Give your home a room-by-room makeover with these easy, cheap decorating ideas.
PROBLEM: I need more storage but I don’t have wall space for a traditional china cabinet, and the room is too narrow to hold a server
SOLUTION: Consider a lingerie chest. It's a great way to utilize a narrow wall, since such chests are usually tall, the extra height makes for extra capacity. Instead of a server, try a low bookcase—most are less than 1 foot deep, while servers often take up 1 ½ feet or more.
PROBLEM: I want a work space that is cheerful and inspiring but doesn’t look like an office.
SOLUTION: Start by selecting simple, unobtrusive furniture, then pep up the room with colorful accessories. The white finish of the desk recedes into the white walls, as does the floating shelf, while fabric-covered bulletin boards and storage boxes are eye-catching accents. Instead of an office chair, pull up a dining chair with an upholstered seat.
PROBLEM: My sofa looks odd by itself in the middle of the floor. What’s missing?
SOLUTION: Anchor your sofa with additional furniture. In place of a typical coffee table, why not choose something that has space to store books, DVDs and all the other accumulated stuff? These modular units, arranged in a wraparound style, serve as side tables too.
PROBLEM: What with my husband’s and my things, plus all the blankets and bedding, our room is a chaotic mess!
SOLUTION: Boost the room’s storage capacity. Make use of the walls by installing chic box shelves, ideal for holding books, photos and other small items you want close at hand. A bench at the foot of the bed is convenient for stowing blankets or extra pillows, and provides a place to perch when putting on shoes. Shallow baskets that slide under a dresser or bed can hold out-of-season clothing.
PROBLEM: My kids need a place to do their homework, draw and do crafts, but space is tight.
SOLUTION: To create a work station, all you need is a corner, a closet or a short expanse of wall. Choose a bright, cheerful color scheme. Install shelves to hold storage bins, and include a rolling cart for easy access to construction paper, glue, markers and other everyday items. Display some of the kids’ masterpieces to keep their creative juices flowing.
PROBLEM: I spend so much time in the laundry room! How can I make it more attractive?
SOLUTION: One simple way to make your utility room more cheery: Just add a coat of paint, perhaps in a hue you might not choose for a more heavily trafficked room. Add baskets, hooks, and shelves to keep the washer and dryer area clutter-free. Mounting your ironing board to the wall makes it more convenient and saves space too.
PROBLEM: How can I maximize the space underneath the stairs?
SOLUTION: Consider installing a wall unit with cubbies there. It gives all family members their own space for stowing whatever they need to take when they leave the house. Plastic, wicker or metal bins can hold shoes, sports equipment, schoolbooks, and other miscellaneous items. Be sure to include a bench where people can sit and put on their shoes.
PROBLEM: I want to renovate my bathroom, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money.
SOLUTION: Scour local flea markets for furniture you can convert into a sink console, such as the vintage table seen here. Large hooks are an economical alternative to towel bars that look just as nice when they’re holding colorful towels. Instead of a medicine chest, opt for ordinary wall mirrors; toiletries, extra towels and other sundry items can be stored in plastic or wicker baskets.
PROBLEM: I’ve run out of storage space in my kitchen. What can I do?
SOLUTION: Mount open shelves, or a plate rack like this one, to hold your everyday dishes and glassware. The new shelving doesn’t have to match your existing cabinets—it can be an attractive complement instead, costing as little as $20 per shelf. Plus, having plates and glasses at your fingertips makes setting the table a breeze.