Find helpful budget-friendly makeover ideas.
Make over your home with decorating tricks that don’t cost a dime!Who says you have to spend money to makeover your home? Here are some easy, fun and practical ideas for spiffing up your space without spending a cent.
Get a luxe look in under $100 with these beautiful decor accessories.Looking for big impact on a small budget? We challenge some of Canada’s designers to share how they achieve a modern luxe look for less than $100.
“Splurge on a marble tile backsplash – a small area like this can come in for less than $100 if you do the labour yourself.” - Nam Dang-Mitchell, Nam Dang-Mitchell Design.
“Sheathe an obtrusive bulkhead in reclaimed barnboard to add character and interest. The wood we used here was actually found in an abandoned barn in the country.” - Nam Dang-Mitchell, Nam Dang-Mitchell Design.
“Make a sculptural centrepiece inspired by real cherry blossom branches. Strip the bark from an interestingly shaped branch and remove the buds from a silk flower or two. Glue the buds onto the branch in an organic pattern for an effect that will last for seasons.” - Ryan Martin & Amy Kent, Croma Design.
“A chic way to save money while searching for your dream dining room light fixture is to install an ultra-affordable three-foot-wide Chinese paper lantern. The white globe looks fantastic, plus it glows softly when lit to create a wonderful atmosphere for dining.” - Colleen McGill, McGill Design Group.
“Make a bland room bold by painting stripes on the walls: vertical for low ceilings, horizontal for high.” - Scott Yetman, Scott Yetman Design.
“Luxe up a room by upgrading your toss cushion inserts from fibre to decadent down. IKEA ones are cheap – they’re the best-kept secret!” - David Overholt, David Overholt Interior Design, 416-944-0358.
“When I travel, I love to buy vintage prints and fabrics. Framing the prints in inexpensive frames and creating a collage of photos is a great way to make a big impact. I also love to stretch the fabrics on frames made for canvases as they are works of art in their own right.” - Alykhan Velji, Alykhan Velji designs.
“If the word stencilling conjures images of bad 1980s sponge designs, prepare to be amazed. Royal Design Studio has amazing Moroccan and Indian-style stencils you can use on furniture, stair risers, floors and walls for an ornate, impactful look.” - Samantha Sacks, Sam Sacks Design.
“Why not test out your creative skills and try your hand at some abstract expressionist painting? Grab a canvas and some acrylic paints in your chosen colour scheme and, who knows, you could be the next Jackson Pollock!” - Jessica Kelly, Jessica Kelly Design.
“A ceiling medallion adds instant architectural appeal, formality and elegance to a space. These ones were less than $75 each!” - Trevor Ciona & Curtis Elmy, Atmosphere Interior Design.
“Make personalized art with your own Hipstamatic or Instagram snapshots – the apps have beautiful filters, and smartphones take good-quality photos. Choose an inexpensive frame and splurge on the mat for a high-end professional effect.” - Samantha Sacks, Sam Sacks Design.
"Give an instant lift to your kitchen cabinetry with new hardware. Restoration Hardware’s Duluth pulls in polished nickel make a striking style statement.” - Colleen McGill, McGill Design Group.
Learn how to add art to your space on a budget.
Art is always in style, no matter the season. Here are 10 simple ways to add art to your home on a budget.
Individuality is in, cookie-cutter is out. Need a surefire way to add personality and verve to your home? Original art is the easy and enjoyable way to do it. But if the recession’s given you the blues -- or put you into the red -- here are 10 simple ways to add art on a budget.
1 Get 'em while they're young
The most affordable artwork comes from emerging artists, often for three figures or less. If you want your collection to include "name”"artists, expect to pay more -- a lot more -- due to supply and demand, and because costs must recoup expenses like a dealer’s cut, studio maintenance, assistant salaries etc.
If you're keen to buy art you love, which is the approach you should take because your chances of making a future killing on "investment" pieces aren’t great, truth be told, browse the local gallery circuit to see what’s on display at the independent galleries.
Check the websites of galleries in your city and subscribe to their e-newsletters so you’ll know whenever a group show is coming up. Bring your cash or checkbook and strike if you see something you love: it may go fast.
2 Buy art books
Art books are another option. If you love browsing, keep your books in an accessible spot on the coffee table. Or if you're not averse to a bit of slicing, cut out a page and frame it so you can enjoy it all the time. Carte Blanche, V.2: Painting came out in 2008 and features a juried selection of work from Canada’s top emerging, mid-career and established painters. (Volume 1 focuses on photographers.)
3 Turn your vacation shots into wall art
Print your digital vacation snapshots onto photo transfer paper and transfer them onto a canvas. Mount the canvases onto the wall, unframed.
4 Enlist the kids
Frame your kids' paintings. Or give them a canvas or board and glue gun (if they're old enough), and let them go nuts on a mixed media project. Who knows, maybe Jr.'s the next Marla Olmstead, a child prodigy artist featured in the doc My Kid Could Paint That. Olmstead's abstract canvases, compared by The New York Times and BBC to Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky, have sold for thousands of dollars!
