With the housing recovery gaining steam, Americans have more incentives to paint up, touch up and otherwise spruce up their homes. But there's no need to spend willy-nilly.
From finding treasures on eBay.com to taking advantage of new offerings at department stores and discounters, there are plenty of ways to make your home more stylish on the cheap.
"There's no excuse for an undecorated home on any budget," said Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, a retail consultancy. "Home has as much retail selection as fashion. And you can get a lot of buys."
This year, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has expanded its assortment of window treatments and is bolstering its offerings on rugs, decorative pillows, bathroom accessories and patio furniture.
Meanwhile, Target Corp., known for its cheap chic home designs, has launched a full line for the new store brand called Threshold, which offers a variety of goods from dinnerware sets to sheets and towels. And J.C. Penney Co. is counting on a newly revamped home area that houses new brands including Jonathan Adler, Sir Terence Conran and Bodum. Michael Graves, who ended his 13-year partnership with Target last year and is known for his stylish tea kettles, is also joining Penney this spring.
Here are six tips for redecorating:
Do your homework
First, create a budget and search to get inspiration. Attend open houses to see how other people are decorating their homes. You can also find how-to videos and decorating blogs on sites such as HSN, HomeGoods, Lowe's and Home Depot.
There are fewer home decor magazines than there once were. But you can always flip through catalogs from stores such as Ballard Designs to get some tips. Also, experts encourage you to do broad searches on the Web. EBay just launched a new technology called Feed that allows you to personalize your searches based on your style, like "mod 1960s."
"It's all about getting unexpected things," said Chris Benz, an American fashion designer who is collaborating with eBay on various fashion collections.
Pick and choose
Study your space and figure out what pieces of furniture you'll be using more. If you spend a lot of time in your living room, you may want to spend more on a sofa and an entertainment center that would house your flat-screen TV and books.
It's like investing in good shoes or a handbag, said Pallavi Naidu, vice president of merchandising and product development at Atlanta-based Ballard Designs. Spending more on items that get lots of use means they will last longer and give you more satisfaction.
You don't need the real thing. If you don't have money to spend on a granite backsplash for your kitchen, turn to peel-and-stick wall tiles. Not sure if you want to invest in carpeting? An area rug could cost less and accomplish the same purpose.
Shop at flea markets and mine your mother's attic to find pieces that could be reinvented as useful home decor items. WSL's Corlett said that old sewing machines or leather-trimmed luggage can be used as tables.
Check financing deals
If you need to stagger payments, instead of charging all at once on your credit card, check retailers' financing deals. Most furniture stores have interest-free financing going most of the time. Just remember to keep up with the monthly payments or you will wind up paying heavy-duty interest and sometimes extra fees.
When in doubt, paint
Often, just a fresh coat of paint will make all the difference. "Painting is one of the affordable ways to change the decor," Corlett said.