Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Design on a Dime

You don't need to spend a lot of money to create a well designed space. One of the best things you can do is educate yourself and get a good handle on the design elements and principles. This will help you to analyze, identify, and evaluate your needs, and how you can best fulfill them. The next thing to do is roll up your sleeves and get to work! Here are some penny-pinching tips that can help:

#1: Clean it up

No matter what a house looks like, if it is clean and organized the appearance and atmosphere will instantly be improved. Here are some tips to help you do it:
- Create a regular cleaning routine (ex: 1/week)
- incorporate regular "tidy-up" times into your daily routine
- involve the whole family
-Use clever storage in each room-preferably concealed (things like storage ottoman's, baskets, shelving, etc). This can make tidying up quick and easy.
- Identify and think of creative solutions for "drop-zones" (places where clutter can easily collect).
-Sell un-used/unwanted items, or donate them to charity at least 1/year.



#2: Paint it

Next to cleaning, a fresh coat of paint is the most cost-effective way to improve your home. Today there are products which allow you to paint almost anything! Paint can transform a space or object by updating it and giving it a new life and identity. How do you know if something is salvageable with paint? Design elements. If you are okay (even if you're not thrilled) with the line/shape/form, etc of the object or space, but not the colour - paint it, you may be surprised by the results!



#3: Do-It-Yourself

You can save a bundle by learning to do things yourself as well as gaining self-confidence, skills and abilities!

a. Construction
- Invest in some tools and learn how to use them.
- Have skilled friends or family members teach you how to do things, attend seminars (often held at building supply stores such as The Home Depot), research your project online, etc.

b. Sewing
- Invest in a sewing machine and learn how to use it. Save money and get that coordinated, custom-look!

c. Art-Work
Create your own art-work, use photographs you've taken yourself, frame pieces of material, research projects online, etc (only limited by your imagination!). It's not only cost- effective, it's fun!

#4: Look for Bargains

If you absolutely need to acquire something new - start with the least expensive route and then work your way up. If you can't find exactly what you want, you may be able to get a good deal on something that's close enough and then paint/cover/or alter it to be what you want.

-Look for the item used first (garage sales, flea markets, Kijiji, Ebay, etc), you'll be surprised at what you can find!
-Next, check for discounts on display models, check "as-is" and clearance sections, clip coupons, or wait for things to go on sale
-Sleep on decisions to purchase, and resist the "impulse buy"
-Shop around
-ask for a discount - it never hurts to ask!

#5: Plan and Practice

Do not short yourself in the planning department. Think, investigate, visualize, sketch, etc, until you have a very solid idea of what you want to do and how you are going to do it. Do not even think about taking action, until you have your project very well mapped out from start to finish. An extra hour spent in careful planning can save hours of wasted time and money by preventing mistakes and "do-overs."

When you're ready to begin, be sure to use trial-runs, practice pieces, or test patches. If possible, enlist a friend or family member who has worked on a project similar to yours to walk you through it. Many costly mistakes can be avoided by performing a "practice run."

What other cost-cutting techniques have you employed?

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