housing and furnishing costs can place budget constraints
on renters or first-time home buyers, as well as on established
families. In many cases, most of the housing portion of the
budget goes toward rent or mortgage payments and very little
remains for furnishings.
new materials and designs, decorators and manufacturers have
made furnishings more affordable. Plastic, fiberboard and
laminates are inexpensive materials used in place of solid
woods. Multi-use pieces cut down on the number of pieces needed
and make attractive and functional furnishings available at
a reasonable cost. Consumers can further reduce home-furnishing
costs by finding creative uses for old items and by developing
the skills necessary to refurbish their present furnishings.
you set up housekeeping for the first time, it is important
to make a home-decorating plan. Spending an entire budget
on one nice piece of furniture makes it impossible to afford
anything else. It leaves the decorating plan incomplete and
the living space sparsely furnished. If you are on a limited
budget, select inexpensive, low-quality furnishings for starter
pieces. These temporary pieces probably will be replaced eventually
with better, more lasting choices. Low-quality pieces are
easier to discard when the time comes. Also, tastes change.
The design and color you choose at first may not be what you
want in five years. Purchase better pieces later and you'll
get the type of furnishings that you'll enjoy for many years.
decorating plan for a new household does not need to include
all the furnishings contained in a well-established household.
Many pieces are not essential and can be purchased later as
more money becomes available.
within a budget involves planning, creativity, do-it-yourself
skills, and a spirit of adventure. Follow these guidelines
to create an attractively furnished home at minimum cost:
Develop your sense of creativity and imagination by becoming
more aware of your surroundings. Train your eye to see creative
uses for ordinary objects.
Collect ideas. Jot down things you see. Clip ideas from magazines
and other sources. The ideas you find may spark inspiration.
You may decide that a foyer treatment is a good idea for a
den. An idea copied exactly is rarely successful. Instead,
adapt it to your own situation.
Express your own taste. Make your home reflect your personality
and the way you like to live.
Try to visualize how the design or treatment will look in
your home. Working with large samples of colors and fabrics
Be courageous. Break away from tradition and try something
Develop do-it-yourself skills. The more decorating tasks you
can do yourself, the less expensive your projects will be.
Learn to recognize bargains. Be on the lookout for sale items,
and follow your decorating plan so you don't buy things you
Make the useful decorative and the decorative useful. By combining
function and aesthetics, fewer items are necessary.
what overall feeling or atmosphere you want for a room. Traditional
or modern? Cozy or light and airy? Bright and flashy or calm
and subdued? The atmosphere you create affects how people
feel and function.
you dive into projects, review a few basic design principles.
Rules for decorating are not as strict today as they once
were. People combine old and new, mix styles together, and
don't follow strict color schemes. But no matter how imaginative
your idea is or how much money you spend on it, the end result
will be disappointing if you don't follow basic principles.
(walls, ceilings, floors). Background colors become dull
and lifeless from dirt and age. Brighten walls with a good
cleaning or coat of paint. Dark colors hinder light reflection.
Too much pattern in the background makes special accessories
Choose a color scheme. Use different colors in different
proportions and vary from dark to light. Repeat colors. Tie
colors together with a pattern, and repeat the pattern around
the room. Use subdued colors in large areas and bright colors
in small areas. Accent neutral background colors with small
areas of bright color.
point. A focal point is whatever draws your eye when you
first enter a room. Emphasize only one area rather than making
many areas compete for attention.
Lines should provide variety without confusion. Lines can
provide direction or movement of the eye throughout a room.
and size. Use a variety of shapes for interest. Make sure
your furnishings are in pleasing proportion to one another
and to the room.
Different textures lend different feelings to a room.
Use patterns to add interest. Start with a pattern and use
its colors throughout the room, or choose a pattern that coordinates
with the room's existing colors. Repeat patterns in the room
and don't be afraid to mix patterns.
Keep light bulbs clean for maximum light. Replace lampshades
when they become dark and yellowed. Provide adequate light,
especially for reading, sewing, etc.
a new surface treatment is all an old piece may need. When
deciding on a surface treatment, consider how the item will
be used. If it will be replaced soon, you can be more extreme
with your choice and less concerned with wear. A heavily used
item, though, needs a surface that is durable and easy to
is one of the easiest surface finishes to apply and can be
attractive and durable. Spray or brush it on large surfaces.
Antiquing, like most paint finishes, does a good job of covering
surface colors and marks on old furniture. Use stencils to
paint designs on floors, walls, furniture, lampshades, etc.
Cover the design with a clear coating for protection.
as a surface treatment can be applied in many ways. When using
both fabric and paint to decorate a room, always buy the fabric
first and then find or mix a paint to match. Bed sheets work
well in home projects that require large pieces of fabric.
and adhesive-backed papers are popular covers for home-furnishing
items as well as for walls. To make a poorly designed or awkward
piece of furniture blend into the background, cover it and
the wall behind it with the same pattern. Cover small items
like waste baskets, coffee cans and notebooks to make them
coordinate with the rest of the room.