The Whimsical Look on a Budget

Follow these 4 tips for making your decorating fantasies come true while on a budget.

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Let your imagination take flight no matter how down-to-earth your budget is. Consider these suggestions for creating a fantastic ambience.

  1. Achieve a fantasy look on the walls even if you're an amateur painter. Mix a color wash of four parts glazing medium to one part paint. Dip a brush into the mixture and apply the paint in a crosshatching motion.

  2. Buy furniture that's as plump and comfortable as you can afford. You can stitch slipcovers for chairs bought at a hotel liquidation store. And you can cover couch cushions with a funky fabric of your choosing. Keep in mind that repeating patterns unifies decorating elements. In the pictured room, squares in the sofa cushions are repeated in the cabinetry and again on the side tables. Swirls in the rug repeat the circular movement of the clock and the topiaries.

  3. The pictured cabinet was built affordably from a 4-foot-square plywood box divided into nine equal sections. If you aren't a skilled builder, look for similar bookcases at furniture stores and mass merchandisers. Stow books and living-room essentials in the closed cabinets, and use the open shelves to display a favorite collection. Shop flea markets and garage sales for items like old garden finials, antique yarn spools and old wooden bowling pins to create a lighthearted look.

  4. Fresh flowers are always appropriate to a whimsical look, and you can also accessorize with arrangements of fresh fruit that add color and natural scents.

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