Small-Space Bungalow on a Budget

Steal the ingenious ideas that make this small bungalow a powerhouse of do-it-yourself style to give your own home a DIY decorating overhaul.


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red family room
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Starting Point: Family Room

    This bold and fun family room started out as an out-of-date, wallpapered white-box room. To set the scene for the funky mix of traditional and sleek styles, the homeowners nailed up paneling, molding, and beaded board (including the wainscoting and coffered ceiling) and opted to paint over the wallpaper rather than hassle with time-consuming removal.

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Resourceful Accessories

    If you can't find artwork that fits your style or your budget, make your own. These high-impact pieces? A framed construction paper collage and vintage wallpaper samples. The coral? Spray-painted sea sponges.

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Fan Fabulous

    Bored with your ho-hum lights? Reinvent the ceiling fan light fixture by spray-painting it white (or any other color in your palette) and replacing the glass globe with a drum-style shade.

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Be the Designer: Dining Room

    Adhere to the philosophy of design empowerment -- meaning, to borrow a familiar slogan, "just do it." This dining room needed a splash of color, stylishly provided by a chocolate brown accent wall. But you could just as easily grab a few art canvases and slap some paint on them or create an abstract collage from colorful paper. Frame it, and it's original artwork.

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Finders, Keepers

    This old plywood sign, salvaged from a nearby manufacturing plant, was a bargain find. It not only pulls in the coral hue from the adjacent sunroom, it's also a great dinner conversation piece.

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Nod to Nostalgia

    The liquor cart is a throwback to the cocktail hour aesthetic of the 1940s and 1950s. When guests are over, it doubles as a buffet or as a popcorn and snack station for slumber parties. Make the artwork by splattering leftover paint on purchased canvases.

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Shape Up Your Displays

    For artistically styled shelves, assemble flat, curvy, narrow, and wide shapes to mix and match. Also try blending matte, shiny, and rustic finishes for textural interest. Mismatched hardback books become accents with this trick: Turn the jackets inside out for a unified look.

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No-Stress Living Room

    Don't be afraid to incorporate pieces at varying price points with different looks. Forget the perfection of furniture showrooms and start layering the fabulous wares you find as you come across them, whether they're from discount retailers or a high-end boutique. The reading corner in this living room came together with a piece of distressed tin snatched from someone's garbage. A reupholstered hand-me-down chair coupled with nesting tables from Target, and a pricier lamp from Williams-Sonoma Home round out the high-low look.

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Rework an Eyesore

    Radiators take up a lot of space but they can be charming, too. A painted plank set on top creates a handy ledge for lighting and display. The curtains hung behind are just lengths of hemmed men's suiting fabric.

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Make an Entrance

    Like many small homes, this one lacked a formal foyer, so a focal point was created with a lamp, mirror, table, and art objects opposite the front door.

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Stapled Texture

    Covering the chimney wall in grass cloth introduces texture and a neutral color to the living room. To get this look, pick an accent wall (niches work great) and pull a length of grass cloth taut over it, stapling top to bottom, then on both sides to avoid bunching. Check hardware stores for copper-color staples to blend in with the grass cloth.

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