5 Skip the canvas and button up
Toronto's Gallery TPW offers a set of 10 buttons featuring the photo-, text- or found-art based designs of 10 up-and-coming artists in Button Glutton 2006. Mount them inside a shadow box, or take a more creative approach by pinning them onto cushions or upholstery. The cost? A mere $50 plus $5 shipping.
6 Make like Andy Warhol
The Pop Art provocateur was right: commercial packaging design can be beautiful. The next time you find yourself admiring some packaging, mount it. Or take a cool can (Chinese water chestnuts, Italian pasta sauce, artisanal coffee) and use it as a cool, recycled flower pot.
7 Buy student work
Many art and design colleges and universities have end-of-the-year studio sales. They're a great way to pick up paintings, prints, mixed-media and textile pieces from the next generation of emerging artists at cut-rate prices. Search your local institution’s website for details.
8 Frame your old LPs
CDs and digital music files are convenient. But the golden age of album-cover art definitely was during vinyl’s heyday. (This may be one of the reasons why vinyl's currently undergoing a resurgence among music fans these days.) Got some great album covers kicking around? Display them in custom frames.
9 Rent before you buy
Ultimately, the best way to support living artists is to buy their work. But if you're not sure you can live with an expenditure in the up-to thousands of dollars, consider "testing" the goods by renting them first. The Art Gallery of Ontario, for instance, rents pieces for as little as $20/month. A portion of rent can usually be applied towards the purchase of a piece if you realize you can't live without it. And if you're commitment-phobic, renting lets you enjoy art while supporting your local gallery.
10 Give some, get some
And now for something a bit different: If you're thinking now's the time to bust some taboos or confront your body-image issues, consider signing up to be a nude figure model. (Journalist Emily Yoffe of Slate.com did it to humourous effect here). For safety's sake, only work in a studio setting at an established art college or school. See a sketch of yourself that you like? Speak up: chances are you can either buy it cheap or get it for free from the student artist. Bonus: getting paid to hold those poses!
Narrow kitchen renovation gets a sleek and spacious makeover
A confined and outdated kitchen is converted into a character-filled cooking space fit for a family of five.
Live in a house for more than a decade and you’ll grow close to all of its idiosyncrasies – every cramped corner, every tarnished knob and every cleverly disguised wine stain. What’s harder to detect is its potential. For Christine and John Stergiu, who live in Whitby, Ont., with their three children (ages 14 to 20), it was designer and friend Orsi Panos who saw the promise in their 37-year-old home. “They were contemplating moving,” says Orsi. “So I went over there for a consultation and said, ‘You know what? I can make this the house of your dreams.’” Then in 2014 came the five-month two-level renovation, which involved gutting the narrow and outdated kitchen to make way for a functional open-concept cooking space. Here’s how they made it happen.
THEN The family prepared meals at a tiny butcher-block island.
NOW The hard-working quartz-topped island, which doubles as a dining space, has a microwave and bank of drawers tucked underneath to enhance its ease of use. “We used to run downstairs to the storage room for extra pots and pans,” says homeowner Christine Stergiu. “Now we have everything at our fingertips.”
Using blank wall space allowed the family to store items and avoid clutter on the countertops.
The industrial-style pendant lights add old-world charm and keep sightlines clear. “I wanted the herringbone backsplash and rustic floating shelves to be the focal point of the kitchen,” says designer Orsi Panos.
A wall of cabinetry, including two pullout pantry units, offers ample storage. The recess-panelled cabinets, which were updated with brass hardware and crown moulding, masterfully mingle with the cream-toned quartz countertops and vintage-inspired accents throughout. “I wanted to create a space that looks like it’s been here forever,” says Orsi. It’s the reason she dismissed white cabinets in favour of grey and added country-style open shelves – a design choice inspired by the couple’s affection for Sonoma County in California. “The shelves represent that rustic winery feel,” she says.
In order for the kitchen to meet the family’s needs, high-end appliances were a necessity – especially for homeowner John Stergiu, who is considered the chef of the household. “We cook together five days a week and entertain at least twice a month,” says Christine. In addition to the space’s sleek stainless steel refrigerator and six-burner gas range, the self-proclaimed foodies opted for a wine fridge, which stores everything from vintages to water bottles. “We’re constantly in the kitchen,” she says. “The room completely represents our lifestyle.”
With its awkward angles and hard-to-reach cabinets, the original kitchen made meal prep a constant challenge. To remedy the flawed set-up, Orsi had the wall between the kitchen and adjacent dining room knocked down so the two areas could become one. “We ended up with a beautiful open space filled with natural light,” says Orsi, referring to the west-facing window that was once part of the dining room. After one kitchen entrance was closed off, the remaining doorway was expanded to create a more spacious feel and offer a view of the dreamy new dining room down the hall.