Homemade Kitchen Curtains and Creative Frugal Tips to Improve Your Home
We have been renters now for over four years, and most know the story. It's not my place, so why invest in it?
There are a few cheap and fun improvements that can add a lot of soul to your home without spending hardly anything. Color paints, dyes, yarn for crocheted sofa cushions and funky home made curtains all made the place a lot more homey, not to mention glass bottles, jars and dried flowers propped up in corner vases. Home is where the heart is, whether it's a rent payment or a mortgage payment. After hedging for awhile, I finally decided that I might as well make the most of it with portable improvements that cost next to nothing. That was my conclusion, and this is what I came up with:
Easy to do, and privacy too
Create a new window look on a shoestring
Your house and home will look a whole lot better with some minimal curtains hanging from the windows. All you need is to design two identical squares of material in a polka dot or checked pattern (basic patterns were for me easier to handle in the long term, but let your imagination run wild). You can machine or hand sew a casing at the top. Even an old cotton scarf or other square to rectangular shape will work fine. The main thing is to make cheap curtains and get a little flair at the same time.
Those who want to install curtain rods, be my guest. At the time, I didn't want to wait, so I came up with a fast solution: For extra quick-and-dirty "my neighbors are watching me cook and I want some privacy", all you need is a shoelace for each curtain and two nails. Pound the two nails on either side of the curtain. Thread the shoelace into the casing. Tie knots on both sides. The curtains are done - and your window looks great! A similar treatment can be used for a door opening that needs some discretion. Finish off the edges, stitch a casing, and hang up your curtains using a cord or whatever does the job tying around two nails on either side. Voila!
Painting - Framing = Easy
The artist in you says, Paint pictures yourself!
Paint and design comes easy with a "nothing to lose, everything to gain" attitude and your kids' poster paints. I found a great invention - white blocked canvas which doesn't need framing. Backed with a thick wooden rectangle, all you gotta do is just paint and hang. We did our family's portrait in about an hour. It took care of a huge white empty space on the wall and has become a great conversation piece! Now others say they want to try it too!
It's worth mentioning that art work disasters can always be painted over again in white and be re-painted. If we ever get tired of our family portrait, or decide to make a more recent one, paint it and start again. Cheap, affective, colorful and fun. Not bad, considering the whole thing cost less than $50.
Framed photos. Sometimes the photos on calendars are just too good to throw away. Scenes from nature, animal shots or other artistically pleasing photos can be reused and framed, placed and hung on the wall. We have some great animal shots from World Wildlife Fund like Pandas, Cheetas, Lions and so on, and the kids love them. Another old calendar of fish, boats and other sea life may have a picture worth embellishing on. Haven't tried it yet, but a cool collage could come from a cut+paste experiment.
Frames can also be purchased inexpensively. The glass or acrylic styles are also fine if you like. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy a "bad" picture and just use the frame! Look around at discount stores, the ones marked real low. The picture is not important you are going for the frame. What you put inside is up to you. It can really be a game, and when you finish, it's going to be a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
Paint your walls in color for depth and warmth
When we moved in we had a two-toned place - wood colored floor and ceiling and white walls. Of course there was a fabulous view of the sea and the orange and olive trees on the hill behind us, but the white walls began to really get on my nerves. When I cracked, I cracked all the way and now a white wall is hard to find in our house - maybe behind the stove? LOL.
You guessed it - I had had enough and began to colorize the walls. I did my own mixing which means I got some really outrageous tones. For example, the children's room is a deep "under the sea" aqua and "Winx Club" lavender. Our room is Dijon mustard color (on the most visible wall) and dusty rose, cafe au lait, and it helps bring out the richness of our various wood toned furniture pieces which come in just about every shade. In short, the room glows. Coming into the kitchen, we have a nice light yellow with touches of orange and tomato soup red. It just happened that way. Our family room is a very light shade of lilac, with the intention of hypnotizing everyone at the dinner table into a peaceful stupor. Mediterranean temperament is very explosive, so I thought it would be worth a try.
Live and Let Dye
- Deb Nelson shows how to dye fabric & things - YouTube
Deb Nelson of www.debnelsondesign.com shows how to dye fabric & things
Kid friendly - from hospital white to petroleum green!
