Thought process behind a great decorating project on a budget

Dining Room Before and After

Do you ever walk into a room and think, OMG – where do even begin? I’ve had people asking me how I was able to transform my friend’s dining room from disaster to homey and comfortable.

Truth be told, I was overwhelmed at first too.

Here’s the process I use when tackling any room re-do –

First, remove anything that doesn’t belong in that room. Put it away, find it a home, give it to charity, throw it away – whatever is appropriate.

Now, take a step back and look at what is left.

Make a starting game plan.

What needs to be bought?

What has to stay?

In this case, there were no window treatments. The carpet and furniture has to stay for now.

Keep your eyes open when shopping.

I found these curtains in the clearance aisle at Walmart. Bob cannot afford to replace the carpeting right now, and he likes the burgundy colors. These curtains fit the bill.

That meant something had to be done about the chairs. As luck would have it, these slipcovers are on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond round the holidays. Limited colors, but inexpensive.

Then comes the paint chips. We taped them up on the wall and looked at them in various light.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of wall washing to be done. Years of nicotine and grime to wash away. That actually took the most time.

Then came patching, sanding and priming.

I don’t care what these new fangled paint cans say. If you want a good paint job that is going to last, you have to prep your walls correctly. I was talking to a lady today who was unhappy with the paint job that had been done in her condo. She said it looked nice at first, but any little hit to the walls left chips.

Now settling on a color was a challenge.

I originally wanted to go more taupe, but that would have made the room feel too drab and cave-like.

The curtains had taupe, green, gold and burgundy. We had so many paint chips taped to the wall!

We settled on Antique White by DutchBoy. Painting the trim and the ceiling white brought out more beige in the wall color. It brightened up the room, but still had a bit of color.

The entire process, doing a little at a time- and Bob getting a pacemaker, took about a month and cost less than $200.

The Bathroom –

Want to talk overwhelm? I wanted to cry every time I walked into this room. I really wasn’t sure I could save this room. That’s why I chose this room to tackle first.

The process was basically the same.

Remove anything that doesn’t belong.

Look at what’s left.

Decide your game plan.

Bob could not afford to replace the tub, surround and floor right now. We can ‘paint’ the tub and surround, but there is only one bathroom and they would not be able to use the tub for at least 4 days.That’s a problem…

He did replace the vanity, sink, faucet, cabinets, and light fixture. And then of course, there were rugs, towels and shower curtain. Fortunately, the shower curtain hides the biggest eyesore.

Choosing the color…

This time we didn’t have anything to base a color choice on.

I stood him in front of the paint display and told him to pick a color. He picked the teal because it reminded him of a 1963 mustang. OK then…

nasty mold in the bathroom The whole bathroom looked pretty much like this.

First there was the washing and mold treatments. It was bad. Real bad. I was really afraid of the mold stains. I was sure that I had killed the mold with all the Clorox Clean-up I had used on it, but it still looked like it was there. I found Kaboom Stain Remover with Bleach – said it removes mold stains!  And that took care of it. If you paint over mold, it will come back through.



Then there was the installing of all the new stuff.

new bathroom

We found the shower curtain at Walmart. Then we picked up the brown tones in the rugs and towels. It turned out very masculine – which is right for this house.

This took us only a couple of weeks, Everyone needs the bathroom everyday. He spent about $600. The sink, vanity, and faucet came from HOBO. The wall cabinets and paint came from Menards.

Kitchen B4I’m thinking about the kitchen now.

Its already been organized.

I’ve already worked on the cabinets. They look pretty good for what they are. They have to stay.

I’ve done one round of washing, but it needs another round.The walls and ceiling are yellowed with grease and nicotine and there is lots of gray grime.  And I have to remove the old wallpaper border. UGH!

Yes, I have paint chips up, but nothing was inspiring. So I went to Amazon and did a search for self stick wall paper borders. I was hoping to get off easy, but no. I found the perfect border, but its regular wall paper. Its been many years since I’ve hung any wallpaper.


This border pickskitchen wallpaper border up the colors in the dining room, so the rooms will tie together. And it leaves enough color options for not only the kitchen, but also the living room on one side of the kitchen, and the family room on the other side. You don’t have to have all the rooms the same color, but there should be some sort of flow.

Then there will be the priming and painting, and putting up the border.

So you see, its pretty much the same process in each room you tackle.

– Remove what doesn’t belong

– Look at what’s left

– Find your inspiring piece

– Search for the items you need to pull it all together

– Wash, prep and paint

– Put the room together

I hope this helps you make your next decorating project a success!


(Nasty Mold Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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