Powerful Color Transforms a Timid Condo

A basic beige condo comes to life with a fearless infusion of color and clever decorating projects.

Before: Boring Beige

This compact condominium has plenty of potential with beautiful wood floors, abundant sunshine, a fireplace, and an open staircase. But the walls remain builder-white and the furniture is a dreary hodgepodge of default neutrals.

After: Colorful Personality

Kicky color and pretty patterns jump-start the space's decorating potential as the condo makes a quick shift out of neutral. A vibrant blue accent wall is complemented by its adjacency to warm yellow. The fireplace has been transformed with warm tumbled tile and a hefty mantel.

Make It Yours: Start with one piece of terrific fabric (in this case a floral print on an accent pillow) and let it lead you to a surefire color scheme for your room.

Fireplace Facelift

Fireplaces are natural focal points, but this one wasn't up for the job. Previously the fireplace was just an unadorned drywall box. Now it has enough personality to take center stage. First the homeowners updated the surround with tile. To form the mantel, a sleeve of wood was mounted to the wall, then clad with layers of crown molding.

Save Big Bucks: Tilework is a perfect do-it-yourself project.

Artful Window Treatment

How do you hang art above the fireplace when a window's in the way? This clever project does triple duty: It establishes the fireplace as a focal point, screens a utilitarian view, and still lets the sunshine in -- all with a big dose of whimsy!

Make It Yours: Start with a frame -- the type used to stretch canvas works great -- then stretch and staple sheer fabric to it. Print a clip-art image (this one's from clip-art.com) on pieces of vellum, and stitch the vellum to the fabric with embroidery floss.

Inventive Accessory

When it comes to stylish accessories, imagination trumps price every time. Here, an old globe becomes a cheeky little art object. It's not a lot of work for a piece with so much mojo!

Make It Yours: Begin with color copies of a flower or any other image that strikes your fancy. Cut the images out, then adhere them to an old globe using decoupage medium.

Pattern Makes It Personal

The neutral-slipcovered sofa provides a terrific stage for a cast of colorful pillows. The existing armchair -- a thrift shop find -- was revived with graphic striped upholstery. Above the sofa, a photo of a flower was turned into a bold, inexpensive painting.

Make It Yours: Check out our step-by-step instructions for reupholstering a chair.

DIY Art for Anyone

Channel your inner artist and astound your friends with stylish original paintings.

Take a Chance with Accessories

Accent pillows offer a super easy way to layer bold or trendy color and pattern in a room without a huge leap of faith. Small remnants of decorator fabrics and trims can easily be crafted into pillows to pump up a room's personality.

Make It Yours: For the Shasta daisy embellishments, cover large buttons with fabric, then hot-glue ribbon loops to the backs of the buttons.

Rethink Your Space

Before, the long, narrow zone across from the sofa was an afterthought, unfocused and underutilized. After, the space is a cozy reading nook perfect for lounging.

Savvy Storage: An ottoman or two tucked under a table can pull out as a footrest or extra seating without taking any space. Make it a storage ottoman for even more function.

Undercover Duty

Using slipcovers is a winning solution for households with young children or pets; when the inevitable happens, just peel the slipcovers off and toss them in the wash. They're best suited to furnishings with simple lines.

Save Big Bucks: If you sew, you can make a slipcover for just the price of fabric.

Drama in a Small Dining Room

To make a big statement in a small space, choose just a few large pieces with great lines. The space-saving round table is a perfect fit for a square room. Two unfinished wood hutches, painted soda-pop orange, add display and storage space while hugging the wall. The huge drum shade covering the chandelier provides a commanding element to unify the room.

Stitch It Up

Three runners stitched together with twine form one large area rug in the dining room. The bold central stripe of orange creates a strong sense of perspective that makes the room feel larger. The heavily textured jute contrasts with smooth surfaces to add even more drama.

Save Big Bucks: If you aren't finding the right accessory at the right price, consider a grouping. A series of small prints or mirrors can stand in for a large painting. Likewise, a cluster of three small, inexpensive pendant lights can take the place of a single chandelier over a dining table.

Color Complement

Complementary colors are hues directly across from one another on the color wheel. In this room, the hutches are painted vivid orange, which is the complement of the blue wall. When complementary colors are used together, they both appear brighter and clearer.

Make It Yours: Complementary color schemes are invigorating, so they can be good choices for dining rooms, but they are less popular for calmer spaces such as bedrooms and baths.

Big Stroke in a Small Room

The traditional chandelier was painted blue and covered with a large drum shade fashioned from sheer fabric and a disk of corrugated plastic. At night, the lit chandelier glows through the translucent shade to create a dramatic and ethereal effect.

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