Making Your House A Home

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The Problem

I would like to know what I could do to my house to make it look like a home. We moved in a year and a half ago and it just doesn't feel like home yet. I have trouble finding things I like for the money I can spend. That's not much because I stay home with my kids. So we are living on just one paycheck. Do you have any ideas?

Garage Sales and a Little Patience

We had the same problem when we moved into our new house a year ago. Bare walls and windows are discouraging when you have almost no budget. The answer to decorating is garage sales and a little patience. If you keep looking, eventually you can find anything you need to decorate your home. People are always getting rid of pictures, flower arrangements, wall hangings, wreaths, curtains, and even bathroom decorations but not because there is something wrong with them. They get rid of them because they don't match their new decor. Keep looking at garage sales and you will most likely find some of the things you need to make your house feel homey in no time!

Big Ideas, Small Price

One of the least expensive ways to cozy up a home is with paint. This is the most important thing you can do to warm up your home. You can buy paint relatively cheap if you watch for sales. Having plain white walls will make a home feel generic and uninviting. Try warm hues such as a buttery cream, yellow, terra cotta or even red! I painted my dining room a warm red two years ago and I haven't regretted it once. Another great way to decorate is to use plates. I have beautiful dinner size plates in my living room, kitchen and dining room as accents. Scour local antique and second hand stores for the colors and designs of your liking. You can even use a grouping of plain white plates on a wall painted in a bold color like red or blue. The cost is minimal and you can change the plates when you tire of them.

Frame old postcards and hang them up as artwork. There are beautiful postcards available for pennies at antique stores. I have purchased a $2 frame at my local chain store, painted it a pretty color and placed the postcard on a decorative paper in the frame. I now have lovely artwork hung in different rooms of my home for less than $5 a piece.

Candles will go a long way to make a home feel cozy during the day or night. Buy pretty candleholders made of glass at your local dollar store or chain store. Buy a large pack of tea light candles and display the holders all over your home. This will bring added warmth to your home and make your home feel special.

Check sale prices for Home Decorations on Amazon.

Don't forget to use items like teapots or pretty cups and saucers displayed in a grouping. Use old Ball canning jars filled with beans, pasta, popcorn or marbles and display them in the kitchen or on the mantle. Move items from one room into another and get a fresh take on an old display. Cover your tired looking accent pillows with buttons you sew on by hand. There are many different colors and styles. Choose a design or cover the whole pillow.

These are just a few of the ways I make my home feel cozy. I hope you will try some of these ideas and make your house a home for a relatively small price!

Start at the Library

I've had great luck decorating and organizing my home by using a terrific, and free, starting point: the library. You can find tons of books on decorating for any budget. And even if you can't afford the high-end furnishings and materials, you can get some wonderful ideas and then duplicate the look for less.

Once you decide on the look you'd like, keep a list handy of your color choices, furniture styles, room measurements, etc. Then you can either return to the library for the how-to and craft books or keep your eyes open for sales. If you've done your homework and know the look you want to create, it's that much easier to see the potential in thrift shop or tag sale furniture or bargain-bin sale items. Fabric store sales are a good resource. Bargain fabric can change the look and warm up a room instantly when used as slipcovers, curtains, or pillows. Sale-priced sheets make great curtains and slipcovers, too. And don't be afraid of color. Paint isn't that expensive and can really add a lot to your home. Consider faux painting, adding a cheery wallpaper border, or stenciling, if you don't want to repaint an entire room.

Some books I've found especially helpful: Use What You Have Decorating by Lauri Ward, More Splash Than Cash Decorating Ideas by Donna Babylon, and Decorating for Good: A Step-by-Step Guide to Rearranging What You Already Own by Carole Talbott.

There are a couple TV shows along these lines, too, on HGTV if you get it in your area: "Decorating Cents" (very inexpensive) and "Sensible Chic" (more expensive) are both good for illustrating grand decorating on a small(ish) budget.

Calendar to Artwork

I had some very blank walls in my house and no money for nice pictures, so I did the next best thing, at least for my budget. I bought wall calendars. One or two large ones and a small one as well that had beautiful pictures with scripture on them. You can find all kinds of calendars with most anything on them. Then I purchased from Walmart some mats and picture frames in different sizes. After a little trimming and taping, I had scenic pictures that cost me less (a whole lot less) than what stores charge for cheap pictures. I also like pictures of the family at various events in frames. It adds a lot to the walls. I still have some blank spaces that I am waiting for just the right picture.

Also blankets and pillows are great options that can be made or bought for reasonable prices and they add that "comfy feeling" to a living room or bedroom. I also suggest color for the walls.

Greenery Adds to Coziness

The very first thing you will want to do is add greenery. If you have a corner in the living room, put your tree (elevated if necessary) in that corner with a table, chair, or couch in front of it. A canister lamp on the floor will give a glow of warmth and a feeling of

"I like to be here." Though I don't know what your decorating style is, I can say that using wood in your frames is warmer than metal.

You also want to play with texture and add touches of fabric here and there (try a napkin in a basket or a chenille throw on the sofa, etc.). Mirrors will help to enlarge and brighten a room, so you may want to place greenery so that it will surround or be reflected by your mirror. Possibly a bowl of fruit on your dining table or kitchen counter would lend to a family ambience.

Coffee table books are an excellent addition to your coffee table. Whether you have an interest in photography, bonsai, or Victorian decor, a good coffee table book or two is a friendly and trendy amenity for your visitors.

Make sure that you are not hanging your framed art too high. A general rule is to have it centered at 5 1/2 to 6 feet.

Fabulous Family Pictures

Family pictures make the home. Frames can be found at garage sales, Goodwill etc. We have purchased many pictures just for the frames and take the old picture out. You can paint the frame or decorate it with scraps of cloth, wood, buttons etc. and then put family pictures in them. Also some of the best pictures I have found have been from calendars. They have so many special calendars, like balloons, puppies, etc. Get some of the old ones and group pictures for a nice look. Sometimes making a house a home is also accomplished with scent, potpourri, flowers, scented oils etc. This can make a home feel warm and inviting. Try some paint, a border, a rug, or throw pillows for the children to watch TV. Remember garages sales, Goodwill, and friends changing the look of their home are good places to find stuff for your home.

Plants Make the Difference

I have found that plants make a big difference. They put life and color into a room. And usually you can get them free. Just say out loud at church or school that you need some plants. And people will say, "Hey, I have some cuttings if you'd like them." All of us plant people love to give someone our babies, too. Go to Wal-Mart and get some plain old clay pots (about 50 cents a piece). Then go back in the craft section and pick up a couple bottles of paint in your colors (about 50 cents a piece) and paint the pots. If you go to a doctor's office that has plants, a lot of times they will give you cuttings. Keep the cuttings in a clear glass and they will root. At Wal-Mart or Kmart, you can usually find some wax begonias. They are cheap this time of year but you can keep them inside and they will bloom in February or March. I have one that I've kept in the house for nine years. Put out some family pictures and you're on your way.

Take the Next Step

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