Small budget, big difference: Easy ways to perk up a room

October 02, 1994|By Elaine Markoutsas | Elaine Markoutsas,Universal Press Syndicate

If your favorite room could use a makeover, but a quick fix is all your budget allows, take heart. Design cosmetics, deftly applied, can be as dramatic as a room re-do. The best part is, they don't have to cost a bundle.

To get your creative juices flowing, here are five ideas that will help spruce up almost any room in the house. None of these perk-ups involves moving or acquiring even a stitch of furniture, except for building on something you already have.

Take the bedroom and its centerpiece, the bed. You don't need an elegant four-poster bed to make a room. But if you don't even have a headboard, simply adding one can make a big difference.

The Bombay Company catalog offers a mahogany-finished frame with brass medallion accents, which is patterned after a 19th-century sleigh bed. What makes this headboard appealing is its padded, muslin-covered inset, which allows you to slip in the fabric of your choice. A pretty floral pattern on a sage green ground with a fabric to match the bed skirt is shown in the catalog.

The headboards stand 40 inches high (except for the king size, which is 3 inches taller), and are 3 inches deep. The twin headboard sells for $199, the full/queen for $249, and the king, $299. Insert your own fabric, even a bed sheet, and you've added warmth and sophistication.

The Alex & Ivy Country catalog offers an all-upholstered version, which comes on square legs and attaches to any standard bed frame. The muslin-covered headboard is $199.

The catalog also shows two cover options for the headboard, one in a perky pink plaid and the other in a cream-colored herringbone jute. Both are 100 percent cotton and machine washable, and they sell for $69 (twin), $79 (queen) and $99 (king). Pillow shams and accent pillows to match are also available.

The simplest way to make a statement in the bathroom is with the shower curtain. In addition to printed clear plastics and vinyls, cottons and cotton blends are available in a range of colors and patterns from opulent to whimsical even with current favorites such as celestial themes.

Astro, which depicts a blazing sun, plants, a moon and stars, makes a bold statement. Yet its taupe, black and cinnamon coloration is a nice muted balance. The shower curtain from Jakson, a CHF company, is made of DPC (double polished clear) vinyl. At just $12.99 at Kmart and Wal Mart stores, among others responding to out-of-this-world whims is easy.

You might choose a rich paisley such as the Imperial pattern from Jakson. Available in earth tones or shades of jade green, the classic design is enhanced with subtle metallic accents, and it sells for less than $20.

If the log cabin look is more your style, there's Northwoods, a forest green buffalo-check shower curtain by Fifth Avenue, a brand of Dawson Home Fashions Inc. It's made of 100 percent polyester taffeta treated with DuPont Teflon fabric protector for water and stain resistance. It's priced between $24 and $30.

Bedrooms and bathrooms are obvious areas for quick spruce-ups, but stairways are not so obvious. Rugs can add a lot to these sometimes overlooked parts of the house, and they needn't be expensive to create impact. Consider three charming runners created by Claire Murray, an artist who has been reviving the craft of hooked rugs.

One traditional pattern, on a red ground, features rows of old-fashioned schoolhouses, each of identical design, but in different colors. The simplicity of the images and their cheerful colors transform a stairway painted dark green. The hand-hooked rug is a delightful piece of folk art that can be enjoyed day after day. The 22-by-69-inch runner sells for $265. On entry stairs, it would lend a welcoming touch.

An allover pattern of buttons and Victorian circles is another intriguing design. The multicolored circles on a black ground was a pioneer favorite; today, it may equally suit period or contemporary architectural styles. The 24-by-67-inch runner costs $359.

For garden enthusiasts, another engaging runner captures flowers from A to Z in an alphabet garden, with each letter representing a particular flower, whose image is colorfully shown behind it. With typical colors for asters, bleeding hearts or zinnias against a pale blue ground with white letters, each

design is set off by white squares. The rug is a conversation piece, with its attractive vine and striped borders. The botanical alphabet runner measures 29 by 118 inches and sells for $499.

Part of the draw of the hooked rug is that it's handcrafted. Pieces that are embroidered, needlepointed or otherwise hand-stitched can do much to warm a room.

Another way to literally warm a room, as well as add a simple but elegant touch, is with shutters. Many designers favor the use of large-scale plantation shutters, because they can compensate for lack of interesting interior details and they create an impressive backdrop.

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