The House of Easy to Imitate Ideas

HGTV Magazine shows you a great-looking place that’s filled with clever decorating tricks that are a cinch to copy.

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Kim Cornelison

A Family Home

When Megan and Casey Collins moved into their four-bedroom Minneapolis home four years ago, it was dark with dated everything. “The challenge was to turn it into a bright, fresh place without spending lots of money on a major reno,” says Megan, a freelance writer, who shares the home with her husband and their kids (from left) Liva, 3, Isla, 5, and Mia, 7.

Kim Cornelison

Personal Touches

After painting nearly every square inch and shopping for budget-friendly furnishings, she found ways to weave in inventive tricks at every turn. There’s the deed to the house, blown up and framed in the entryway; the high chairs converted into seating for the kids at the kitchen table; an inexpensive upholstery move in the living room.

Kim Cornelison

Living Room

Megan bought the ivory leather sofa from the nearby Room & Board outlet with some trepidation. “With young kids, I thought, Uh-oh, this could be a disaster,” she says. “I use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on it, which is probably not what leather experts would suggest, but it works!”

Kim Cornelison

A Pair of Tables

Two identical wood cubes painted steely gray stand in for a coffee table. When friends come over, Megan pushes them together, throws a small tablecloth on top, and uses them as a mini buffet for drinks and snacks.

Kim Cornelison

Thrifty Fabric Trick + Angled Initial

With a piece of leftover fabric (Chiang Mai Dragon by Schumacher), Megan covered just the seat backs of a $50 pair of Craigslist chairs. The rest is upholstered in low-cost linen. This gold-painted wood C is from an antiques store. Find similar ones at ballarddesigns.com.

Kim Cornelison

Bowls on a Mantel

When Megan spotted this set at a junk store and realized they matched all the colors in the room, she put the bowls on display.

Kim Cornelison

Art Hung Low

Paintings don’t have to be at an adult’s eye level. Megan often hangs art where her kids can enjoy it. It’s easier to appreciate when you’re seated, too.

Kim Cornelison

Entryway

The old floor was blue laminate. “We couldn’t stand it, but we didn’t budget for a new floor,” says Megan. Instead she had the original one sanded and painted in a checkerboard pattern with a protective epoxy finish. “It cost about $800, but it would have been thousands to replace it.”

Kim Cornelison

Big Memento + Animal Hooks

The previous homeowners gave Megan the original deed for the 1907 house. She had it blown up to about 20 inches by 40 inches at an art supply store, then framed it. Instead of a coatrack, the family hangs bags and coats on a set of brass hooks from Anthropologie.

Kim Cornelison

Scripty Rug

The indoor/outdoor rug from ballarddesigns.com features a French poem about an ant and a cricket.

Kim Cornelison

Clear Console

An acrylic table from CB2 practically disappears in the corner. The woven bins, from West Elm (green) and shopmille.com (blue), hold bike helmets and dog leashes.

Kim Cornelison

Dining Room

To fit the whole family for holidays, Megan found a wood table on Craigslist that can extend to seat 12. She paired it with modern white Anziano chairs by Donghia (for a similar look, try allmodern.com) and two leather host chairs that were on sale at a local design center.

Kim Cornelison

Simple Centerpiece + Soft Seats

Megan’s trick for a pretty, long-lasting arrangement: Queen Anne’s lace (usually a bouquet filler) in a clear glass vase. A scrap of fabric is layered over the table runner. White cushions from IKEA (about $7 each) make the wood side chairs comfier.

Kim Cornelison

A Tree Inside + Curvy Pendant

The big bay window gives the fiddle leaf fig tree the bright, indirect sunlight it needs. Megan’s sister loved this sculpture-like glass fixture from Artemide so much that she hung the same one in her master bath.

Kim Cornelison

Kitchen

Even though the kitchen’s tight, Megan wanted the family to use it for meals. “I couldn’t find a table that fit the awkward space, so my neighbor, who builds furniture, made one out of reclaimed barn wood,” she says. The countertops are speckled brown/beige granite, and the cabinets, painted White Dove by Benjamin Moore, have knobs from Restoration Hardware.

Kim Cornelison

Right-Height Chairs

Instead of giving the kids adult chairs that are too low, Megan bought high chairs at an antiques shop. One had an attached tray, which she removed so they could be pulled close to the table.

Kim Cornelison

DIY Drapes

The curtains are made from a lightweight 38-inch-by-78-inch Turkish towel (scentsandfeel.com) cut in half, with 1-inch pockets sewn at the top to fit a tension rod.

Kim Cornelison

Playroom

The sunny room right off the kitchen is where the kids play and watch TV. The TV stand and nearly 8-foot-long couch are both from the Room & Board outlet, and the red cast aluminum table is from West Elm. Megan left the bank of windows, which overlooks the backyard, bare to let in as much light as possible.

Kim Cornelison

Magnet Art Wall

The wall behind the sofa is coated with magnetic paint (Magic Wall magnetic paint by Kling Magnetics) with a layer of latex paint over it. The kids’ pictures stay put with tiny Mighty Magnets from The Container Store.

Kim Cornelison

Replaceable Carpet

The room’s Flor carpet squares (Mild Mannered in peacock, flor.com) can be picked up and swapped out if they get stained.

Kim Cornelison

Photo Grid

Polaroids of the kids taken on their birthdays and half birthdays act as a crafty growth chart.

Kim Cornelison

Girls’ Bedroom

“My sister and I shared a room growing up, and I wanted Mia and Isla to have the same bonding experience,” says Megan. To keep floor space open in the small room, she had a carpenter build a loft bed with a real staircase instead of a ladder for Mia. Isla’s toddler bed fits snugly underneath. The colorful hooked rug is from Dash & Albert, and Megan found the look-alike doll bunk bed on Amazon.

Kim Cornelison

Party Decorations

Crepe paper flowers left over from a friend’s birthday are hung from fishing wire and ceiling hooks.

Kim Cornelison

Hidden Bookcase

Adjustable shelves line one side of the stairs up to the top bunk. “Proof that it can be fun to work with a really small space!” says Megan.

Kim Cornelison

Guest Bedroom

When Casey’s family and other out-of-towners visit, they stay in this guest room painted soft green. The queen-size black leather bed with white linens gets some color with throw pillows from Etsy (Megan’s favorite source for designer fabric pillows on the cheap) and a coral wool throw by Zuzunaga (kcolette.com for buying info).

Kim Cornelison

Cool Hardware

The dresser, which Megan spotted sitting outside a thrift store in New York City, was once drab green. White paint plus new glass knobs from Anthropologie totally turned it around.

Kim Cornelison

Fuzzy Bedside Rug

“I love the feel of sheepskin on your feet when you first get out of bed,” says Megan.

Kim Cornelison

Photo Shelf

A framed snapshot of Megan and Casey sits on a shell-shaped shelf just below a photo of Casey’s grandparents as a young couple.

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