DIY Home Improvement: How to Apply Paint to Your Walls

Painting is the one job that the home handy person is more likely to tackle than any other job around the home. It ís the one where the least amount of things can go wrong, right?

Before You Get Started

But there are some things that can go wrong and you won’t know it until a few months have passed. Imagine your shock and horror when those layers of paint come flaking off, just a few months after all that hard work. How could this be? It ís simple; you didn’t wash the wall down properly first. There is mostly a layer of grease or scum that builds up on walls, particularly kitchen and bathroom, so paint will not adhere properly to the wall unless it is removed. Washing down with the proper ingredients may seem unnecessary, especially if the walls look clean, but it is one of the most important tasks.

But wait! First you must buy the proper paint. External paint for all outside painting including the covered-in veranda or deck and windowsills that get lots of sunlight; special paint for wet/steamy areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Ceiling paint for ceilings that is thicker and won’t splatter as much. Keep away from cheap paints. This is hard work and you want it to last as long as possible.

So scrub, then rinse if necessary. Allow to dry, and then fill any cracks or holes with putty. Sand the putty smooth when it is dry. Also sand back where there is any loose paint. If there are patches where there is no paint, dab those spots with a sealer/undercoat combo along with the putty spots. Place masking tape along edges where the paint is to finish and along light switches and window/door frames. If this takes all day, don’t sweat it, just do it. Many people prefer to remove the light fixtures and doorknobs completely.

Starting to Paint

Only when everything is properly prepared can you start to paint. Make sure there is plenty of air in the room; leave the doors and window open. Set the can of paint and the tray on layers of newspaper. Of course, you will have removed all the adornments such as pictures before you started. Cover all furniture that cannot be removed from the room with plastic or cotton sheets. Cover the flooring with plastic sheets. Bring in the ladder if you need it. Use a roller for large areas and a brush for the edges. Buy a good quality brush or you’ll end up with brush hairs throughout your paint. Leave the first coat to dry. If you are using a water-based paint this will only be a couple of hours, but an oil-based paint requires longer drying time.

If the original paint was in fairly good condition, you may only need one or two coats of paint, depending on the color. If you are changing the color scheme from dark to light, you may need more. Allow the paint to dry before removing the tape and replacing furniture and bric-a-brac.

Tip: If you’ve used the ladder for outside jobs, the feet may have a build-up of dried mud or dirt. Clean it off before you take it inside.

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DIY Home Improvement: How To Apply Wallpaper

Before You Start

Wallpaper application is not that hard, but it requires some specific preparation just like painting does. The job is made harder if you have to remove old wallpaper. Before you start, switch off the electricity and unscrew electrical plates. Tape over anything else. Buy a good quality wallpaper removal product and apply it with a sponge or garden-sprayer. Some wallpaper may be waterproof and so the substance won’t be able to penetrate, so go over the surface lightly with a perforating tool. The paste softener should work in about 15 minutes, and then you can start scraping.

You May Not Need To Remove the Old Wallpaper

If the wallpaper is in good condition and firmly attached to the wall, you may not need to remove it. In this case, paint over the surface. Use paint that is about the same shade as the background of the new wallpaper. All cracks and bumps need to be patched and sanded before you start. So – clean, patch, sand and prime using wallpaper primer which prevents paste and waste from being absorbed by the wall.

If You Are Removing the Old Wallpaper

Or if you are removing the original wallpaper, spray or sponge on two coats of remover and then pull off strips of paper in small or large sections, using a plastic and not metal putty knife as an aid. Then wash, putty, sand and prime the wall with special primer. It should be oil-based, since water will be used for the wallpaper paste.

Of course you will have measured the room so you know how much wallpaper you need. Now remove any head or base boards and cut the wallpaper into appropriate strips. Using a level and a pencil, mark the position of each strip lightly. Make sure you cut it so that the pattern matches up.

Two Types of Wallpaper

There are two types of wallpaper. One you must wet with water to activate the paste, the other you just pull a backing strip off gradually. For both sorts, start at the top of the wall, making sure you get it level. When doing subsequent strips, match, but don’t overlap the edges. For the wet one, lay each strip on the floor after wetting with the paste side up and wait for the paper to expand before hanging it.

Once each strip is up, smooth it gently with a damp sponge to get out any air-bubbles. A razor knife will come in handy to trim the edges. Some wallpaper must have the glue mixed and applied separately. It should be laid as above; making sure that the glue is spread as evenly as possible and has set slightly before you lift it up. Two people working together is helpful.

