Bring Spring In
Fresh, frugal ideas for budget decorating
by Kathleen Wilson
The Budget Decorator
ere are some great ideas for bringing the freshness of spring into your home.
• Sponge paint your walls, or a key piece of furniture. Blues, greens, pinks, and yellows in pastel shades refresh a room, and the softness of sponging gives an "impressionistic" appeal.
• Take clippings from outdoor ivy, and root in water for FREE houseplants. Buy inexpensive shade annuals and pot them up for indoors- fuchsias, impatiens, begonias, and primroses are wonderful for bringing in color, and deal well with the lower light indoors.
• Dress up candles as natural works of art instead of putting them away for the warm months. Use a glue gun to attach organic materials such as dried twigs, flowers, cinnamon sticks, worn out potpourri, pressed leaves, coffee beans...use what you have! Or, tie on raffia or ribbon and group candles on a shelf, tabletop, or on a mirror.
• Paint inexpensive houseplant pots to give your room designer touches. Sponge paint over clay pots, or use a stencil or simple pattern to give interest. This technique can also be used on your outdoor pots. Hint: for a more elegant look, try using the new metallic craft paints over clay pots. Simply sponging on some metallic paint (try combing them) can look extremely upscale.
• Got an old wooden stepladder? Use it as a great plant stand to bring the green indoors. You can paint it or leave it rustic and weathered, depending on the style of your room. Full size wooden ladders can look great on the patio.
• Add spring detail to your window treatments by using small grapevine wreaths as tiebacks or swag holders. You can add more interest by gluing on a small bunch of dried flowers. This is a great way to reuse flowers from a damaged arrangement, or leftovers from another project.
• Buy artificial plant vines at the craft store, and drape them over the tops of your window treatments, or wrap them around a floor lamp. Watch the craft stores carefully, and you can usually catch them on sale for just a couple of bucks.
• Cover cardboard boxes with fresh floral fabric, and stack on a table like hatboxes. If you utilize scraps from another project, you will have creative, decorative storage, virtually free!
•Give your kitchen a garden window by installing cheap shelving across the inside frame. This can be nothing more than a small wooden block nailed into the frame on each side, and a simple board resting on top of them. Fill this with plants and cuttings, and you will have big impact. Bonus: The plants will thrive in the bright light and moisture of the kitchen. Caution: Do not do this in a south facing window; the direct sun is just too much for most houseplants.
•Paint small paper mache bird houses and hang them from your curtain rod, or the bottom of a shelf or cabinet. I found them at my craft store for 50 cents, or you could easily make them from small cardboard containers and paper mache paste.
•Use those beautiful pictures from your garden catalogs to frame into botanical prints, who will know!
•Use gold spray paint left over from the holidays to transform small clay pots and saucers into coasters and silverware caddies. They stack well, too, and best of all, they're cheap!
•Make an herb drying rack for your kitchen by nailing small wire brads into cheap lathing strip, or better yet, an aged piece of wood you might find, even driftwood! You can make and hang just one, or several together to make a large wall arrangement. You can gather flowers, herbs, even grasses to dry directly on the rack from your own yard. I recommend using a rubber band to secure them, as plant material shrinks when it dries. You can cover the rubber band with ribbon or raffia if you wish.
•Save those clear bottles and fill with colored water for a bright accent in a window. Use your glue gun to dress up the bottle caps with organic odds and ends...beans, lentils, dried flowers--you get the idea.
•Never underestimate how much impact a small container of fresh flowers can have in a room, even just a pretty cup full of roadside daisies! A couple of packets of seeds can keep a house in cut bouquets all summer. Sunflower, cosmos, and zinnias are VERY easy to grow, and are great in arrangements.
•Replace heavy window treatments with a simple drape of gauzy fabric. This type of material is very inexpensive at the fabric store, or keep your eye out for tablecloths that can be pressed into service. (Watch those garage sales!)
•Need more ideas for warm weather windows? Simply hang cloth napkins or placemats over the rod. Experiment with overlapping, laying them on the diagonal, or tying them with ribbon--a cheery valance that ties right in with your kitchen or dining area!
•Make easy, virtually free ivy topiaries. Pot up your ivy cuttings (straight from the yard, or a neighbors) then form a wire coat hanger into your desire shape. You may need pliers to help you with this. Insert the hooked end into the pot, and secure by pushing sticks, or bamboo skewers into the soil on either side of the wire. Secure the wire to the skewers with twisty ties, then cut the skewers of level with the wire. Wrap the ivy around the wire from the base upwards, and continue to tuck and wrap as it grows. Very soon the ivy will completely cover the wire, and you'll never know it was a free coat hanger, instead of a $20 topiary form!
Kathy Wilson has been involved in home and garden design since 1988. She is an author, a national self syndicated columnist, a freelance writer, and editor of The Budget Decorator. Kathy has 5 children and 3 stepchildren who range in age from 4 to 17 years , so she knows all about tight budgets! © 2000-2005 Kathleen Wilson, used by permission.