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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone!

I'm pretty new o this board, and have never posted anything here. My dh and dd will soon be downsizing to a small duplex in a couple of weeks. We are doing this primarily to become debt free and save as much as possible for as long as possible for a house.

My dilemma is this: the place that we're living in is NOT exactly attractive (but it's so cheap!). The walls are strict paneling EVERYWHERE, and there aren't a lot of windows. I see myself, as a stay at home mom, becoming a little depressed, especially in the summer.

My question is this: how can I brighten the place up a little bit, so that it's not so dark? Painting is out, but can you think of any other ways to make a dark place more cheerful?

I'm thinking of using brighter colors as far as pillows, etc. go, but the walls need some serious help!

Any input would be appreciated!!! Thanks so much!
 

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Go thee to your local thrift store, find sheets in colors and designs that you like, then stick em to the wall by soaking them in liquid starch and spreading on the wall. That will cover large amounts of area easily =D
 

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Some warm lighting may help. If you live near an Ikea, their paper-shade lamps might help warm up the place a bit, make it seem cozy instead of dank. Those are inexpensive and you wouldn't need many to transform a space.
 

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Go to Target now while they still have summer clearance stuff. Buy string lights and put them everywhere (you could also do white Christmas tree lights in a garland of sticks/flowers or wound up a fake ficus tree). Also, mirrors mirrors mirrors. And pretty art that you like, even if it's just poster-prints stuck to the wall with tacky-putty.

Oh, and I love Ikea's paper shade lights too. But if you don't live near an Ikea, you can get them at Pearl River. Just be sure to buy the lantern, which is just a shade, and the light. They're usually sold separately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the quick replies! I do love the ideas of using plants, twinkle lights, and the fun lamp ideas. I'm thinking of finding some bright and beautiful fabric and putting it into picture frames, to brighten up the space.

More suggestions are welcome! Thanks!!
 

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Agree with the lighting suggestions-- good lights can make a big difference. Also, use mirrors where you can.

Another idea-- and this is more of a mind-set thing-- is to try and view the place as a comfy, cozy den. Embrace the paneling, use lots of nice autumn colors like reds and oranges, light candles. It may not be so effective next summer when it's bright and hot outside, but at this time of year, why not?
 

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  • Layer # 1 is paint and architectural embellishments: Paint is the cheapest way to add warmth to your room. Oh yeah, don't forget to paint those ceilings. Architectural embellishments are moldings and other architectural items. I like to add these elements not only because they add value to homes, but also charm and substance.
Since you can not paint, I would suggest completely hanging the walls in fabric. Light neutral colors will open open up the space and not be 'too much'
  • Layer #2 is installed flooring: This is wall-to-wall installation, not area rugs which come later.
What kind of flooring do you have?
  • Layer #3 is high-ticket upholstery items: These are basically any over sized fabric covered piece. Here is a quick tip to remember when purchasing your items. Remember to focus on solid and textured fabrics rather than patterns. Locking yourself into a pattern can be a costly investment, which won't have any return.
What kind of furniture do you have? colors?
  • Layer # 4 is accent: This is where you can have fun with accent fabrics for pillows, curtains, runners and yes, area rugs. These are the easier pieces to change from season to season or when updating is needed.
  • Layer #5 is non-upholstered furniture (or the workhorses): Without these workhorses of the room, like coffee, end and side tables, a room
    simply doesn't work.
  • Layer #6 is accessories: This is my favorite part. This is where you can inject personal items like photos, books and other merchandise.
  • Layer # 7 is plants and lighting: Shadow is important to the mood of the room as the light that creates it. Here's a tip, remember, as much lighting should come from the floor as from the ceiling.Plants under lit help make great shadows and add that important living element to the room.
The 7 layer design idea is Christopher Lowell's FYI....
 

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MIRRORS! You'd be amazed. Our living room is small, but I have a corner curio cabinet with mirrors in it . . .I barely have any curios, but the mirrors really brighten up the room AND make the room look bigger.

If you want to put up any pics, I bet we could help with some specifics, too.

Oh, yeah. I think you should try to envision the overall look you want for the room before you start decorating. I find that to be helpful!
 

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Hmmm...well if you are renting odds are you can't paint, right?

Dh and i live in a basement apartment and it only has 2 windows. One in the kitchen, one in the bedroom. It's very dungeon like, lol!

I hated it until we painted it bright funky colors (crazy turquoise blue, yellow and green!) But having white curtians (there is a "Faux" window in the living room) and bright throw blankets and pillows and wall art helped a LOT, as did mirrors.

When most people see my place they probably think i'm a little nutso because of the loud colors...but most comment on how happy my place feels
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Unfortunately, we aren't allowed to paint. I'll try to post pictures when we actually move into the space, and it'll be great to get some suggestions on how to improve it. I have to admit - interior design is not my forte!


Thanks for the suggestions! I'm kind of excited to get started!
 

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I too was going to suggest "embrace the dark" or if you can't to that, to hang fabric. Definitely get those sheets wrinkle free before you put them up on the walls!

Or, if you're artistic at all, you could turn those sheets into tapestries (using fabric paint, not embroidery!) - could be a fun project for your dd's room....
 

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i prefer the idea of starching the fabric onto the wall, rather than hanging it. i find that hanging it makes it look messy, but starching it on, it's just like wall paper.

personally, i would go with all one color, rather than a pattern, for the walls. funky colors or neutrals (white, cream), should do well with the room.

good luck!
 

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I'm curious - is there any chance the starch (if starching fabric to the wall) could damage the finish on the wood paneling? That might be something to consider before trying. ???

If you can paint your furniture light colors, that will add some lightness. If not, or even if you can, I think fabric is your best bet for lightening things up. Try to keep your living area as sparse as you can - clutter really makes rooms feel closed in. Even if you have to add a big cabinet (painted white, of course) if you can keep the toys and other "artifacts of life" tucked away in there, at least some of the time, the room will feel bigger and what light you have will be able to actually reflect off the things you've chosen for that reason (instead of piles of clutter).

I'd suggest a light-colored floor covering, also, even if you have to buy remnants or throw rugs to lay on top of existing carpet or flooring.
 

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I can totally relate to your situation. We moved into a 70's mobile home about 5 months ago, decked from top to bottom in paneling! We technically could paint, but I am pregnant, and didn't want to expose myself to the fumes, which was hard for the designer in me...I was itching to paint soooooo baaaaaddd.... but, time has passed and I've made the space comfortable and surprisingly enough, the paneling has made its way into my heart.

I love the fabric/starch idea...thats an alternative I've dreamed about too, does anyone have more technical info or links about that process and is it permanent?

I'd also recommend looking into using the wooden frames that you can buy to stretch your own canvases. I have found them at Jo Ann's and local art stores (look in the painting section). They are really inexpensive (cheaper than frames). You buy each side individually and they slip together tongue in groove, so you can make any dimension you want from small to really big. Then just stretch the fabric over them, staple the edges down w/ a staple gun, and hang em up!

My other advice is choose warm colored curtains for the few windows you do have. That way, in the dark and dreary months, the light that comes through will feel warm and sunny even if its really gray!

Ultimately, the sense of grateful-ness that you can feel in your heart for having an affordable, safe, warm & dry space to be in will be enough to get you through! It has been great for me. This house isn't my dream home, but if we lived in my dream home right now, I wouldn't be able to stay home w/ our new baby!

Good Luck!
 

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Good for you!

If I were in your shoes, I would get the largest canvases I could afford and paint them with bright cheery colors and hang them on the wall. Simple, easy and you could reuse the canvases when you eventually move.
 
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