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Home Improvement: Structural vs. Cosmetic Improvements

Improvements or additions to your home come under two headings; structural and cosmetic. What is the difference?

Structural Changes

As the name might imply, structural changes include changes that are done to the deep structure of the house. This includes a new roof, electrical wiring or plumbing, and work on the foundations. If you decide to tear out a wall, that will be structural because it affects the internal structure. Consultation with a building professional should be sought to ensure there is no loss of strength to the rest of the house. You will also need to know if there is electrical wiring or plumbing behind the plaster. Damaging things unnecessarily is foolish and can lead to cost blowouts.

Structural work is often done to bring a dwelling up to local building standards. It could be that the flooring is not stable, or vermin have chewed through the wiring. The roof could leak and cause damage, so structural improvements are necessary. The trouble is, although it is necessary, it doesnít add that much to the actual look of the place, so if you are upgrading to resell it is not a money-spinner like cosmetic renovations often are. The buyer has a right to expect that structural conditions of the house are adequate and up to code, therefore you cannot offer that feature as a selling point to any great extent.

When planning structural work, you need to factor in the weather equation. You donít want to have the roof off in the blizzard season. If snow or wet weather is imminent, donít plan on reconstructing the flooring or pouring concrete.

Cosmetic Changes

Cosmetic changes, on the other hand, are what affects the look of the place and gives the property a wow factor. They include fresh paint or wall-paper, new carpet and window fittings, light-fitting and faucet replacements, light alterations such as new kitchen cupboards and landscaping. In general, they donít cost quite as much as structural changes, yet they add a great deal of value to the property. This is because they can be seen, and everyone wants the chance to rent or own a house that looks great.

One of the best ways to add perceived value to your property is with cosmetic changes. Often you can do them yourself, thus cutting costs even further. You donít usually need any permits or permission to do cosmetic changes. They can be done without regard to the weather in most cases, though painting requires a certain temperature range to be effective. Cosmetic changes will modernize your house and give it a good resale value, or just allow you to enjoy it more.

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How to Hire a Home Decorator on a Budget

So many of us would love to be financially free enough to not only redecorate our homes on whim and spend whatever we want, but also to hire a professional decorator. The reality for most of us is, though, that we have limited financial resources. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get some professional decorating help, if we are savvy about it.

Ask Questions in a Home Decorating Store

There are many interior design stores with professional designers who are just waiting for a customer to pop in with their decorating questions. Take a look around the store and find something that you’d like to use.

When assistance arrives, make sure to ask all the questions that you have in mind before making a purchase (if any). Remember that designers, like real estate agents, get paid on commission. So don’t go for all of their suggestions or you may end up paying a higher price than you planned for.

Browse and Ask Questions on Interior Design Websites and Internet Forums

Another way to get insight from a professional designer at a low price is to pop by an interior design website that offers advice and will answer to your questions. There are many of these sites out there with forms you can fill out with your decorating plans, measurements, and perhaps some photos, to which designers will reply with their suggestions for your decor.

Save By Doing the Easy Jobs Yourself

You can also save some money on your remodeling by tackling jobs yourself. Is there a duvet that you need to buy or get custom made? If you sew it yourself, you’ll be saving money that you could be investing in an interior designer in exchange for valuable tips. You can also do tile work, demo, or save cash by designing your own accessories or pillow covers.

Try to hire a decorator that charges per hour instead of per project (and make sure they have good reviews!). With just a few hours of their time they can give you several ideas and resources that you can later employ on your own or with the help of other professionals.

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Finding New Home Decor Ideas

If you have undertaken a few home decor remodeling jobs in the past, you may think your creativity tank is running a bit dry of new ideas. They say that everything changes, nothing stays the same. That’s certainly true of home decorating trends. But the good news is, there are countless places that you can look to get new decorating ideas!

Magazines and Catalogs

Next time you’re in a waiting room, pick up a magazine. Both catalogs and magazines are filled with home decor ideas that are just waiting to be applied. They offer fully decorated rooms, decor styles, furniture, accessories, and feasible layouts.

If you’d like to try a more classic decor style, subscribe to Pottery Barn. If you want to go for a more modern look, an IKEA catalog would give you tons of ideas.

Magazines and catalogs feature not only individual furniture and accessories, but also the concept of a room as a whole with the use of those elements.

