Life & Beauty Weekly: Life & Love

By Elizabeth Brownfield for Life & Beauty Weekly


Redecorating a room is one of the best ways to breathe new life into your surroundings — and help you feel more energized. But the word “redecorate” can be intimidating; dollar signs start popping into your head, as does your packed schedule, leaving you wondering where you’ll find the time or money.

Fortunately, you can redecorate on a budget — one of money and time. “Anyone can make an impact with a small budget,” says Tommy Smythe, Sarah Richardson’s “design sidekick” in Sarah’s House 3 on HGTV. Here are Smythe’s low-cost, high-impact decorating strategies:

1. Embrace accessories
“Changing the accessories in a room is like transforming an outfit by switching up the jewellery,” Smythe says. “And the added bonus here is pillows cost less than diamonds!”

Keep your old items on hand and you’ll swap them in mid-year to create two seasonal looks. Pillow covers versus new pillows help keep costs down, and not using the same rug year-round means both last twice as long.

2. Rethink artwork
While pictures and paintings are essential elements to any home, they’re not the only options, Smythe notes. “Mirrors are a great way to reflect light and add sparkle to any wall, and they come in every size, shape and style imaginable.” He recommends placing one across from a window or somewhere where it reflects something interesting (besides you, of course!).

For more ideas, look to postcards, snapshots, kids’ drawings, posters and even wallpaper and fabric scraps, which can all be cut and put into inexpensive frames to create a quirky, personal home gallery.

3. Use your library
Take a few of your coolest books off the shelves and incorporate them into your décor. Stack a few with similarly coloured jackets or focus them on a theme, such as travel (mix a guidebook, an Italian cookbook, a photography book of Alaska and your copy of Eat, Pray, Love together).

4. Create an accent wall
Painting or wallpapering an entire room is a pricey undertaking. Instead, do just one wall to create a focal point. “It’s important to choose an accent wall that makes an impact,” says Smythe. “The sofa wall in the living room or the headboard wall in the bedroom are always safe bets because they have substantial enough furniture to anchor the dramatic effect.”

To select the right paint, pick a shade that’s in nearby furniture or other décor, suggests Smythe. “The accent wall only works if there’s a cohesive room scheme to support it.” If you’re decorating with wallpaper, small rooms like bathrooms, foyers and hallways often produce the best results. Also consider inexpensive vinyl wallpaper. It’s twice the width of regular rolls, making it a cinch to hang. Plus, vinyl is durable and easy to clean. “Vinyl wallpaper has come a long way!” Smythe says. “For hallways and other high traffic areas it can provide a wipeable surface that doesn’t skimp on visual impact.”

Elizabeth Brownfield has been on the editorial staffs of Metropolitan Home, Domino, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. She is also a writer for and 
is a frequent contributor to
Life & Beauty Weekly.

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