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As spring is just getting started here in Denver, I have had a hankering to update my living room a bit for the season. Since a blue and yellow color combo has become extremely trendy at the moment, I decided to finally make a seasonal switch. And, the easiest and cheapest way to update any decor is with color. But where do you start, especially if you’re on a budget? Keep reading for the black sheep twist at the end…
Appreciate the Small Things
A very inexpensive way to add or change the accent color in a room is with pillows, throws and accessories like vases, candles, books, boxes, etc. Of course, you can spend a fortune on these items if you want, but there are any number of sources for purchasing these items at a great price. In my quest to add new color to my living room, I went to Target, Amazon, Michael’s, Pier One, World Market and Wayfair. I actually went to the physical stores (not Wayfair or Amazon – online only), but all of them have websites that you can order through and undoubtedly you have alternative stores no matter where you are in the world (your version of dollar stores, discount stores like TJ Maxx in the US, or even your local thrift and antique shops) that make great inexpensive sources for these kinds of items.
For my initial transformation, I removed the existing red and black accents from the room (winter look) and spread the new pillows, throw and small accessories I purchased around on my mantel, sofa, chairs and bookcases to completely change the look. Maybe you have a color that you added to a room for winter (in 2010 perhaps?) that can be switched out in the same way?
Nature or In My Case, “Faux” Nature
Another great and inexpensive way to add new color to a room is with natural elements like flowers and plants. Purchase some cut flowers in your new accent color(s) and put most of them in a vase in a prominent location and then add 1 or 2 of the flowers to bud vases around the room. You will have to replace them about once a week, but what a great excuse to buy yourself flowers! If that’s more work than you want, purchase some potted flowering plants in varying shapes and sizes and add those to the space. They will last months (at least) if you remember to water them and they get the appropriate amount of light.
I, however, have a black thumb and can kill any plant that crosses my path including cacti. So, I have to go the route of silk flowers and plants. I am pretty picky about silk flowers though, and only go for ones that actually look real. None of those blue grandma daisies for me (or you), please! Or, if I have to use something that seems kinda cheesy-fake, I will purposely mix it with obviously fake items like paper flowers or lighted branches to make it a deliberate choice as opposed to seeming like I didn’t realize I bought ugly fake ones.
You can purchase a few silk flowers or plants in your accent color and use them with existing pieces to refresh your space without completely losing everything you already have in the room. In my living room, I used existing white vases and other containers to add the new accent colored flowers around the room (as well as in some of the new accessories too). Combined with the pillows and accessories (above), it finished off the space very nicely!
As the Stones Say, “Paint It Black” (Not Really)
If you are ready for a bigger and more permanent change, use paint! Painting walls is obviously more labor intensive, but it will also have a much larger impact on any room. This one is also a trickier choice to make and I’ll get into how to pick the perfect paint color in the future, but for now I will advise that you purchase samples of any paint color you are thinking about adding to your room, paint them onto poster boards and then hang them on the wall or walls you want to paint and observe them throughout the day. The lighting in your particular space at different times of day can have dramatic effects on paint colors. You may decide you love that shade of blue in the morning but in the evening it turns an ugly shade of green or gray.
If you don’t want to over commit, paint an accent wall or an accent section of a wall. Some designers may say that idea is “out” but if it’s going to work for you and help you take a leap into a new color, I say, “Go for it!” It’s a lot easier to paint over a smaller section of a wall than the entire room and adding a painted accent block to a room can also help highlight a favorite piece of furniture, art or interesting architectural feature in a very modern way.
The Black Sheep Twist
If you are afraid of color, then I would advise starting by adding one accent color into what I am guessing is your sea of neutrals. It’s a way to dip your toe into the color pool without getting disastrously thrown in. One color should lead to a successful start and not seem too overwhelming and/or expensive. Be sure to make accent color accessory purchases that vary in size and shape in order to keep your space visually interesting. For example, you don’t want to just add a bunch of square pillows and square boxes in red; add some tall vases and short bowls too, and some pillows and accessories that are small, some that are bigger – you get the idea.
If, like me however, you LOVE color, you don’t have to stop at just one. Add a couple of new accents to your existing palette to pizzazz it up. I thought that I would just add yellow in with the existing blues and rust/copper (can’t really change it – it’s in the furniture wood color and upholstery) in my living room. There were a bunch of great options in yellow and blue in the stores I visited, but ultimately that classic scheme wasn’t “us”enough for me. I decided to add bright pink too! I found a multi-colored pillow at World Market with a global feel that became my inspiration for the rest of the accents I added. It’s a bit unusual and possibly odd but perfectly captures my husband and me.
Remember that any color or combination of colors is right as long as you love it and it expresses who you and your family are in your home. It doesn’t matter if the colors you like are “in” now or not. Make your spaces reflect you!
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