Dropping By Furniture and Home Stores

You can also get a glimpse of decor elements in action by visiting a furniture store or walking by a window display. Home decor stores will always have the latest trends in home decor, so if you’re looking for something new, this is definitely the way to go.

Browsing the Internet

Of course, the Internet is another excellent resource of home decor information, and you can sit in your favorite easy chair with your laptop and a cup of coffee as you browse through any of thousands of choices of online stores and magazines. Here you’ll find free tips on home decor, do’s and don’ts, blogs, and articles. Many websites even feature step-by-step articles on DIY home decor, which are a good source of information if you are looking to save some money.

Decorating your home is an exciting, rewarding process. With just a little research and your own unique visions, you can get the house that you’ve always wanted – without ever moving! While home decoration requires work and effort, the results are often satisfying, and in many cases, life changing.


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Choosing a Home Decor Style

There are a few styles of decor that are prominent in today’s interior design methods. These have been transformed through years of evolution.

The main styles of decor that exist today are as follows:

Classic or traditional: The classic, traditional style appeals to order and comfort. This is a timeless look that will last for years to come and requires few accessories. Both symmetry and asymmetry are used in traditional home decor, but symmetry tends to prevail in order to achieve an organized environment that is both simple and comfortable.

Simple or casual: The casual style is based in asymmetry, low furniture, and horizontal lines that give a feeling of relaxation and peace of mind. Furniture in this style tends to be oversized, colors are natural, and fabrics inspire simplicity. Textures are used to add interest and color is splashed with the use of accents such as pillows, which also add comfort and functionality.

Formal: The formal style respects symmetry and uses objects in pairs to maintain balance and harmony. Vertical lines help offer a perception of sophistication, and furniture pieces are tall and sleek. Woodwork for this style tends to be dark but polished, with neutral colors such as cream and ivory to accentuate and contrast the wood’s smoothness and quality.

Shabby chic: This style incorporates pastel colors, vintage accessories, distressed white furniture, and floral patterns to create a warm, cozy environment. Candles add intimacy, and the use of flowers, vintage elements, and white furniture appeals to a feminine innocence that is reflected by this type of decor.

Tropical chic: Fueled by animal print, rustic and natural components, and a jungle-oriented theme, the tropical chic style has become very popular nowadays. Materials such as wicker, dark woods, rattan, and cotton prevail, while patterns are organic in nature. Leaves, elephants, monkeys, and so on are used often.

Minimalism: A monochromatic style that follows the rule less is more. Minimalism is a highly functional style with clean lines and smooth surfaces. Elements of decor are always functional, and floor plans are open to maximize the perception of space in small rooms.


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Defining The Focal Point of a Room

The focal point of a room is where the eye is drawn more often than in any other part of the room. It is not always in the center, and may not be as obvious as you think, but it is crucial that you define it before you be begin a decorating project for that space.

If you want to determine your room’s focal point, ask yourself these questions: When you enter the room, what is the first thing that your eyes rest on? Do you have a fireplace or an oversized or bow window? Is there a large object in your room, like a piano, sculpture or a large portrait?

The focal point of a room is usually located at eye level as you enter the space. An example of this is a piece of art or a large screen tv over a mantle or a glossy black and white piano tucked in the corner. It can also be a large picture window or bay window (as seen below).

A room’s layout and traffic flow will have a significant impact on what a room’s focal point is, and you should keep this in mind when redecorating. You can use a mirror to transport a focal point to another place in the room and maximize its effect. You should especially do this in open floor plans.

It is crucial to define the focal point of a room so that you can plan your decor layout around it. The focal point establishes lines of reference and a pattern of symmetry that are followed to achieve equilibrium and harmony within a room.

To take advantage of your focal point as much as possible, define it in a way that can be seen from the entryway, exit, and main areas of the room. Make sure that seating areas are located directly around the focal point, and that while confined enough for successful interaction, they are aimed directly at the point of focus.


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Color and Texture: What Mood Do You Want to Set?

Color and texture are two of the critical aspects that you need to decide upon when thinking about how to re-decorate a room. Because they encompass virtually the entire space, those two aspects alone can promote the “feel” of the room more than any other aspect, while the other aspects such as furniture, wall hangings and other accents are really secondary.

If you want to take the least expensive route possible to re-decorate, simply changing the color of the walls is a great way to start (especially if you do it yourself) because the color change can completely change the mood, if the color you choose is vastly different from the previous color.

