Color on a Budget

This loft has a look that is as hot as it is cool. Its secret? A tight budget, which led to wielding color instead of cash, deploying savvy accessories, and arranging furniture to divide the wide-open spaces. No loft for you? No matter. These colorful ideas work in all home types.


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The first step to successfully sticking to a budget and infusing color in any space is to work with what you already have. Instead of cash being spent on cover-ups, this loft's soaring windows and brick walls, duct work, trusses, pipes, and columns become part of the style.

Simple but vibrant student art lines the wall, creating a stunning focal point to the living room. The homeowner framed and matted each piece using thin black frames and clean white mats for a minimalist look that allows the art to shine.

Colorful Accessories

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A blank canvas made of a neutral dining room table and chairs gets punch from bold, colorful accessories. Find items like these at any discount store and fill them with flowers or leave them empty.

Frame a Series

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For the homeowner's client meeting area, she bought a $1,000 orange cabinet at an inventory reduction sale for $400 and paired it with a huge rug for $800. That savings afforded the chic $300 acrylic chairs. Rather than investing in one massive artwork, frame a series of midsize prints to fill a wall. Abstract art is filled with bright colors and imaginative shapes.

Open Space

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Think of walls as your larger-than-life canvases. Take a cue from this open-plan loft and use bold colors to define living areas. If you don't like a color, you can always repaint it.

Use large rugs, changes in wall color, and furniture placement (the turned back of a sofa or chairs) to further separate areas within an open space.

Deep Wall Color

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Juxtapose light-hue furniture against a saturated wall color to create a punchy focal point. Too many accessories can spoil the room, as can too many decorating styles. A clean, uncluttered space lets things stand out.

Treat with Textures

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Small, colorful accessories such as shimmery pillows in the bedroom, glass and ceramic vases, nubby throws, and furry rugs add zing -- and are affordable to replace as your taste changes.

Like what you see in this story? As of 2006, the items featured in this story were available from these manufacturers.

Framed and matted artwork - Darla's School, Houston; 713-523-2114; www.darlas.org. Slipcovered sofa and chair, orange, rug, ottoman, bed - Storehouse, Inc.; 888-786-7346; www.storehouse.com. Striped vase Jonathan Adler, throw and pillow on chair - Kuhl-Linscomb, Houston; 713-526-6000; www.kuhl-linscomb.com.

Table - homeowner's collection, repaired and distressed by Casa Vieja, desk, doors in background - Casa Vieja, 1538 Yale St., Houston, TX, 77008; 713-426-5435. Chairs - The Container Store; 800-786-7315; www.containerstore.com. Poster - Mark Rothko; www.markrothko.com. Clear glass vases, Vizio - Z Gallerie; 800-358-8288; www.zgallerie.com.

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