Style a Budget

Tired of ogling the latest styles in brand name home furnishing stores and catalogues only to find that the price of one little coffee table equals more than half a months salary? Don’t be discouraged — with a little ingenuity, a home can be as beautiful and stylish as a Hollywood celebrity’s for a fraction of the cost.

* Start with the walls. It’s easy to forget that sometimes just adding a fresh coat of paint or changing the color of the walls can give a living room, bedroom, or dining room a brand new look and feel.

Wallpapering is another way to jazz up a room — but don’t break budget by hiring a contractor. Consider wallpapering just one wall, or only wallpapering borders.

* Create atmosphere with light. Don’t overlook the power of a lamp. The right lighting can transform any room. Forgo overhead lighting for lamps, and stay away from halogen unless it fits into a modern decorative scheme.

Wall scenes are another great way to add a stylish touch to any room. Look for the type that lends itself to easy, self-installation.

* Accessorize. Another inexpensive way to create a designer look is to buy a few key accessories, like silk pillows, chenille throw blankets and fresh-smelling candles. Choose an elegant centerpiece for a dining room table or coffee table, like floating white candles, fresh flowers, or a ceramic or glass fruit bowl.

Pictures, photos, prints and paintings can be hung around a room to create whatever look or feel desired. Shop flea markets and thrift stores for prints and interesting photographs, or go to a discount store for frames and hang some of personal creations.

* Buy furniture that won’t break the bank. Shop smart for couches, lamps, tables, entertainment centers and more. Estate sales, consignment stores, flea markets, junk and thrift stores can be gold mines for second hand but stylish furniture.

Shop clearance sales or online. Online furniture stores can be treasure troves for good deals, since they generally have little overhead and therefore don’t pass those costs on to the consumer.

* Can’t afford a new couch? If somewhat handy with a sewing machine, use discounted fabric or beautiful sheets to sew a couch cover. Still have energy? Create more cheap but beautiful “new” furniture by sewing upholstery covers for armchairs or dining room chair seat cushions.

Can’t sew? Buy a shabby chic slipcover or tuck in a large beautiful sheet or blanket for a homemade slipcover. Finally, consider simply rearranging furniture — finding a different wall to put a couch against can create a whole new look for a living room.

Use any or all of these tips to achieve the style wanted at a low cost. Amaze friends and family with a stylish home, then dazzle them with the shoestring budget worked with. Go ahead! It’s a home and homeowners deserve the best without having to spend the most.