For humans, color can be a mood-enhancer, so whatever the mood is that you want people to feel when they enter that space is the color (or color spectrum) that you should research and consider.

The color purple, for example, promotes a peaceful feeling and stimulates creativity. Green signifies harmony, peace, and nature, while yellow is related to youth, fun, creativity, and warmth. Red indicates passion and love, and blue reminds us of the ocean, tranquility, and security.

Selecting pleasing colors for your rooms doesn’t always mean selecting the ones you like. If you are after harmony, balance, peace, warmth, and tranquility, a color scheme with hues of greens, blues, whites, and tones of gold, yellow, or red is sure to do the trick. If you’re after an invigorating environment, choose colors such as orange, yellow, magenta, turquoise, and aqua to energize and brighten the atmosphere.

Texture is another critical aspect of home decor, as it gives a room complexity and detail while complementing the decor in a subtle way.

Texture is generally used to attract immediate attention to an area, especially if the colorscheme is restricted to just a few similar colors.

Fabrics are perhaps the best way, though not the only way, to incorporate texture into a room. Options can vary from linen or silk curtains for the windows to the type of carpet (or hardwood floors) that you lay, to the type of fabric that covers your couch and chairs. All of this plays into the mood that you set for the space that you want to decorate.


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Planning a Home Decor Project on a Budget

Budget Considerations in Home Decor

We all know that home decor can be expensive and labor intensive. Many of us can’t afford the time or money to upgrade a worn-out kitchen or an outdated living room.

To maximize the yield of your money, minimize efforts, and still get awesome results, follow these simple budget-decorating tips.

Save the big bucks for a quality piece of furniture. You can invest a fair amount of your budget in a signature piece that will be the focal point of a room, and that is also classic in style to stand the test of time.

Should You Select the Expensive Fabrics?

When using fabrics and other materials, be careful with the more expensive ones and eliminate any room for error. Double check measurements and buy only what you need. Use more affordable materials as much as you can to minimize costs, and take into consideration whether you have small children and/or pets. No matter how well-trained they are, accidents will still happen.

Select quality materials for decor components that you will rely on. Cutting back on quality when buying sofas, chairs, duvets, or slipcovers can be detrimental in the long run, forcing you to spend even more than you bargained for.

Consider Doing the Easier Labor Yourself

To cut costs, tackle easy home decor tasks such as painting and tiling yourself. By doing this, you will save money to invest on something else, such a signature piece or eye-catching artwork or another great piece of furniture.

But even if you’re on a budget, there are certain home-remodeling jobs that are better left to the professionals. Instead of spending your money on high-cost materials, spend the money on high-cost labor. That way you’ll end up with professional results and your home will be coordinated, paying off the investment in the long run.

Plan in Advance

Finally, to get the most out of your money, plan everything in advance and take the home decor process step by step. That way you won’t have to go back and change an element that is no longer suitable for your style.


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Balance and Harmony (Feng Shui) in Decor Design

Design Elements: Balance and Harmony (and a little bit about Feng Shui in a video)

The elements of design include an established concept of equilibrium that is defined by balance and harmony.

Balance can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. When there is symmetry, objects exist in pairs or in even numbers to cancel each other out and maintain neutrality. Symmetry is particularly important in formal styles of decor, as it aids in the maintenance of order and clean lines that is reflected by this type of home decor.

Asymmetry, on the other hand, represents imperfection, casualty, and a relaxed atmosphere. An asymmetrical arrangement could be a set of three different candles that are grouped together as a focal point. In a symmetrical layout, the candles would be the same, spaced apart at equal distances, and preferably used in pairs.

Balance is also a description of how things are set up in a room and how they work together to create a pleasing environment, as well as how they draw the eye.

Just like a painting would look empty if most of the color is on one side of the canvas, a room would feel unbalanced if elements were not cancelled out by another element on the opposite side of the room.

Balancing Weight and Size in a Room

With this in mind, balance is a measure of the weight and size of the components of a room, and also how that quantity or volume is dispersed throughout the space.

Furthermore, harmony is another aspect of home decor that is important in maintaining a home that is inviting and inspires tranquility.

When we say harmony, this doesn’t mean that all the components of your design must be coordinated and matched to perfection. Rather, all furniture, accents, and accessories ought to follow a certain theme and complement the decor that you have chosen for the home or room.


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