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Budget decorating for dark paneling

By on January 19, 2009

postcard collage
photo by kai hendry
DEAR SARA: I found a small, two-bedroom apartment at a great price. The rent is $450. It’s older and has dark paneling. How can I brighten it up on a budget? Painting isn’t an option. Thanks! — Jilly, Texas

DEAR JILLY: You can buy a quilt hanger, or Ikea sells curtain wire with clips and mounting hardware to display a decorative throw blanket, fabric, painted or stenciled canvas or muslin. You can make a collage from greeting cards, calendar pictures, photos, postcards, geometric shapes from wallpaper or scrapbook paper or vintage magazine advertisements. Or adhere these items to card stock and attach them in a vertical series with fish line and hang them to your curtain clips and wire. You can frame and group children’s artwork, board games, album covers, menus or handkerchiefs, too. If you pull in colors from other parts of the room, it will take focus away from the paneling.

Another option is hanging fabric like you would wallpaper. Cotton fabric works well. You use liquid starch instead of glue. The starch helps it adhere just enough so it sticks, but not so much that it can’t be easily removed when you leave. Be sure to wash your fabric ahead of time so it doesn’t shrink. Wash your walls, too. Measure your wall, and buy and cut your fabric accordingly. You dip the fabric into a tub of liquid starch and wring it out before hanging, or you can brush the liquid starch onto the wall. Have someone help you hang the fabric. You’ll definitely need the help. You can straighten out wrinkles and bubbles with a ruler, squeegee, brayer, sponge or paint roller. Buy enough fabric to match up a pattern if your fabric has one. Remember that the fabric will shrink a bit when dry, so overlap it when hanging. If you don’t feel up to covering the entire wall, cut your fabric into shapes.

What are some budget decorating ideas you have for Jilly?

DEAR SARA: With your frugal ways, do you ever feel poor? Or am I the only one who feels this way from time to time? — JMoffitt, e-mail

DEAR JMOFFITT: No, I don’t ever feel poor. My basic needs are met and then some. Your efforts to spend less and waste less are far better alternatives than living beyond your means. Think about your desire to improve your life to reach your goals, and continue to make the best choices for yourself. Know that your efforts are not only going to benefit you but the planet, too. You’ll discover more and more people are going to start to make wiser choices with their resources. Keep in mind the proverb, “At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box,” when you catch yourself comparing yourself to others. Also, there’s poor and there’s crying poor. You can make $1 million and spend a million and two and be more broke than the person who makes $20,000 and lives within her means. Waste at any level of income is still waste. I hope through your continued frugal efforts that you’ll begin to feel empowered.

Do you ever feel poor like JMoffit with your frugal ways?

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