The first step to sprucing is to decide how big you want the project to be, what you want to accomplish and how much you want to spend.
There's an abundance of resources to help you get through your project no matter how big or how small. Look through magazines like Veranda, Elle Décor, House Beautiful and Architectural Digest. Or check out the latest home décor products and trends in the online magazine Trendir at www.trendir.com.
Plan A. The cheap quick fix. If that's your plan for fixing the place up, maybe all you need to do is rearrange the room and get rid of clutter. Get started by removing all the accessories from the room. Consider the function and focal point of the room.
The focal point can be a piece of furniture, artwork or an architectural element in the room. Keeping in mind that you want to enhance the focal point, begin placing the essential pieces of furniture where they function best. Try to avoid the boxed in look with everything against the wall. Instead, create a softer look by placing furniture at an angle. Once you have the essential pieces in place, work with the complimentary pieces like end tables, ottomans and lamps.
Now it's time to accessorize your new room. Group your accessories by theme, content, color and texture. Pick your favorites. Redistribute them in odd numbers. Before you put any accessory in the room, consider if it really compliments the room. If it doesn't, stop! Don't put it there. Clutter makes the room look smaller, unorganized and can detract from the focus of the room.
Plan B involves more time and money, but you get to explore new options for your walls, windows, furniture and lighting.
Paint is one of the quickest and easiest ways to update a room. Faux finishes and a variety of techniques make paint a design tool with endless possibilities. Learn about the different techniques on www.profaux.com. For a simple but stylish coordinated look, Matt Knotts from High Street furniture and accessory store in Over-the-Rhine, suggests doing your walls in a flat paint finish and the woodwork the same color, but in a semi-gloss. By the way, your ceiling doesn't have to be white. Paint it a neutral color that matches the walls.
Wallpaper, like paint, can be used in a variety of ways. It's not quite as easy to wallpaper a room as it is to paint, but either will quickly change the look and feel of the room. Use the two together. Paint three walls and paper the fourth with a bold large-scale pattern for a dramatic effect. Research the possibilities for wallpapering your walls at www.doityourself.com/stry/qnadecorate2.
Decisions, decisions, decisions! There's a lot to consider with windows. Do you want to emphasize the view, hide what's outside the window or see out during the day, but cover the window at night? There's a plethora of treatments to accommodate your needs. Of course, there are blinds, shades, shutters and fabric. Be daring; don't just think of two fabric panels to cover the window. Use an item you don't usually see as a window treatment. My bathroom window topper is an old corset. It works great and it was easy. I loosened the ties until the corset fit the window. It's attached to a curtain rod with Velcro. A simple lace curtain hangs below it. Click here to check out window treatments from Home and Garden Television.
Furniture and Accessories
To me, this is the fun part. It's not as much work as painting or wallpapering. It's more shopping, mixing and matching. Key point shop around! The next time you go to Home Depot, just buy screws. Check out unique stores for fabrics, lighting fixtures and accessories.
Drop by your local furniture store chain (I really can't believe I said that). But this will work as long as you don't do one-stop-shopping there. Don't stick to one design. Visit High Street, Bova or Voltage for unique furniture with a modern look.
Update your hardware. Change the knobs on your cabinets and doors. Shop Anthropologie at www.anthropologie.com or drop in the store. It's a great place to do knob shopping.
Stretch a tight budget. Shop the thrift store, garage sales, flea markets, or trade furniture with a friend. I once traded a ring for a dining room table and four chairs. Pull together an eclectic mix of furniture by painting all the pieces the same color. In my bedroom, I have an old four drawer metal Hallmark Card display unit that I use as my dresser, a bedside hospital stand I use as my nightstand and a tall metal laundry cabinet that holds my t-shirts. It's a fun mix of furniture that are totally functional all pulled together with paint in a lovely shade of butter crème.
Don't be a chain store bore. Be creative! Add a little individuality to your home. Make it your style. Anyone can go to Pottery Barn and buy everything to match. Then you'll be just like the Joneses. You can visit the Joneses, but spruce your place up so you enjoy coming home.