Recession Redecorating Ideas

by Michael Hershman

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My wife, Carole, is a retired interior designer. Like most folks these days, we're not about to lay out what might be survival cash for a new living room set. Carole has a few ideas about how to help brighten your house without spending more than the cost of a dinner out.

Carole's first suggestion is simple: move stuff around. Take that great still life hanging in the stairway, for example, and exchange it with the faded seascape next to the fireplace. Now pull down Aunt Millie's antique rocker from the attic, dust it off, and see how it looks in front of the still life. Whistler's Mother. Why not?

Once you've got the picture up and rocker in place, take a photo of your new vignette with a cell phone, then drive out to your favorite Big Box Cheap Stuff and pick up four different color pillows to match. Buy one for Millie's rocker and the others for the old sofa. On your way home, grab one of the new pillows out of the trunk and march in to the paint department. Have that chap in the orange apron fire his paint match gun at it for an accent wall color. Don't be bashful. Folks do it all the time.

Check out the garage. Maybe there's a rusty watering can or Grandpa's wood tackle box that might make a fun flowerpot. Fill it up with some Hydrangeas from the backyard, or since we've barely reached the cost of one entree and a bottle of Chateux San Pedro, head back down to FlowerWorld with your pillow and pick out some flowers to match. Snip off a bunch and plant the rest.

The whole idea here is to basically work with stuff you already have at home. Be creative and see how much you can change the look of your home without spending much. Home Depot, for example, has reasonably priced unfinished small round table tops with legs in various sizes. Pick the size you like, put it together, then scoot off to the fabric shop for enough fabric to cover the table. Put Grandma's pretty vase, the one in the cabinet above the fridge, along with a few favorite pictures of the kids on your new end table.

Speaking of the kids, if a boy, grab his skis, surfboard, or fishing pole out of the garage, dust it off and stick in one corner of his bedroom. Now, Mom, if you're really feeling brave, have junior pick out an accent color. Dad can help him paint after they finish the living room. Get that great shot of our hero skiing, surfing, fishing or (yeah right) studying. Take it to a photo place and have them make it into a poster laminated on foam board and then hang it on the new wall. Carole guarantees at least one "Dude!"

See if Sis wants the old living room picture or maybe Millie's Rocker if you can't stand it after all. How about a poster for her, too. The boys are getting good now. They'll love painting her wall. Even recessions can be fun.

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