, and futuristic styles. Both floor lamps and table lamps (visit and for more details) also come in a vast array of colors and materials including brass and other metals, plastic and wood. Whatever your style, there is a lamp for you.

Finally, consider the light it casts. Today you can get lamps with bulbs that cast distinct lights. The oldest and most familiar bulb is the incandescent that casts a warm light. These bulbs are inexpensive, but not very energy efficient. Consider a lamp with a dimmer that accepts tri-light bulbs, so you can tailor the light to the mood and save energy.

Two other choices not available in the past are compact fluorescent bulbs and halogen bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs fit in standard light sockets and are super energy efficient. These bulbs come in a variety of lighting tones so you can have both energy efficiency and a warm, inviting light. The other choice today is halogen bulbs. These tiny bulbs cast a bright, whitish light?ideal for spot illumination.

Final decor thoughts

Whatever the scope of your project, be bold, take chances, and express yourself. If you?ve always wanted a red wall?do it. The suggestions above are modest in cost, allowing you to experiment and find just the right home decor look. Have fun!

About the author:
Colin McDougall is a successful freelance writer for several home decor websites. For more tips and ideas visit http://www.only-area-rugs.com

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