Look around your home. Are you pleased with what you see? Maybe you've been living with the same furniture, upholstery and decorations for years, or perhaps you have just settled into a new place and haven't yet had a chance to add your personal touches.
Whatever your situation, the prospect of redecorating can be daunting. It can also be expensive, which is why many people avoid the task altogether. Fortunately, changing your surroundings doesn't require a major renovation project. Sometimes a few small details are all you need to give a room a new look -- and yourself a fresh perspective.
The following are some simple decorating projects to try. Most take just a few hours and use equipment you probably already own.
A grouping of hanging artwork can give a bare wall character and elegance. You don't need to invest in fine pieces to achieve the look. An arrangement of wallpaper samples, matted and mounted in standard, matching frames, can do the job beautifully.
Visit hardware and decorating stores, ask for discarded sample books, and browse for patterns that appeal to you. Vintage papers can often be found at flea markets. Books of papers are generally organized by color, so it is easy to choose a selection in complementary palettes and then frame your favorite designs.
Changing tablecloth trim
If you'd like to give your table a fresh look for a special dinner, you don't necessarily have to invest in a whole new set of linens. The solution can be as simple as a plain cloth adorned with colorful, removable trim.
Fasten the trim with cloth snap tape (available in many fabric stores). It will snap off easily and can be changed to suit your mood, the season or the occasion.
Be sure to prewash the tape before beginning this project. Then measure lengths of tape to fit the edges of a prewashed tablecloth. Sew the side of the tape with the male snaps to the outside edges of the tablecloth, mitering the ends at 45 degrees to form neat corners. Cut 2 1/2 -inch-wide decorative trim slightly longer than the length of each tablecloth edge. Sew the female side of the snap tape to the underside of the trim, flush with one edge; snap it in place.
Hem the trim for the long edges to the exact length of the tablecloth edge; hem the trim for the short edges to just meet the long-edge trim.
When you want a change, just remove the trim and replace with another design.
Foldout plant ledge
If you love the look of lots of greenery clustered in front of a sunny window but don't have an abundance of windowsill space, this simple project offers a solution: Extend a windowsill by adding a hinged shelf above the apron.
Select plywood the same thickness as your sill; cut it to be as wide as the sill and 12 inches deep. Attach the bottom of the shelf to the bottom of the sill with three hinges -- one at the center, the others near the sides. To make supporting brackets, cut two right triangles from wood that is thin enough to lie flat beneath the shelf when it is folded down. The top of each bracket, once trimmed, should extend three-quarters of the way across the shelf; the short side, three-quarters down the apron. Hinge the short side of each bracket to the apron.
Paint the shelf and brackets before installing them (choose a paint with a glossy finish for the shelf so it can be easily wiped clean if any water spills). Once in place, you'll find that this shelf has many convenient uses in addition to supporting your plants: You might use it when you entertain, for example, as a handy extra surface for drinks and hors d'oeuvres.
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