I also dyed our chair covers. They used to be stark white - now they are "petroleum green". Dying is extremely easy. All you need is a washing machine, coarse salt and the material you want to dye. It's a good idea to wash them separately in the future, but the colors have held remarkably well. Some say that a light green and lavender are excellent together. All I know is that it looks compatible and refreshing. Light green is also known as an "emotion calming" color.
Green is a great choice because it goes with anything. Besides that, it stays fresh looking much longer than a white seat cover does!
1. dump the coarse salt in the washing machine. More salt, the lighter the color. If you want a deeper tone, use less salt.
2. open and pour in the dye.
3. Place your clean object inside and turn on the machine for a medium hot wash. The rinse water will look scary, but hold the course. Out of the machine will emerge some fabulous looking, petroleum green seat covers!
*** Other paint options **** my friend is a genius! *****
Another GREAT color addition was the painting of my two oldie but goodie refrigerators that refused to die. Just looking at the old rusty exterior was enough to put me in a bad mood whenever I went into my kitchen. Thank goodness, my clever and artistic girlfriend suggested we paint them. She did - and it took about an hour! First she sanded them down with sand paper to get rid of the rust. Then painted them quickly and brightly with white acrylic paint. After that came the color. WOW! What a huge difference! At first it was a like a bomb exploded in the kitchen but we've all quickly gotten used to it! It is a real joy to look at them!
It looks like an interior decorator gave our place a make-over!
Yarn and Wood
I also made some knitted pillows to liven things up a bit. Whoever sits on our couch can take advantage of the extra comfort they bring. I make them like a potholder or a granny square. Start in the middle and work your way out to the size of your choice. Good stuffing material for me is old, worn out pantyhose. They are soft and great for pillow stuffing!
Cheap Sofa Covers
Just to keep the furniture lasting longer, with active kids and their friends being more hyperactive than not, I keep the couches covered with an inexpensive synthetic blanket, single bed size. They are amazingly cheap and durable. You can coordinate the color of the blanket with the season, like red at Christmas time, light green in Springtime, etc. Just remove, wash, dry, and replace. What could be simpler? The goal is to keep the sofas going strong for as long as possible, especially while they are growing up (and especially, when they belong to the landlord, hint hint).
Glass Jars, Dried Flowers
Children's art can be framed too
I use glass bottles from pickles, marmalade and olives to store a variety of things, including teabags. Wow, what a fragrance when opening the lid - Mint Rush!).
I use a huge glass jar to hold upright wooden spoons and cooking utensils. Small to medium sized bottles can be used to store dried flowers and they add a nice touch in and around the kitchen area. Like the flower bouquet that refuses to die.
To spruce up the glass jars, I remove the original label, soaking in hot water to get rid of pickle smells or what have you. My friend cooks them in the oven at the lowest or next to the lowest setting on a cookie sheet with the metal jar top removed, of course. She says that they are sterilized this way, and being a qualified domestic goddess, I'm sure that's true.
A really cool idea I have started doing is soaking old postcards in water until the shiny paper on top is easily removed. With a little paste, you have a new label. Tape it on and now you have a decorative label for your jar. See the large jar on the right, that is one of them. I had about ten postcards and we made identical bottles for storage and gifts. Dried figs given in a designer bottle is a great gift for the holidays. A large fluffy bow can be added on the screw cap as a finishing touch!
When I don't have time to soak, peel and paste, I just attach a postcard with a rubber band to the bottle of my choice. It looks good and who cares? I'll get around to it eventually - or find another postcard that I like better.
The two kids each have their own bulletin board. It's a nice hefty rectangular shape for all their favorite stuff. Again, since this place isn't ours, I am trying to avoid making too many holes in the wall, and it gives them control over what they want to hang up. I think it's a win-win.
Magnets on the refrigerator
I collect 'em, so we have a real variety - alphabet letters, magnets from certain cities and fun items. They hold up the kids' latest artwork - so the fridge is exhibition territory (besides the bulletin boards).
It may sound like the house went from Plain Jane to the Psychedelic Wizard of Oz, but no. These changes did their job - add personality to the apartment and yet it still has a great feeling of openness and sunlight.
Quick and Easy Home Improvements are just that. You can do one or two whenever you have time, and if you like the effect, keep trying new ideas until you are satisfied with your home as a unique and delightful place to spend time. The whole idea is it reflects your personality, individualize it and keep adjusting it for the season or mood. In fact, it's a project that keeps evolving. I remember looking at photos and can usually pin point the time frame depending upon the interior.
Whatever you do - have fun - and .....Happy decorating!