Decorating for the Artistic Soul

Are you concerned about showing the one you love how much you care for them this Valentine’s Day because you live on a tight budget? If so, you’re not along. Many people are struggling due to the tough economy and buying expensive gifts is not always an option. Fortunately, that’s not a problem. There are many ways you can make this one of the happiest days of year for your sweetheart and be romantic on a budget. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Be a thrifty shopper and compare products and prices before you buy.
  • Start shopping early and you can often find some really great deals on the perfect gift.
  • Instead of roses this year, consider a different type of flower that is less expensive or a plant that will last for a longer period of time.
  • Make your sweetheart a Valentine’s Day card instead of buying one or write a love poem.
  • Be creative with your gift giving. For example, some people would rather receive a gift that you made yourself from your heart instead of an expensive store bought item. Consider putting together a photo album of the time you’ve spent together or simply spend the day together without interruptions.
  • Instead of going out to dinner to a five start restaurant, make a romantic dinner at home and serve it by candlelight.

These are just a few of the things you can do to make this valentine’s Day special for the one you love without going over your budget. You’ll be surprised at all the things you can do if you put your mind to it. The main thing is that you know your partner and choose something that would have special meaning to him or her. When you do this, you can’t go wrong regardless of price.


A lot of people who have the talent for making home make crafts are often reluctant to give them away as gifts. This could be caused by a lack of self confidence. In some cases, the memory of receiving an ugly homemade gift from a friend or relative keeps us from sharing our work.

A walk through any craft bazaar or flea market will show that when it comes to homemade items, there is no accounting for taste. People will be standing in line to snap up a high priced item that would cause you to cringe if you received it as a gift, while the finely crafted and fair priced items are ignored.

Knowing the tastes of the recipient of the gift will be an indicator of how the gift is appreciated. Like all gifts, the handmade gift should be something the recipient will enjoy getting, rather than something the giver enjoys making or giving.

If you’re looking for gift ideas, check out the local craft stores. They will often offer classes to introduce new products that they sell. Many of these classes are free and the participant only has to pay for the materials used.

Keep your eyes open for free patterns as you browse the aisles of the craft store for items that you think that you can make that the intended recipient will enjoy.

Once you find the materials for the homemade gift that you will enjoy making and the recipient will get pleasure receiving, let the creativity flow. Gifts created out of love hold a special place in many hearts.


A little bit of knowledge can save you big money with repair bills, whether you plan on doing the repair yourself or if a professional contractor will have to be called in. With proper advance planning and preparation, you can keep a malfunction from becoming a major and costly damage crisis.


Know the location of the shutoffs for the home electricity. Make sure the circuit breakers or fuses are all appropriately marked and that the identifiers can easily be read by the light of even a dim flashlight.

Just because you have shut off the electricity to a room or appliance, don’t assume that there is no voltage to the appliance or outlet. Check and double check to make sure that there is no electricity running through to avoid property damage or injury. Use a voltage tester to make sure you won’t get an unexpected shock.


Locate the main shut off valve for the gas line into your home. Make sure every family member knows the location. Make sure you are familiar with how the valve works. In an emergency like a leak, shut off the outside main valve first to keep leakage to a minimum. Once the main line has been closed, you will have the time to access the shutoff valve for the appliance without being overcome by fumes.


A broken water line can quickly cause a lot of damage. Most sinks and toilets, as well as electrical appliances that use water have a shutoff valve in the vicinity of the fixture. But it’s always important to know where the main shut off valve is located in case the damaged water line or pipe is spewing water before it gets to the shutoff valve.

You want your home to be inviting to your guests, but when it comes to choosing a decorating style many choose trendy decorating themes. If you choose to spend your decorating budget on items that will impress your friends rather that reflecting your own flair, you may just end up trying to live your life around the home furnishings instead of enjoying them.

Have the confidence of decorating using your own flair and good taste. Most people will be happiest in a home that they decorate to reflect their own lifestyles and their families’ tastes rather than decorating to impress other people. A creative use of colors, texture and layering will make the home environment a place for your family to relax and recharge from the stresses of the outside world.

Use accessories that achieve the double function of being attractive while allowing display or storage space. If young children play in your living room or hearth area, don’t try to remove all traces of their belongings. Instead, use attractive baskets, cubes and boxes to store their toys in.

Show off the treasures you’ve acquired on family outings with strategic placement on shelves, in display cabinets or snuggled with your books. It’s true that art is in the eye of the beholder. Even an elegantly furnished room can benefit by a properly presented masterpiece created by a young child. Display the things you love with pride.

Your home décor is your personal choice, make it truly a representation of you and your family and a place that is comforting and filled with love.

