Those stacks of Pottery Barn and West Elm catalogs beckon from your mailbox, suggesting floorboard-to-chandelier redos of your pad. But the last time we checked, the stock market was as down and out as your stained, sagging sofa. Before you nail up a cross-stitched sampler that says "Home Dated Home," you might want to read a few tips from some buck-stretching design pros. Washington Post
Detox your digs
Getting a posher look might involve shedding stuff you're tired of. Conquer the rest of the clutter with painless organization tactics, such as lassoing your toppling magazine collection into cheap, attractive files.
Can't afford that drum-shade chandelier you've been dreaming of? Glamming up your lighting can be as easy as installing dimmer switches, which you can pick up for a few bucks at a hardware store.
Another bright idea: Swap tired lampshades for new ones.
When you're looking to buy a dresser or bed, your dollar will stretch further if you shop for used pieces, which also are likely to last longer. Give it an inexpensive facelift by reupholstering a chair or painting a cabinet.
Trick the eye
Use illusions in your decor: If your ceiling is square, mark off a square within a square within a square, with each outer tier painted one shade lighter.
You know how you tend to judge a restaurant by the freshness of the flowers on the table? That's the same way your friends feel when they go to smell your "orchids" and get a big whiff of synthetic. Sure, the fake stuff is cheaper. But fresh-cut flowers from Costco ($8.99 per variety bunch; $15.99 for 18 rose stems) or, better yet, your local flower shop radiate a level of class that can't be forged.
Whether your baubles are divine or so-so, the secret lies in presentation. Group things together on a wall to make it look more intentional and to cut the visual clutter.
Rock a roller
Freshen a room with paint. Opt for a lush, saturated hue. Or accentuate what you have with a splashy top coat such as Ralph Lauren's iridescent Candlelight paint ($47 per gallon, Home Depot), which richens dark colors while making light colors airier.