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Recession chic: Perk up rooms for low or no cost

FORT LAUDERDALE — Forget the pessimistic attitude.

Okay. We admit the outside world is pretty depressing these days, but your home still can be your haven. And it doesn't have to cost a lot of money to lift your spirits.

Just ask Carlos Matta, a Miami "lifestyle designer," who does everything from finding his clients a home to stocking it with towels and bed linens.

Matta's mantra: Minor changes can add glam without damaging your budget.

"You should brighten your living spaces because that's where you go at the end of the day to energize your batteries," he said. "Our surroundings can affect our mood completely. We want to come home to a homey feeling."

Here are his 10 suggestions for recession decorating:

1. Move things around

Sometimes all it takes to re-energize a room is to move the furniture. Start by moving all the furniture out of the room and look at the space with fresh eyes. Consider all the rooms in your home a "store" and move furniture and accessories from room to room.

2. Shop for good deals

Don't be afraid to negotiate a lower price. "You will be surprised how much you can get by asking," Matta said. "Everyone wants to sell, and this is the perfect time to get a bargain."

3. Decorate your wall with porcelain plates

You don't even have to leave the house for this idea. Go into your cupboard and find plates that look compatible. Keep the arrangement simple and use no more than three colors, Matta said. Arrange the plates on a large table and play around with the elements until you find an arrangement you like. Take pictures with your digital camera to help you compare ideas. Measure the spaces between the plates and hang them on the wall. You can find plate hangers at a crafts store or online.

4. Garden stools aren't just for the garden

They can be used as inexpensive end tables, or put a couple together with a glass top to make a coffee table. Look for good deals in consignment shops and online. Some of the best buys are on, where you can find stools for $74.99.

5. Buy new pillows in vibrant colors

Changing throw pillows is a great way to enhance a sofa, bed or chair. Use pastels for spring and brighter colors for summer. Add a throw to pick up one of the colors.

6. Be creative with wall art

Don't spend a fortune on fancy framed art. Instead, buy stock frames and fill them with black-and-white photos from books or with different fabrics.

7. Forget the neutrals in main living areas

Paint the walls in a happy color, like yellow. It's full of energy. Don't be afraid of intensity, Matta said. Go for it full blast. Yellow looks great with blue and white accents.

8. Don't forget the laundry room

Many of us enter our homes through the garage and laundry room, but it's the one space we often forget to decorate. Make it the room that makes you smile. Matta suggests creating either horizontal or vertical stripes, depending on whether you want to make the ceilings look taller or the room look bigger. Put blue tape on the walls to visualize how it will look.

9. Add an area rug

Rugs define areas for dining or conversation, and they can warm up a room with a tile or marble floor.

10. Keep window treatments simple

Keep it light where you want to enjoy the view. Spend money on a high-quality, attractive rod and dress it with inexpensive side panels.

"My main advice to consumers is to shop around," Matta said. "There are great deals to take advantage of. Boost the economy little by little and get the nation going again."

Recession chic: Perk up rooms for low or no cost 03/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 20, 2009 7:56am]
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