Aside from the temperamental weather, scarcity of holidays and pervasive universal cranky moods, one of the worst parts of winter is the feeling of being trapped indoors for months at a time.
While bears are too busy hibernating to take much notice of their surroundings, for the rest of us, too much time spent indoors can magnify every crack, tear or water stain adorning our humble abodes.
Before you go too crazy on renovation or DIY projects, consider small and quick fixes instead. Choose one room at a time and focus on singular design elements.
Design visionary, Annie Selke of home-textiles companies Pine Cone Hill and Dash & Albert Rug Company, offered some advice on affordably updating your home. And since you’ll probably be spending a lot of time tucked under the covers this winter, why not start with the bedroom?
Selke says it’s important to start with a good foundation. “I like to think of developing a wardrobe for each bed in the house in a palette that is specific to the room. This helps keep you focused in your shopping and it’s easier for household maintenance. Plus, it keeps the room free from the random creeping of mismatched bedding pieces.”
Selke also says that she lets the palette of each room dictate the wardrobe of the bedding (and towels). “Then, when you are doing the laundry you know that all the green towels and white with green embroidered sheets go in the secondary bedroom and their blue or taupe counterparts go in the master.”
Frugal Decorating Takeaway: Choose a palette specific to each room to avoid overspending
Selke advices switching bedding seasonally. “Adding warmer, cuddlier layers as the thermometer drops is a must.” But don’t panic about replacing all the bedding in the house.“ Just gather the items you already have that will form your foundation,” says Selke. “Then fill in the gaps with the items and your desired palette in mind.”
And don’t be swayed by thread count alone. Selke says that a high thread count does not guarantee a wonderful-feeling sheet. “Open the package and FEEL them! If you like the feel, great. Try this method on both high and low thread counts to determine your favorites.”
Frugal Decorating Takeaway: Take your time in building your bedroom wardrobe. Stock up on seasonal white sales and adopt a fill in the blanks attitude to filling the linen closet.
Interior Designer Suzanne Eberhardt is in the process of redecorating her own bedroom, a project she says will cost her less than $300.00 total. She offers these 7 tips to redecorating your own:
Paint: This is the quickest and most inexpensive way to update a bedroom. Eberhardt says, “You can change an entire look and mood from a can or two of Benjamin Moore premium quality paint (her favorite). It’s rich and creamy and you may get away with one coat, though two is always better.”
And if you end up hating it? It’s not permanent — it’s just paint. Some tips: Paint all walls the same color for a cozier feeling. For a lighter feeling, choose a pastel or feature one wall- typically the one behind the bed. “Paint doors and frames white or whatever turns you on. If you use same color, it will make the room look larger.”
Cost: $40 and up.
De-clutter: Gulp. I just took a look around and found at least 50 things that shouldn’t be there. Put away anything that’s on the surface and in the way. Cost: $0
Flooring: Eberhardt always works from floor up. “It’s the largest element- you may not be able to change it but it’s easier to choose bedding and paint in that order from there. If you are changing floor material, choose the bedding simultaneously.” Budget is up to you. At the very least, you can invest in a small throw rug.
Bedding: January is typically white sale month everywhere, so you’ll likely get the best prices this time of year.
Object D’art: Once you’ve painted, you’ll want to add photos and artwork back one at a time “until you find a harmonic balance,” says Eberhardt. Her rule of thumb is less is more.
Scents and Sounds: Eberhardt says to touch all of the senses and that includes scented candles, calm or romantic music depending on your taste.
Lighting: Even a bedside lamp can change the look of your room. (I bought a high-style Italian ceramic table lamp at Overstock.com that cost under $35.00 but looks so much more expensive.)
And if you’re too lazy for the paint or full makeover, you can always go for one or two key pieces that will instantly update any room. Selke says that after paint, accessories are the most affordable updates. Even adding decorative pillows, throws, and window treatments can change the entire look of a room.
If you don’t know what you want, Selke suggests surfing Pinterest or decorating sites like Houzz, and make note of rooms that you are drawn to. Then narrow those down until you find you favorite color scheme and a design style that works for you.
Thrifty: Before you decide to decorate, de-clutter and rearrange the pictures in your home. Your space will automatically look fresh and updated. An inexpensive coat of paint will provide a weekend DIY project and brighten up the space.
Spendy: Invest in one eye-catching piece that will automatically update any room. The vibrantly colored Aran throw (www.pineconehill.com) seems pricey at $144.00, but can be draped over a bed or even over a shabby looking love seat. One piece, multiple looks.
Trendy: Wall stickers can instantly add whimsy or a designer element to a room. Wall Pops Jonathan Adler collection of vinyl wall stickers cost less than $20 each.
Rachel Weingarten is excited to be adding Thrifty/Spendy/Trendy as a new feature of MintStyle. She’s a noted style expert and writes for outlets including CNN.com, Crain’s NY Business, MSN and Newsday among others. Rachel is the author of Career and Corporate Cool and Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ‘40s-‘60s. Visit her online at http://racheletc.com or on Twitter @rachelcw. Write to her with your burning style questions at mintstylerachel at gmail.com