17 February, 2009

[Recent] Article: How To Decorate on a Budget...

Australian magazine Real Living - [cover March 2009] Fabulous style & creative ideas without compromising your purse strings!
Thrifty ... designer Sara Silm with her revamped bookshelf that cost less than $200.Photo: Quentin Jones

I am sure that we are all getting very well acquainted with our household budgets this year [and potentially for many more] whilst our economy is taking a downward turn and our discretionary spending becomes scrutinised more than ever... but it doesn't mean the end to great style or re-decorating! There are some great ideas to be had on a thrifty budget - one of my favourite Australian mags 'Real Living' gives just that great ideas & fabulous style on a [shoe string] budget. So just use that noggin' and get creative with your ideas and your dollar!

'How To Decorate on a Budget... '
'...With money tight, a modern style makeover is all about using your ingenuity rather than maxing out your credit card. So we told our experts we wanted great results for less than $500.
Read on, they've got your place sorted! ...'

Think outside the square
A recession leads people to focus more on their homes, rather than less, says Chrissie Jeffery, owner of
No Chintz soft furnishings. "People aren't going out as much. So they're not going to allow their houses to get too shabby - it's the one place they can entertain." But on our meagre budget, she warns: "Don't fall into the trap of going into a shop and buying something! You're not going to get furniture that's decent and will last a long time for that money." So resist fast-filling a room with budget items. Like slow food, slow decorating pays dividends. As long as you've got a chair to sit on, take time to select pieces you really love.It's not only financially smart to choose things of quality you know you will love for a very long time, it's also the greenest choice because you won't be repeat buying and creating landfill.So, when looking for inexpensive solutions, the time is ripe to extend our decorating gaze beyond those seductive designer showrooms.
"Often what we think we need is sitting right in front of us, or in a charity store," says Sara Silm who co-owns decorating consultancy, Making Beautiful. In fact by buying second-hand, you will often score better-made pieces than something shiny and new in a budget furniture store. "Auction houses and garage sales are a great place to shop for original and interesting pieces at a great price," Silm says.

Get involved
Often the most rewarding projects are the ones where you put in a bit of physical effort. Jeffery says you can make your dollar go a lot further if you're prepared to put in a bit of effort by either painting or sewing. "In Australia, it's the labour cost that really makes things expensive," she says.
"You can change a whole room really cheaply just by giving it a coat of paint," says designer Mia Asker of White Design. Consider this: a four-litre tin of paint - enough to paint an average room - costs about $65 (depending on the brand)."If the wall is in good condition, as long as it's clean you don't need to prepare it, you can just go over the existing paint," says
Dulux marketing manager Ken Virtue.
Consider paint as a way of updating a piece of furniture, says Silm. "Just recently I painted a bookshelf (destined for the tip) in a beautiful French grey and covered the back board in a printed dark grey wallpaper," she says. "My husband returned home from a business trip and thought I'd been shopping!" The price? Less than $200.

So when looking at a tired piece of furniture, be creative and imagine it anew. "Paint or limewash an existing piece in a neutral tone. Or why not go all out and paint it raspberry red, pea green or silver?" Silm says.
Another great big-impact option is wallpaper. Some of these are extremely pricey if you're doing a whole wall but Asker recommends looking for end-of-line wallpapers at paint and decorating stores (see Source Book) for the cheapest options. For another budget-smart option, you can get the impact of doing a whole wall by using one large piece of wallpaper and framing it. "It looks great above a bed head," Asker says.

Go for the soft option
New cushions are a great instant style fix. And if your decor tends to neutral shades, then it's time to bring in a colour punch. "Pick a colour scheme; whether red and yellow or something like pink, burgundy and plum," Asker says. "If you buy some cushions, then purchase some toning vases - you'll give your room a whole new flavour."
You can buy cushions off the shelf for as little as $5 at factory-seconds stores. But once again, to make your investment something that lasts, it is worth spending a bit extra. You can buy reasonable-quality cushions with plush feather inserts for about $100 each.Another good option, if you have some great, useable fabric offcuts, is to get an upholsterer to make cushions for you. As a price guide, an good upholsterer will generally charge about $40 a cushion.

Get crafty
If you can sew, then you can create everything from cushions to curtains to upholstery. You can brush up those high school sewing skills with an evening course and you can even buy a basic sewing machine online for as little as $30.Another smart investment for the crafty decorator, if you're keen to do-it-yourself, is a staple gun. With this simple tool, all manner of projects suddenly become possible.
"Small upholstery jobs are not an unreasonable DIY venture," says Silm. "Teamed with some great fabric and some shiny nickel studs, you'll have a transformation that's incredibly impressive and also very rewarding.
"Start with the seat pad of an old dining chair. A 50-centimetre square piece of fabric, some wadding, a staple gun and upholstery tacs will get you going." If you haven't tried anything like this before, then you'll find the web is a great source of instructions for how-to projects.

Personalise your walls

Yes, the DIY shows are full of make-your-own wall art. The key here is scale and proportion. One large-sized canvas, wrapped in fabric, can create an impressive room feature. Silm is a fan of the graphic fabrics at IKEA.
"At $9 a metre, they're great value, not just for curtains." She suggests creating a series of smaller frames and covering them with the same fabric.
"Use a staple gun and wrap them around a canvas from a $2 shop for instant art. Repeated on a wall in two rows of three or five - they look great," says Silm. If anyone in your family is handy on a computer, then digital art is another great way to give a room real punch. (Try black and white images for maximum chic)."Or take any abstract images that you have on file," says Silm. "Then all you need to do is email the file to one of the many shops that can print off the image as a canvas. A 24-inch (61-centimetre) by 36-inch (91 centimetres) canvas is as little as $260." So what is stopping you? Now, no matter what the size your budget is, there is no reason why your home shouldn't look well turned out.

Olga Kaydanov reinvented an outdated piece of furniture through the simplest of means.
"I tore all of the fabric and stuffing off and was left with a box made from very cheap wood," she explains on her blog gingerandgold.typepad.com, about the ottoman overhaul.
"The box was full of imperfections and pencil marks. I liked that very much and wanted to add something extra to make it look even more like a shipping crate. I cut stencils from printer paper and stencilled the numbers, letters and symbols onto the box with regular black acrylic paint."
To finish, she added leftover MDF inserts to make a new lid, varnished the entire piece, added upholstery nails and screwed in the new legs to create a funky talking piece.

Article from SMH [Sydney Morning Herald] 29 January 2009

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