Design Hints

Stretch Your Decorating Dollar

Pinching pennies doesnt mean you have to skimp on style! Read up on great ways to get the most out of your makeover money.

These days, everyone is looking at the bottom line, yet it's more important than ever that our homes be a comfortable retreat from the stresses of everyday life. Although Penny Ralston, whose house is featured in the March 2009 issue of Country Sampler, bought a lot of new things for her Kansas home's makeover, she shopped discount stores and sought out sales. Here are some of her ideas to make the most of your decorating dollar:

Swap Your Style: Penny and her sister sometimes trade furniture and accessory pieces to give their homes a fresh look without spending a cent. "I can't wear her clothes, but we share accents and swap furniture pieces," Penny says. "Right now, she has a sideboard and an oak table of mine in her house."

Splurge on Something You Love: Whether it's a sentimental sign that lifts your spirits, a few colorful toss pillows that give your old love seat a new look, or a pair of pretty lamps, a new accessory or two can revive a room for relatively little cost. Penny especially likes to treat herself to signs and word-themed accents, such as the "Giggle" sign in the sunroom, that give her budget-friendly style a big boost.

Re-create or Repurpose: Turn something old, or a part of something old, into a new piece for your home. Penny loves to reinvent vintage sewing machine bases; she's transformed several into interesting side tables, topping them with old wood tabletops, glass, iron grates or decorative metal wall plaques. She's also added glass tops to metal barstools to create unique accent tables.

Fashion a Face-Lift: Instead of getting all new cabinetry or dressers, try revamping your furnishings first with fresh paint and new hardware. In her green guest bedroom and bathroom, Penny replaced old cabinet knobs and pulls with pink versions that add modern flair for just a few dollars each.

Written by Lisa Sloan
Photographed by Bill Mathews
Styled by Gloria Gale