The laundry room is not a place we spend a lot of time but it can still be comfortable, efficient and welcoming. The size and location of your laundry room will determine how much you can do with it. With a little planning, organizing and some of your own personal touches, the laundry room can be an attractive space in your home.

Concrete Walls

If your laundry room is in an unfinished basement area, you may be faced with concrete walls. Painting them can help. Or try adding some tile-like wallboard to add texture to the space. Wire racks or shelving can be added by using a masonry drill bit and concrete screws. This will add organization and accessibility to your supplies.

Storage Ideas

In a small space, stackable, front-loading machines can be a lifesaver. You could install a workspace countertop over a pair of side-by-side, front-loading machines to have a place to fold, sort or iron clothes. Cabinets or shelving above the appliances can organize supplies. A closet rod, suspended from the cabinet can give you a place to hang clothes to dry or to hang them as you remove them from the dryer before putting t hem away.


If the room allows, set up separate hampers for colors, whites and delicates and maybe a separate one for really grimy work clothes. Have family members sort their own laundry into the hampers on wash day. Carts on wheels with divided bags are useful for this purpose. Wall-mounted ironing boards that fold down when needed are another option for the laundry room.

Fun Stuff

Decorating a laundry room can bring out your personality. Go for an early American look by displaying old washboards and amusing wall plaques depicting scenes of hand-washing clothes or clothes hanging on lines. If your laundry room is situated near or in an entryway, use a bench seat and coat rack so shoes and coats can be stored neatly. Small spaces will need just one box of peel-and-stick floor tiles to spruce up the floor. Don’t forget some workspace lighting.

The Victorian period, defined by the years of life of Queen Victoria (1819 to 1901) appeals to those with a sense of elegance and formality. It was a time of increasing affluence and homeowners wanted to indulge in their need to display their wealth, however moderate it might have been.

Creating this style in your home means understanding some of the basic principles of Victorian decorating. Bold fabrics, floral or ornate patterns in wallpaper and lots of bric-a-brac gave the Victorian home an opulent feel. To them, more was better. Focus on the living room, kitchen and bedroom to achieve this look.


If you prefer the look of wall paper, stick to small floral patterns. For painted rooms, add a floral painted border around windows and doorways. Window coverings should also be floral print fabrics with lace under panels. To carry the theme to an extreme, follow the Victorian practice of matching linens, drapes and wallpaper in the same pattern. Hard wood floors were prevalent in Victorian times, adorned with ornate area rugs. Four-poster beds with canopies and dark, heavy wood furniture figured prominently. Washstands, armoires and dressing tables rounded out the furnishings.


Creating a Victorian look in a kitchen can be costly but definitely worth it. Floors were brick, marble or hardwood. You can use tile to simulate the look. Open walls benefit from the addition of wainscoting and simple trim along the top. Wainscot colors were often antique green or a dark brown. Add a plate rail for displaying platters, plates and china. A large work table in the center of the room and open shelving on the walls to display antique utensils and dishware lend an authentic feel. Muslin curtains and stenciled doorways and windows finish the room.

Living Rooms

The parlor was very formal as that is where guests were greeted. Almost always wallpapered with intricate patterns of birds, flowers or scrollwork, the walls were finished with ornate crown moldings. Ceiling medallions, painted or plain, add interest. Heavy draperies in velvet or brocade were tied back and attached to scrollwork on the wall. Topped off with valances, the draperies had a many-layered appearance. Button-tufted sofas, chairs and footstools complete the Victorian look.

Open any home decorating magazine and you’re bound to see glossy photos of a country kitchen decorated in a blue color scheme. There are some simple and cost-effective ways to achieve this look in your home. With a little elbow grease, a creative mind and some frugal shopping, you can create your very own blue country kitchen.

Wall Treatments

The obvious option is paint the walls a cornflower blue but there are other possibilities. Gingham-like wallpaper could add just the right touch just a French provincial pattern blue on white paper could. Eggshell or pale yellow walls could give needed contrast if you choose to use blue in other ways.


If you prefer an older look, try crackle paint to give cabinets an aged look. For a fresher look, paint the cabinets white or blue, whichever is in contrast to the color used on the walls. Perhaps a combination of white frames with blue doors, accented by appliqués or china teapots or some other pattern suits your tastes. Another choice might be white or pale yellow cabinets accented with pull handles and drawer pulls.


Plate racks, a plate rail or a series of white ribbons can all display blue and white china plates and cups found in second-hand stores to add a country touch. Café-style curtains in gingham or white eyelet materials can ad country interest to windows. Canisters and country crocks stored on top of counters can hold essentials and utensils while adding to the country charm of your kitchen.

Tablecloths, napkins, potholders and dish towels can be another way to add the color blue to your kitchen. Blue stoneware or dishes displayed in open cabinets or arranged in place settings on the table put a finished look to the room.

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