4 Simple Answers for Your Decor Questions

Add interest to your room with unique accents.
Add interest to your room with unique accents.
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Though we'd all prefer our homes resemble the pictures from decorating magazines, the truth is that real people lead real lives in their homes and real issues arise. We've compiled four of the most common décor questions and given you simple solutions to make your home a warm, enjoyable place for your family to be.

Question: "Draperies can be so expensive. Is there an option besides new custom-made draperies and what's available at department stores?"

Answer: Look no further than your own windows. Many treatments can get a new lease on life with some water-soluble dye (found in most supermarkets) and perhaps a few yards of new trim or tassels.

If your existing curtains are of good quality fabric, consider reworking them by changing the color. Even if they are patterned or floral in design, you can give them a tea-stained antique look with a dye wash of rich brown (check dye packages for specific instructions). Pale solids can have dramatic impact with a new, deep shade.

If you're handy with a sewing machine, consider reworking the overall style of the curtain (for example, cut off the tabs; line with a contrasting fabric; and use as a short, full swag). Try moving the draperies to a different room. Spending a few dollars on some new trim or tassel tiebacks can really breathe life into recycled window dressings.

Question: "Can I paint over wallpaper?"

Answer: Ideally, we should avoid doing so whenever possible simply because it's difficult to know how the paper was applied, what condition the wall is in underneath, etc. Typically, when wet paint is applied to wallpaper (non-vinyl), the moisture reactivates the glue of the paper and often creates bubbles and unsightly loose spots.

There is hope for rooms when removing paper is not an option. Wallpaper can be sealed with a shellac-based moisture barrier. A good quality primer sealer stain-killer (available at major home improvement stores) is very thin and dries fast, but it also has a strong odor, so only apply in a well-ventilated room. First, tear all loose wallpaper off the wall and sand rough edges. Apply primer sealer stain-killer product, and let dry completely. Then repair walls as you would normally with spackle or drywall compound, prime, and paint.

Question: "We've had some of our framed prints for years, and we're bored with them. They seem to blend into the walls. Any suggestions?"

Answer: A great solution for adding some interest to your walls is to hang 3D items or collections such as clocks, iron gates, tools, wood signs, and so forth. These items are somewhat unexpected and offer interest that a print or painting may not.

Shop for inexpensive items at antique shops, garage sales, or second hand stores. Try opening your eyes to unique items and you may find fantastic wall hangings in the most ordinary and affordable places.

Question: "Is there any way to show off little Jimmy's masterpieces without making our house look like a day care center?"

Answer: If you have young children, chances are the refrigerator is about to topple over with magnets clinging to prized artwork. Continue to encourage your little artist by creating a less cluttered gallery where their latest and greatest work is rotated periodically.

Entry halls, back halls, or family rooms are great choices for creating such galleries. Simply collect several large frames of similar style (look at second hand shops or inexpensive frame stores-you don't even need the glass). Paint them all the same color, perhaps to match the trim of the room. Create a grouping by hanging them together. Then, using sticky putty, set your child's artwork inside each frame for a week, a month, etc. Children will delight in the special attention and placement their art receives-and you can enjoy it without the clutter of yellowing construction paper all over the fridge (you can pack away the art safely after its exhibit is complete).

We can create warm, enjoyable interiors despite the realities of family life. Picture-perfect rooms are for magazines...we prefer a tasteful, lived-in look with style, flair, and personality!