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The University of Alabama

UA Matters: Giving Your Room a Facelift … On a Budget

Stephanie Sickler

Stephanie Sickler

Our homes can feel quite empty after the last of the Christmas decorations have been returned to the attic. Feeling the need for a fresh start this New Year?

Tackle those post-Christmas blues by giving a room in your house a face-lift this month.

Your New Year’s redecorating project may be on a tight budget after braving the crowds for the perfect Christmas gifts, but The University of Alabama’s Stephanie Sickler shares a few tips to liven up any space without having to return your favorite new purse to swing it.

  • Start by rearranging the furniture. This is easier in some rooms than others, but, if your space allows, changing things up a little will bring instant life to a tired space. Don’t be afraid of creating angles or “floating” your furniture. (That is just a fancy design term for placing pieces in the middle of the room, creating walkways behind or in front of them, rather than lining all of the furniture up against the walls.) These techniques will create visual interest and give an automatic new appearance to the room. Best of all, it’s totally free.
  • Keep your upholstered pieces neutral. If you like to change things up frequently, resist the urge to buy large pieces with a lot of color and pattern. These higher dollar items will last longer than other pieces in your room, so allow them to be like a blank canvas you can change up over and over again when you add a variety of contrasting finishing touches. If you already have pieces riddled with color and pattern, consider adding a neutral slipcover or large throw blanket to neutralize all that pattern and make room for some new accents.
  • Have a paint party. Spread some New Year’s cheer by inviting your friends over to help you paint. The local paint store will have all the tools you need to host a fun and productive work session that is sure to give your room an instant face-lift. Add some good food and friends, and make a party out of it. If you have a small space, consider high impact accents such as horizontal stripes, which will elongate the appearance of your walls. If your space is larger, consider an accent wall or applying a textured finish. With a crew of happy guests and good quality paint (think Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore), you can knock this out in no time and on a budget. Just remember to use quality paint; it will last longer and save you on applying additional coats. Be sure to ask for a satin or eggshell finish rather than flat. There is a better reflection quality with them, and these finishes are totally cleanable.
  • Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. Once you have rearranged and painted, add details to finish the look. From changing out lamp shades, to pillows, picture frames and blankets, everything you need to complete the look can be obtained inexpensively at discount stores such as Ross, TJ Maxx and World Market. If you aren’t good at coordinating things yourself, try Target where they often keep home accessories grouped together in collections, so you can see what works before you take it home to try. Helpful hint: scour your favorite magazines for examples of rooms you love. Take the pages shopping with you to help in your search. Also, when choosing throw pillows, select a variety of patterns and sizes rather than matching pairs to create a more custom look.

The bottom line: you don’t have to break the bank to spruce up after the holidays. Remember to start neutral, then add interest and emphasis with paint and accessories. Hitting up those after Christmas sales would be a great way to stock up on staples and accents to make every space feel new and special. Happy New Year!

Sickler is an assistant professor in clothing, textiles and interior design in UA’s College of Human Environmental Sciences.uamatters_logo-thumb

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UA Matters is a weekly posting that offers information and tips on consumer issues facing Alabamians. The information is available to reprint in your publication free of charge. Also, access to subject matter experts is available upon request. For more information, contact Kim Eaton at 205/348-8325 or>.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.