Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

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Practical, Low-Cost Decorating Tips for Every Room in Your Home

Home Decor


Murano Glass




The Kitchen:  Renew it instead of installing a new one

  • Paint the walls a bright, fresh color, complementary to your unit color

  • Change the handles on the units (handles date faster than the units)

  • Replace the counter-top

  • Re-do the backsplash with a tile mural, or mosaic tiles, or a stainless steel or clear panel (see my Murals and Backsplashes page)

The Living Room:  Create a stunning focal point without rebuilding

  • Install an electric fireplace with an MDF frame

  • Paint the MDF frame black for a cast-iron look

  • Paint the frame white with gold highlights for a classy look

  • Tile the frame area around the fire for a farm-house or Victorian look (see my Home Decor page)

  • Hang a mirror or framed prints over the mantel to extend the focal point upward (see my Decorating with Framed Prints page)

The Study:  Get a custom-shelf look without the expense and time of the real thing

  • Measure the area to fill with shelving--floor-to-ceiling, left-to-right

  • Purchase inexpensive flat-pack shelving that fills the space if stacked together

  • Trim off any excess from the legs to get a perfect fit

  • Bolt the units together, and to the wall, for safety

  • If you want, you can affix boards to the top and sides to hide any space remaining

  • Affix pre-fabricated cupboard doors to the shelves (usually only the bottom row) to create enclosed cupboards

The Bedroom:  Fill ignored space to create warmth and atmosphere

  • Fill the wall space above the bed, dressers, dressing tables and night tables

  • Use mirrors to create a feeling of space and romance

  • Use framed prints for a formal atmosphere (see more Decorating with Framed Prints page)

  • Use box frames to hold larger object like shells, rocks, spices, nuts, dried flowers

  • Consider hanging a quilt or framed quilt pieces for a country style

  • Wall-mounted candle-holders create a romantic, nostalgic feel

The Bathroom:  Freshen up wall tiles without retiling

  • Apply a fresh layer of grout between bleach-scrubbed tiles

  • Install mosaic-design waterproof panels around the shower or bath

  • Tile Paint can make old, patterned tiles become fresh mono-color tiles in a few hours

The Dining Room:  Create atmosphere in a matter of hours

  • Wallpaper one wall of the room (or the wall in the dining area of a large room), for example…

  • Use a wallpaper mural to transport your dining room to the Riviera, the Coast, the Hills, Manhattan, a Vineyard…(see my Wallpaper Murals page)

  • Or hang a country pattern and then shelves to show off country-objects

  • Or put up velvet patterned paper and then hang a Victorian-style painting

  • Install lighting that highlights that wall

  • Balance the look with a large piece of furniture or a painting on the opposite wall

The Child’s Room:  Playful, practical and decorative

  • Paint an area of the wall with Chalkboard Paint--it comes in various colors now, not just black, so choose a complementary color

  • You can paint a chalk-board band around the room at child-level using masking tape to get a clean line

  • Or you can paint a chalk-board-like rectangle on one wall, again using tape for a clean line

  • Use Stencils to paint the alphabet and numbers along the chalk-board or band

  • Affix stickers to animate the board or band for your child

  • Don’t forget to provide lots of colored chalk, too, with erasers, and you can wipe it with a damp cloth every now and again

The Floors:  Laminate floor variations

  • Laminate floors are popular and easy to lay as well as more sanitary than carpets

  • Vary the pattern with lighter or darker colored strips to mark out room areas, for example…

  • Make stripes by alternating contrasting-colored panels with the main color

  • Or make checks if you’re handy with an electric saw

The Windows:  Go for a sleek modern look

  • Replace sheer curtains with decorative glass-foil or frosting spray--they keep out prying eyes yet let the light in

  • Replace drapes with small-levered Venetian blinds, either horizontal or vertical ones

  • Blinds come in lots of beautiful colors now, and some are made especially for bedrooms and cold climates to keep out light and cold, so buy the right ones for each room

The Radiators:  Disguise unsightly radiators while adding decorative space

  • Install radiator covers in rooms you use most often for entertaining and relaxing

  • Make sure the radiator cover has a wide shelf on top

  • Put an easy-chair next to it and use the shelf as a side-table

  • Display framed photographs or decorative objects on the shelf

  • Or just pamper you cat with a comfy cushion on the shelf in a place the sun shines by day and where the heater can keep your cat toasty warm at night