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Budget-friendly home decor ideas

I absolutely love home decorating. And while I love to update my home's decor, redecorating a home — or even a room — can be pretty pricey. Regardless of whether you are decorating your first home or updating the family estate, learning how to become a savvy decorator could save you thousands down the road — money that could be better spent on college educations and family vacations.

If you are determined to create a space that looks like a magazine centerfold without the designer cost, check out the five steps below to completely transform your favorite spaces. You can pace your renovation progress by choosing to focus on one step or follow each of the five steps consecutively to completely update your room's decor without busting the family budget.

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• Painting. If you ask a contractor what one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to redecorate a room is, they would most likely say painting. Adding a few coats of color, whether it be a bright bold or a soothing neutral, can instantly freshen up a room that was previously drab or outdated. For a finished look, be sure to paint the ceiling, walls and trim — and even the doors, if applicable. High-quality paint can be very expensive, so be creative about your painting efforts. Check out the "mistake" cans at home improvement stores. Many times when a color is mixed for a customer and it is not quite what the customer wanted, the store will put those cans on sale at a heavily discounted price. In addition, be sure to check out sample sales held by large brands such as Behr and Valspar. Sample sales allow you to purchase small quantities of paint — typically a pint — at a very low price, so that you can test various colors before fully committing to an entire room.

• Upcycle furniture. After your walls are painted, your next task will be to upgrade your furniture. In lieu of purchasing new furniture, you have several options. You could choose to sand and stain or paint the pieces in the room. Darkening or lightening the color of the furniture can easily change the feel of the room. You can even try installing new hardware on dressers or desks. Hardware can be found at very low rates online on sites such as eBay, or at local consignment or thrift shops. In addition, you could also choose to completely change the function of the item. For example, if your little one has outgrown his or her crib, upcycle it into a TV stand or turn an old dresser into a new headboard for your bedroom. Most of these projects can be completed using tools you most likely already have at home such as a drill, screws and a hammer.

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• Love your linens. Your next step will be to work on replacing old linens. Again, search online or shop yard sales and thrift stores for items such as bed linens, curtains and rugs. Or if you are experienced at sewing, purchase inexpensive fabric from a craft store and make your own. If new linens just aren't in the budget, give your linens a good deep cleaning. Dust and hair can accumulate on linens rather quickly, so cleaning will brighten them up and hopefully return them to their original color.

• DIY art. After you've taken care of the basics, it's time to begin decorating. If you're a creative person — or even if you are not — there are tons of DIY wall art projects that can be completed for less than $25. For example, try creating a mosaic on canvas — which can be purchased at craft stores — using old, colorful glass or tile. Break up the mosaic material and glue to the canvas to create a pattern. Or, try assembling a beautiful shadow box to display your memories. Purchase a shadow box — available in many sizes — at a local craft store and decorate to match the decor of the room. Inside, place items that match your decor. For example, for an ocean-themed bathroom, add items like sand, starfish and seashells. In addition, projects such as basic acrylic paintings, stenciled plaques and painted wooden carvings — like letters or numbers — can add pizazz to a room and give it a polished look.

• Finish the look. Your last step is to complete the look by using various items to complement the decor of the room. This step is very similar to how a necklace and pair of earrings can make an outfit look polished. It is recommended that you first look for items that are free. The first place to find those are in your in own home. Look around and see if there are items that you can use to brighten up or enhance the area. Natural items are also great for seasonal decorating. Items like flowers, leaves, berries, branches and pebbles can be found in your own backyard for free and make great decorating materials, especially when coated with glitter or paint. In addition, check online for free items on websites like Craigslist, Facebook — free yard sale groups — and Freecycle.

Regardless of whether you only choose to follow one of these steps or all of them, you will see an immediate improvement in your room's appearance and won't break the bank in the process.

Danielle Moser is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at threepeasservices@gmail.com.

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