Tips and Tricks

I’ve been decorating the bedroom and I’ll have a post about that on Monday, but as I was pulling everything together in there, it occurred to me to do a post about tips and tricks. I’m not sure if these will be “duh” or “brilliant,” but I hope this little miscellany can benefit someone.

Think outside the box. Consider using items for something other than the manufacturer intended. It can be as small as using a cheese tray as a coaster, as big as re-purposing doors, or as simple as using sheets for curtains.

I know it is hard to tell what's going on here. I'll show you more on Monday.

I know it is hard to tell what’s going on here. I’ll show you more on Monday.

I love leaning floor mirrors, but they are pricey! Heck, even at Walmart you’ll pay nearly $300 for one this size. You know what they remind me of? Those mirrored closet doors that everyone gets rid of when they renovate. If you aren’t renovating, you could get one at a Habit for Humanity Restore. I see them all the time for $5-10.updated mirrored closet door

mirrored closet door

The original frame was about one inch wide.

new molding

We added a piece of molding that was 5 inches.

This door leaned against the wall in my entry and/or bedroom for almost five years before I got around to making a frame for it. It was pretty enough with just the original frame, so it always got bumped down the list. We finally added a frame sometime last year. I think it was Summer and I was plowing through the to-do list before school started. We spent about $12 on molding. So even if you had to buy a used door, you could have this over-sized leaning floor mirror for twenty bucks.

Curtain panels are not cheap. Even the cheap ones are not inexpensive. I mean, maybe not so bad per panel, but when you have to do window treatments throughout an entire house, it adds up fast. Spend your money on blinds that you’ll keep for decades. Scrimp on curtains you’ll change out in three years. (Or maybe that’s just me?) Sewing them yourself is one affordable option, or be creative. These are flat twin sheets. Five bucks a pop at Walmart. The middle one was cut in half. So, for $25 I have six panels and they are long enough that you can use the extra for pillows or something. (Also consider table cloths. A standard rectangular table cloth is the same length as standard curtain panels…both are 84″.)

sheet curtains

Hang your curtains high and wide. The windows in this room are skinny. (You can see a pic of them at the bottom of this post.) They also are positioned so that the bed ends right in the middle of them instead of to where I could put the night stands perfectly centered in front of them and all would be right with the universe. Awww, symmetry is glorious. But no. Because people had queen size beds when this house was built. It is perfectly spaced for that, but we have a king. By hanging the curtains much wider than the window, I can scoot the middle curtain panel to where the nightstand can be centered on it, even though that isn’t exactly where the window is located. Plus it gives me a bit more grandeur than having just one little skinny curtain. Also, the ceilings are only 7.5 feet high in here. Placing the curtains higher up on the wall draws your eye up and around the crown molding, distracting from the low ceiling.

Don’t make extra work for yourself. Use templates whenever possible. Don’t remeasure every time. I used a book in this case, but cardboard works, too. I knew the distance from the molding that I wanted to hang my curtain rod, but I didn’t want to remeasure a thousand times (this is from the living room, I forgot to get a pic in the bedroom). book template

This book was on the desk when I walked by to find a piece of cardboard to cut to my dimensions. It looked close to my dimensions, so I measured and it was less than a quarter inch off from what I was thinking I wanted. Whoa, awesome! Close enough. I grabbed it and used it as my guide around all three windows (6 sides) in the living room and two windows in the bedroom (4 sides). So, that saved me measuring up and out on ten sides. That’s 20 measurements I didn’t have to make. That’s like enough time to clean the kitchen. Or check facebook. (This book is great for perfectionist kids, by the way. Or even adults. Ha.)

Don’t overlook accessories because they are the wrong color. Not everything in the world can be spray painted, but almost. Likewise, a tiny bit of acrylic craft paint (those little bottles are less than a dollar) can go a long way in making an almost-right-for-my-space item work perfectly. I spotted this ikat inspired “M” on the clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby. It was turquoise and purple. I don’t even like purple (no offense to those who do), so I have zero of it in my home, but I really wanted this “M.” (Because I only have 38 in my house so far. Just kidding. I think.)purple turquoise ikat

You know what color I do like? Gray! I first thought green, but then I remembered that I have green and turquoise ikat pillows on my sofa and that’s just a bit too matchy-matchy for my taste. (But not everyone’s.) So I’m going with gray instead, and will use this “M” in the bedroom. M ikat monogram

Swing by the as-is/clearance section. I go straight to the clearance aisles in all my favorite stores. Sure, that stuff is supposedly there because no one wanted it, so it must be ugly or cheap. Or maybe it is just purple and no one likes purple this season? (That’s an awful example. Pantone named it the color of the year, and they’re the boss. Everyone likes purple right now! Except me.) Maybe it was a floor model and has a tiny little scratch on the back side? Maybe they just need to make room for new stuff because Americans are so discontent that we need a completely new line of everything every six weeks? Get over your preconceived notions. It doesn’t hurt to look.lack ikea shelf

