Fast and Fabulous Decorating Projects

Give your home decor a lift with these easy decorating projects that are fun, fresh, and fast!

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Blue dining room
Quick Custom Wainscoting

    Add intricate architectural detailing with ease. This elegant wainscoting looks like the result of hours of elaborate work, but it just calls for a visit to a home center. The ready-made PVC latticework panels are mounted on the wall above the baseboard and topped with a chair rail made from 1x4 and 1x2 boards. Screen molding is nailed in place to hide the joints where the panels meet. Paint the raw wood pieces with white paint color-matched to the PVC.

Find the Bright Side

    Don't let the inside of a wood-stained bookcase or hutch keep beautiful display pieces in the dark. Show off the contents and lighten the decorative mood of the entire room by painting the shelves' interior backing a lively color. Add even more personality by wallpapering the inside with a fun pattern.

Bench Seating

    Dress up a dining spot with a charming bench seat. Pair an upholstered headboard with a seat-height bench to create this quaint settee with ease. Hang the headboard a few inches above the bench top so it's easy to toss on a comfortable cushion. Use anchor bolts to secure the headboard to the wall.

Easy Artwork

    Artwork doesn't have to be expensive or hard to find to be pretty and special. Gather a handful of floating frames to hang on a wall in an abstract arrangement. Fill the frames with beautiful letterpress cards, your grandmother's handkerchiefs, or anything that strikes your fancy and complements your decor.

Decorative Memo Station

    Turn a plain bulletin board into a decorative accessory that's functional, too. Display a bulletin board in a stylish frame -- try a chunky black frame for modern decor or gilded molding to fit more traditional style. Then add a decorative wall decal on the cork to dress up the memo board.

Unexpected Bookcase

    Turn a nonfunctioning fireplace into a practical and pretty storage space by outfitting it with shelves. Measure the opening and build a plywood insert to fit snugly inside. Cut shelves to fit across. Then paint the pieces and wallpaper the back of the insert. Screw the shelves in place and set the insert in the firebox.

Furniture Facelift

    Turn a tired piece of furniture into a new treasure. Search flea markets and garage sales for old furniture with good bones. This charming desk was originally a vanity table. After the mirror was removed, the table was sanded, primed, and painted. Pretty papers decoupaged onto the drawer fronts and new knobs add decorative character.

Creative Dining Display

    Think outside the box. In the dining room, try this creative alternative for a standard hutch or china cabinet. Hang a pair of bookcases horizontally on the wall, then slide a third on the floor below. Display favorite dinnerware and keep serving pieces handy in the cubbies. Install the middle bookcase at counter height so it serves double-duty as a buffet station or bar.

Mirror, Mirror On the Dresser

    Make your own mirror-covered furniture for a fraction of the cost of this glam home decor trend. Find a dresser, desk, or table with drawers from a thrift store, and freshen it up with a coat of paint. Have a hardware store cut mirrors that fit the drawer fronts and drill holes for hardware, then attach them with mirror glue. Tip: Pay extra for polished edges if kids will be using it.

Easy Upholstered Headboard

    Make a custom headboard. This contemporary patchwork-effect headboard is easy to make using scraps of coordinating fabrics. To build the base, cut 8-inch squares of stiff florist's foam, 1/4-inch plywood, and quilt batting. Glue the layers together with the quilt batting on top. Then cut fabric into squares large enough to wrap the foam boxes with at least a 1/2-inch overlap on the back.

    Staple the fabric to the back of each square with a staple gun. To assemble the headboard, cut a piece of 1/4-inch plywood large enough for the finished headboard. Line up the boxes facedown in desired pattern and attach them to each other with heavy-duty tape. Top them with the plywood, and drill wood screws at 8-inch intervals to secure all the layers. Attach ring hooks to the back of the plywood to hang the headboard on the wall.

Pretty Wall Panels

    Finding artwork to make an impact on a large, empty wall can cost a fortune. Instead, make your own for a custom look and fit. Choose sheer curtain panels to coordinate with your room's decor. Paint large stripes on the wall slightly wider than the panels. Mount short curtain rods at the ceiling to hang the curtain panels in front of the stripes.

Make an Entrance

    Transform a simple doorway into a pretty passage. Hang curtains in a standard doorway to add a soft, decorative touch to a room. For a sophisticated finish, top the curtains with a classic valance made from an architectural pediment. Paint the pediment and add wooden rope trim, if desired, for a traditional accent. Then screw hooks into the back of the valance to hang a tension rod for the panels, and screw the valance to the doorway molding.

Easy-to-Assemble Table

    Whip up a one-of-a-kind side table in a jiffy. Choose an oversize decorative serving tray -- pick up a trendy one from a home decor store or repurpose a vintage flea market find. With a dab of construction adhesive, glue the tray to the top of an adjustable-height stool for a handy table you can raise and lower.

Power of Paint

    Update a classic. A quality piece of wood furniture never goes out of style, but its finish and hardware do. Transform a dowdy, dark brown finish with glossy black paint and modern clear acrylic hardware.

Quick Photo Frames

    Turn pretty place mats into supereasy photo frames. Simply glue or tape a photo to the center of each place mat, then use removable adhesive squares to hang the finished pieces. For a hip retro look, use classic vinyl records for frames.

Clever Bath Cabinet

    Add storage and display space on a blank bathroom wall by converting an old dresser drawer into a decorative medicine cabinet. Cut a plywood shelf to fit inside and nail it in place. Paint the cabinet to match your room, and decorate the back with wallpaper or scrapbook paper, if desired (glue the paper in place before you secure the shelf). Screw eye hooks into the bottom and thread a painted dowel rod through for a towel bar.

Changeable Tabletop

    Add a custom touch to a simple end table. Sandwich a piece of scrapbook paper under the glass top of a petite bistro table. Customize with a pattern that coordinates with your decor, and change the paper with the seasons. Grass-pattern paper gives this sunroom table a garden-ready look.

Wallpaper Effect

    Try this alternative to glue-on wallpaper. Use an oversize stencil to add pattern to your walls. Paint the stencil pattern from floor to ceiling for an overall wallpaper effect. Or stencil below a chair-rail or plate-rail height, or on just one accent wall. A mottled paint finish gives this damask stencil design more dimension and texture.

Write-On Revamp

    Rescue an old frame. Transform an old mirror, window, or photo frame into a message center with paint. Choose a color that goes with your home's decor to paint the frame. Paint the mat inside the frame with chalkboard paint to create a one-of-a-kind message board.

Easy Access

    Save money by repurposing old furniture. A paint job and a new set of casters turned this old bedroom shelving unit into a rolling kitchen cart. Its shelves are perfect for holding linens and dishes. The drawer, with its updated drawer pull, can stash takeout menus.

Classy Update

    Transform a dresser with paint and wallpaper. Chic taupe paint and toile wallpaper highlight this dresser's traditional lines. Play with the position of the wallpaper until you're happy with the design, and then cut the paper to fit the drawer fronts. After painting the dresser, apply the wallpaper; protect it and the painted surfaces with an acrylic sealer.

Clear Outlook

    Create a one-of-a-kind home accent. Save money and get a custom look by building a frame around a mirrored closet door bought at a home improvement store. Use a piece of paintable textured wallcovering for the inset panel above the mirror. Surround the mirror with decorative trim to complete the look.

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