Everyone wants a home that's beautifully designed, but nobody wants to spend a fortune doing it. Let's explore some inexpensive ways to bring good design into your home.
Start by cleaning out all unnecessary items — that's right: declutter. Take a look. See what you don't really need, then get rid of those items. You can donate them and feel good about your charitableness, or you can sell them at a garage sale. If you still love some of them, but they're in the way, consider storage.
There are items you can't get rid of — such as decorative baskets or storage ottomans — but they still seem to make the room feel cluttered. Find some storage for those things. At the most-used entrance to your home, install a low shelf or cubbies to hold shoes, magazines, mail and keys. You can also install hooks in the area to hang coats, sweaters, backpacks and purses.
Painting is a good way to go. If you love the colors you have, repaint in the same theme to get a fresh, just-moved-in look. Or if you need a change of decor, select new colors and go for it. Fresh paint gives a decorated look. And kitchen cabinets can take on a whole new look when repainted.
Let the sunshine in by minimizing window treatments. The more open the draperies, the more of the outdoors will be visible, which will give the illusion of space. Add trees and plants in rooms to bring in the natural look.
When the sun goes down, you still need light to open up a room, so be sure to use layered lighting throughout the house. In the kitchen you will always have overhead lighting. Add under-counter lights to illuminate the room when dinner is done and dishes are in the washer. In the family room, several lamps might be needed for lighting the room, for reading and for setting a mood. Be sure to have a variety. In the living room, wash the walls with floor uplights for a soft yet inviting look.
Do you have a very small bathroom? Remove the cluttered look with towels rolled up and set into a basket. A worn spot on the carpet? Instead of going to the expense of recarpeting the entire room, consider adding an area rug to cover the spot and also punch up the decor. Do you have old lamps? Replace the shades for a new look.
Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, is author of "Mystery of Color."