More Than Skin Deep

Posted on 25 September 2009

Beautify Your Home

The last time I swept a critical gaze over my home and hmmm’ed, “I’d like to redecorate,” God heard me and decided He’d be my general contractor: He sent me Hurricane Dennis.   Should you be gripped by a similar urge to re-feather your nest, and ripping out floors and walls and replacing your furniture is not in your budget, fear not.  With a little ingenuity and elbow grease, you can give your home a new, bank account-friendly look.


If you’ve noticed the run of commercials lately for Home Depot‘s rather exhaustive line of paints, there’s a reason.  Paint is a relatively cheap, fast, and easy transformer.  Wallpaper is a bit less so, but both beat out by miles the cost of new fixtures in the kitchen and bath, which usually constitute the most significant renovation outlay. 


If your cabinets are old and wooden, repaint them.  And if the sight of all those paint chips from all those manufacturers sends your eye balls rolling around in your head, you can narrow the choices down right there in the store to a general color scheme and take home some small, inexpensive canisters of paint (roughly $3 each).  At home, swipe the samples across the cabinets and let them dry.  Then take a good look at them in natural light, artificial light, and dim lighting to determine which tones and tints you love best.


If Martha Stewart has left the building, you can approach this task another, easier way, as I did.  Select a wallpaper pattern and corresponding border paper.  From that pattern, your colors will practically name themselves (select interesting accent colors, not the same color of the paper’s background).


Small rooms look best with a delicate, widely scattered print.  Larger rooms can handle bolder patterns.  You can mix two media, meaning, you can paint three walls and wallpaper the fourth.  Or paint all four walls and use border paper, exclusively, instead of wallpaper (this option is cheaper).


To make the cabinets pop, do the doors one color and the framing another.  Remove the doors; clean and dry them well before painting.  You’ll thank me for cluing you in to these step even as you curse me, but remember, I’ve lived this, so I speak the truth.  Replace the old cabinet pulls and hardware after painting, and your room will look brand spankin’ new.


Don’t forget the windows.  New curtains and blinds (both fabric and wooden) are the most obvious choices, but there are others, such as traditional shutters.  The not so traditional enable you to insert a piece of fabric (of your choosing) where the shutters would have been, thus providing more privacy and softer lighting from the great outdoors.   If the windows are high enough or if you are surrounded by trees and not high-rise buildings or nosy neighbors, you can deep six the window treatments and place colored bottles on the window ledge.  Take a stroll down the bottled water aisle of your supermarket and you may be surprised at what you’ll find.  Thrift shops, kitchen supply stores, yard sales, and clean, empty wine bottles are also good sources for these inexpensive colored gems.


If you get the proper lighting and like to cook, forget the bottles and adorn your window ledge with fresh, growing herbs.  They will smell wonderful, look great in the sun, and will be right at hand as you need to add a pinch of this and a pinch of that.  Not a Julia Child?   Trailing plants such as ivy can replace the mini herb garden.

When I was a wee tot, as they say in Ireland, my grandparents had a root cellar type of closet in our basement, in which they stored canned goods and dry staples.  The pantry’s door was made of glass with a wooden frame and each glass panel was a different color.  It was so pretty that my cousin took the door off its hinges when the house was sold, carting home this souvenir from our childhood on the subway.  Propping the door up in a place of honor in her apartment, it continues to catch the light to this day.  You can do something similar with your own windows, with colored panes.  Or you can invest in a stained glass window hanging that you absolutely love; the ones I’ve seen for years in catalogues and specialty shops usually don’t run more than $200-$300 dollars, and many cost much less.


I would not recommend this for a kitchen, but if your bathroom is short on space, consider hanging a large rectangular mirror on the back of the door.  Visually, it doubles the space!


Don’t forget the details: new towels and spoon rests, a jug of flowers (I keep silk daffodils and iris in my downstairs bathroom), and/or color-coordinated candles.  Drape a skein of delicate white Christmas lights over your medicine cabinet as the days grow shorter and cooler and you’ll have a beautiful and inexpensive “night light” more unique than the usual plug-in variety.


There’s no need to go over the deep end, financially, when renovating.  Small but important changes will make the superficial appear much more than skin deep.

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- who has written 225 posts on Write On New Jersey.

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4 Responses to “More Than Skin Deep”

  1. lilikindsli says:

    I want to say – thank you for this!

  2. Trudy P. says:

    Thank you, these are good and inexpensive tips!

  3. OS says:

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

  4. Timmy Dearth says:

    Thanks for writing such an appealing post. Cheers

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