Know the sale days and mark down days. This could be an entire post, and I’m pretty sure someone way more organized than I am has already compiled a list. Check Pinterest. But I will tell you that it is a little-known secret that IKEA marks their as-is items down another 50% the second Wednesday of the month. That could end up being a ton of savings! Granted, by time something makes it off the showroom floor into the as-is section at IKEA, fifty thousand people have probably touched it (more? How many people come through there daily?). You might not get that lucky with rugs or textiles (though I did buy a $250 sofa cover for $20), but the more durable items, or those that were hung out of reach, might be well worth it. I got this Lack shelf for $3.lack shelf

Be flexible. Sometimes houses throw you curve balls. Sometimes DIY leads to happy accidents. Sometimes you find something you love more along the way. This isn’t marriage. There are no concrete commitments. Allow yourself to go with the flow.

We prefer carpet in a bedroom, and we had budgeted for it when we first saw this house and knew the master bedroom would need new flooring. But then we crossed our fingers and did a little DIY mess making and realized we could keep the floor. Yes, we still prefer carpet. But we bought a rug that cost much less than wall-to-wall carpeting and we love it! We don’t at all feel like we settled. The best part? Now we have money for other projects! Woohoo!gray plush rug

Don’t make extra messes. Life is dirty enough and DIY just adds to it. Find creative ways to save yourself some work. Thankfully, Pinterest is full of this kind of information. How did we ever live without it? I made little dust-collecting “cups” out of masking tape and stuck them to the wall so I wouldn’t have to dust or pull out the dresser and vacuum behind it after my husband made piles of drywall dust when drilling holes for my super-cheap shelf. This is not an original idea. I think I saw it first on YHL? 20131206_21044220131206_210404 drywall dust on masking tape



Comfort comes first. I could go on and on all day about things to make your home pretty, but at the end of the day, it all comes down to comfort. Whoa. Wait right there. I did not validate puffy couches. But seriously, this is your home. It’s where you retreat from the pressures of the big, mean world outside those walls. I don’t have any advice if you can’t settle a form versus function debate within your home, but I can say that if you both agree, do it! Who cares if it’s a big no-no according to some fancy designer, or totally unacceptable says so-and-so. If you like it and it makes your home more comfortable to you, break the rules. Unless you want a puffy couch.ceiling fan

So we replaced the boob light with a ceiling fan. I know, not that crazy. And totally acceptable in this part of the country! (Why in the world did they not already have one? None of the bedrooms had them.)

Go the distance. Resist the urge to get lazy near the end of a project. Don’t call it “good enough” just because you’re tired of dealing with it. If you get a tiny bit of paint on the ceiling, touch it up. Don’t leave it there until you move ten years from now. This tip goes hand-in-hand with the next one…

Don’t forget the little details. Don’t stop with a paint job and new curtains. Fresh paint is great, but if you have yellow switch plate covers, it won’t matter. Now, I realize sometimes you have to stop because of monetary limitations. I’m not saying, “don’t stop until you’ve installed all new flooring and bought new furniture throughout the entire house.” I’m talking about very inexpensive items that will hold your room back from looking and feeling as fresh and beautiful as it could. Look at this thing. Yuck!almond plate cover

Outlet and switch plate covers cost pennies. Literally. But, it won’t matter if you put a bright, shiny, new white cover on an old yellowed switch or outlet. (See the tip above…go the distance!) Switches and outlets are also very inexpensive. Just a few more pennies.

outlet covers

Even cheaper if you buy in bulk.

And, no, you do not have to hire an electrician…which brings me to my next tip.switch

Try it yourself! This is easier (and faster!) than putting away the laundry. For real. I find that most people who say they can’t/don’t know how to do something never even tried. Use common sense, of course. Don’t just cut into your wall with a chainsaw. But in this day and age, you could at least google and youtube it before you declare that you just can’t afford to get new light switches because you don’t know how to replace them yourself and can’t afford the labor. Or before you hire a plumber to tighten a bolt to stop a leak. Keep your money for pretty things, like new rugs! Or for fun things, like making memories with your family! Or for goodness’ sake, pay off those student loans and credit cards! Give it to the poor! Do anything with it besides throw it away on labor you could be doing yourself. *steps off soapbox*

These are just the tips and tricks I used while putting our master bedroom together. I hope you learned something, or were at least amused by my resourcefulness. I can’t wait to finish the room and show it to you on Monday. Have a great weekend, you guys!