Decorating on the cheap.

Big Guns is a typical aesthetically challenged boy, i.e. a big TV and comfy sofa is pretty much all he needs. But he’s also human and can appreciate a nicely decorated space; he just doesn’t know how to get there and has zero interest in the process. (He almost convinced me last week that his TV didn’t get the HGTV channel.) He went away this weekend and I went to town with paint (OSH carries Pratt & Lambert now!), Ross, Home Goods and my own stuff. I did not take any before pictures — I’m that sensitive! I find it too horrible to document extreme ugliness. You’ll just have to take my word that things were bad. This place has been a bachelor pad its entire life so there were huge patches in all the walls. I think a lot of wrestling went on there. Big Guns is renting so I was limited. Remember that old game show, Pyramid? The category: Things I can’t change: sinks, floors, window coverings, cabinets. Things I can afford to change: wall color. On the good side, his landlord is going to put in new carpet. Here are the results:

Living Room

The ubiquitous grouping of $5 Ikea mirrors, red because all dudes like red. Wall color: a safe, landlord-friendly Toasted Wheat.

$15 thrift store chair (it's Baker!) stenciled my me. (I'm so crafty.) Ikea rug scored in the clearance section. (Love it! Wanted to keep it!) Side table scored in Target clearance. $11 lamp scored at thrift store. Ugly collection of wires in the corner? Priceless. (Must learn to crop photos.)

Six pounds of dog next to their new $10 dog-toy basket which replaced a cardboard box. Ikea rug. Grungy old sofas.

The dining room.

On the bucket list: a red dining room. Now Big Guns can die happy or progress to pumpkin or midnight blue like me. Wall color: Red Clay.

The guest room.

I love this color: Stormy Seas, although the effect is more peaceful. The poster says "Trouble Makers Rock." I gave birth to one. I'm dating one. I can be one.

At a boutique I saw a pair of shiny white candle sticks but they were $24 each so I went back to my thrift store and got these for $5 and spray painted them. Please note that awesome brown/cream rug -- $15 marked down from $60 at Target. Also note Big Guns' questionable old coffee table and that it got relegated to the guest room. We all need guest rooms and metaphorical guest rooms where we can relegate friends we've outgrown and bad memories like that time you got drunk at the office Xmas party and sang karaoke with the company VP.

Best for last: The powder room.

It's really quite chic if you ignore the ugly floor, sink, faucets and mirror. The wall color is Steel Gray. Oh I love it. The vanity was grained 70s oak so I painted it linen white and added knobs. What dude invented knob less cabinets? And I know it was a dude. Drawer pulls and knobs are like jewelry. Why would one choose to go without? I don't get it. Polish glass vase from Home Goods -- $6 of awesomeness!

The wall o' mirrors. I've had these little stick 'em mirrors lying around my house for years. Didn't it turn out great? It just wouldn't be the same on another color wall. Seeing this picture makes me realize I need to paint the paper holder as well. That's that heavily-grained 70s oak I wrote about earlier. Ugh. I didn't like it then; don't like it now.

My growing list of pet peeves:

Cabinets without knobs.

Cabinets with ugly knobs. (Wasted opportunity!)

Textured walls. (There’s a special rung in hell for builders who slap and swirl the mud onto sheetrock into painful to paint/dust-collecting/spider-web-loving ugliness.

Wall to wall carpet, especially the kind made from petroleum products.

That’s the tour. Up next: the kitchen and Big Guns’ bedroom. I got a beautiful teal gray for the kitchen (Osprey) and light teal for the bedroom (Mt. Rainier.) As I age, I increasingly embrace the aesthetic of my turquoise/teal-loving grandmother. I suppose because it’s the color of the heavens and I’m headed there someday (I hope).


About eileenerb

I'm a writer, mother, consumer, reader, painter, home design junky, cat owner, ex-wife, cookie baker.
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2 Responses to Decorating on the cheap.

  1. Laura Christensen says:

    Have you ever done smooth wall? It is so tedious and time consuming, that I think most builders might choose that special rung in hell!

    • eileenerb says:

      It is tedious. When we did the kitchen, we hired this older, alcoholic couple and they were so good at it. They didn’t have to slap it on and sand, slap it on and sand. Just one round. My dad was amazed. I think holding the trowel helped manage their DTs. They finished in a two days and went off to drink.

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