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Update your home with low- or no-cost ideas

Contrary to what may be a widespread belief these days, high gas and food prices don't mean you have to forego updating your home if you feel you need a change. Low- or no-cost redecorating ideas - from rearranging your current furniture to moving pieces to different rooms - can help you update your surroundings and keep your cash for necessities.

"Often times, updating the home you are currently living in can make you feel like you have a whole new environment," said Angela Cain, owner of Nouveaute/Angela Cain Interiors. "Some of those things can actually be done without spending a great deal of money."

Pamela Reeves, owner of Ambiance and Gifts in Suwanee, has a three-point philosophy on low- or no-cost redecorating - bright, light and tight.

Bright

"You get more bang for your buck when you paint than anything," Reeves said, especially for those doing the work themselves.

"Paint is the cheapest way to go for the most impact for the least amount of money," Reeves said. "But in saying that, I will say this: Choosing paint colors to go along with your decor is not the easiest thing."

Reeves suggested consulting a professional first. Not doing so "can cause you a lot of headache and cause you to repaint, which costs you time and money," Reeves warned.

Reeves also said do-it-yourself painters should consult paint store employees. "Let them know what you're painting because they're very knowledgeable," she said, adding employees at stores that sell only paint, such as Sherwin-Williams and Duron, are the most knowledgeable. "You get a little bit more help if you're doing it yourself. It's better to consult with a professional before you start the job."

Light

"You need to arrange lighting so that each seating section in a room has light," Reeves said. "Use floor lamps when spaces are tight and under counter lighting ... up underneath your kitchen counters and cabinets ... even bookcases."

Reeves said can-lighting, or eye-ball lighting, can also be installed fairly inexpensively to complement lamp lighting to transform a room.

Tight

Reeves said tightening up a space - cleaning it up - is an easy way to improve home spaces.

"Clean it up, clean it up, clean it up," she said.

Cain also suggested cleaning - "Clean out and get rid of the old clutter ... take down those old dusty window treatments, clean the windows and find some great panels and hardware to replace them," she said.

Reeves said collections of items can be of use in tightening up spaces. Using the example of old trophies, "All they are is architectural silhouettes ... You can take them and paint them in all the same color and display them on a shelf."

She suggested using spraypaint - "Spraypaint is very cheap," she said.

Reeves also suggested making use of family pictures.

"A lot of people have family pictures and are kind of at a quandary of what to do with them," she said. "I like the idea of, if you have a larger wall that you can use a rectangular shape, get a really large frame and put your smaller pictures inside of it ... like a big collage."

Reeves said paint can be used as a secondary frame to highlight photo frames hanging on walls. "That makes your frames pop and it really kind of sets (your pictures) apart."

Other suggestions

Cain said new, inexpensive additions can also transform a space.

"Add a nice rug, some new accent pillows and a few accessories, and wow, you have an entirely new look, spending hardly any money at all," she said.

When looking for new pieces for a room, Reeves recommended looking at what you already have in your home.

"You may and probably do have what you need under your roof," Reeves said.

Reeves also suggested getting the opinions of others.

"Say if you have a friend that you like the design in their house, have them come over and take a look and give their opinion about either what you've done or what you're getting ready to do because they can look at things in your house with a fresh eye," Reeves said.

Cain also suggested considering the following:

· Add tongue and groove paneling to your ceiling, stain, seal and glaze, then add a new light fixture or fan;

· Take out a wall or add a wall to make the space more functional;

· Change flooring to hardwood or stone;

· Change light fixtures;

· Add new towels to your bathroom;

· Rearrange your furniture and add one significant new piece;

· Put away some of the small, cluttered accessories and replace with a few large significant pieces; and

· Change cabinet hardware.