How To Make Do Instead of Buying New-Updating Household Items with Paint

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When your home starts to look a little outdated and the budget says "no way" there are a number of things you can do inexpensively to give your home a cohesive look. Take down your pictures, take off the frames and paint them all black (or white). If the frames have a shiny surface you may need to put on a coat of Kilz latex primer first. It's soap and water clean up, and I use a lot of it. When in doubt, use the primer. I skipped the primer on a dresser once and it was a disaster, with paint coming off all over the place! WITH the primer you can paint just about anything! I had an old formica counter in the bathroom that I lightly sanded, primed, and painted, then sealed, and it lasted for years! (You need to put on a lot of coats of sealer, letting it dry between coats. See faux finish on kitchen counters in pics). That was a big, dramatic effect for the cost of a little paint and some time. Primer and paint is a great way to update kitchen cupboards, too. White paint will brighten up your kitchen, or use two colors from the light end of a paint color strip, putting one on the cupboards and the other on the doors. Then get some inexpensive brushed nickel knobs to replace the old ones, or spray the old knobs with some brushed nickel spray paint or one of the other metal-look paints. I couldn't find new hinges to fit my cupboards, so I sprayed the old hinges and the screw heads to match, and I think they turned out great. (See Before and After Kitchen Pictures) I found an old piece of styrofoam and stuck the screws in it with the heads sticking up and painted them all at once. I have even taken apart chandeliers and primed and painted them for a new look. I have so much fun with these projects I think I would do them even if I wasn't trying to live green and save money! But isn't it wonderful that this keeps a few more things out of our landfills?

To make a room of miss-matched furniture go together you can paint the pieces the same color. Then draw the attention away from the furniture by adding color with sheets. Sheets can be used as curtains (put the rod through the fold-over or use rings with clips), slipcovers (just keep tucking!), table covers, and even wallpaper! Get cotton sheets to use as a wallcovering, dip in a mixture of liquid starch and water (I think it's 1 part starch to 3 parts water, but it probably doesn't matter too much. I experiment, using more starch for heavier fabric, less for lighter.), squeeze out excess and put on wall, rubbing out air bubbles with a wallpaper brush or a damp sponge. Let dry. If you need to cut the fabric you can fold under the edge when applying to wall or wait till it dries and hot glue trim to the edge. When you get tired of it, it's easy to take down (just find an edge and pull), and you can even wash it and use it again!

To coordinate items in a room you can - you guessed it! - use paint! I have painted wicker wastebaskets, bedside tables, lamps (which are also cool decoupaged, but that's a story for another day), mirror frames,switch plates, and small wooden boxes. Using stamps or stencils and coordinating paint you can decorate these items further, along with rugs, walls, floors, and fabric. I have been digging around to find pictures of all of these things, but since I just moved half way across the country and haven't finished unpacking yet I can't put my finger on all of them. But one I did find is the stripes painted on the dining room wall. This wall started out off white. I used painters masking tape to mark off stripes and painted one color at a time. I did no measuring; I just eye-balled it. Start at the top and stick a couple inches of tape to the wall, then unwind about a yard of tape and let the tape roll hang from the stuck part. The weight of the roll pulls it straight and you just have to press it to the wall and repeat the process until you reach the bottom. The best part of this project was the price of the paint. I always check out the mismatched paint section of home improvement stores (Sears, too), and whenever I find a color I like I buy it. It's only 2 or 3 dollars, and you can even mix colors together to make a new one (just make sure you mix up enough for your whole project, because you'll never get that color again! Mixing cans are cheap at Lowes and Home Depot, and you can even get them with lids) Mixing paint is pretty easy with a color wheel. Colors near each other blend (red and yellow = orange) and opposite colors on the color wheel make a yucky brown (red and green, orange and blue, yellow and purple...) I'd stay away from those.

I hope you find this information useful and come back to read about other ways to be creative, save money, and save the earth, three ideas that are near and dear to my heart! To sum it up, you can paint just about anything, you can get primer on sale but don't skip it, and use good paint but you don't have to pay full price. Be creative and enjoy your space. If it doesn't turn out the way you want it you can always cover it with paint!

Before and After

Masking Tape Keeps Painted Stripes Straight
Masking Tape Keeps Painted Stripes Straight
Painted Chandelier and Ceiling Medalion
Painted Chandelier and Ceiling Medalion
Before
Before
After
After

Comments 6 comments

nightcats profile image

nightcats 8 years ago from North Vancouver

Thumbs up to anything that encourages us to recycle and reuse!


Linda Ruth profile image

Linda Ruth 8 years ago from Peterborough, NH

Great ideas for creative re-use!


Black Pearl 1 profile image

Black Pearl 1 8 years ago from USA

Nothing beats some good old elbow grease. Great information on renewing household items.


seaweed064 8 years ago

can u tell me the exact kind of paint u used to get the brushed nickel affect?thanks, waiting to hear.


SandyHoyt profile image

SandyHoyt 8 years ago from Madisonville, LA Author

I used a spray paint I got in Walmart (it said brushed nickel on the label). They have a lot of interesting spray paints like chalkboard, hammered metal, etc. You can get them at any home center like Home Depot or Lowes, too. Just ask in the paint department.


SandyHoyt profile image

SandyHoyt 8 years ago from Madisonville, LA Author

Absolutely! Slipcovers are a wonderful way to update your furniture! Thank you for your comment!

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