The $200 Home Makeover by Daniela Garritano

Today I’m excited to feature a guest post by none other than the beautiful Daniela Garritano – designer extraordinaire, and one of the competitors on the Ultimate W Expert Challenge. Daniela is available for design consultations (email her here) and you can learn more about her on her Facebook Fan Page. Without further ado, take it away Daniela!

In a less than stellar economy, we could all use a little good news when it comes to how to improve our lifestyle on a budget, right? Well, what if I told you that you could makeover your home for less than 200 hundred bucks? Pretty sweet deal I’d think. So, here are my personal tried, tested and true secrets that really go the distance. Three elements will get you farther than most, but I’ll give you 5. Because any friend of Preet, is a friend of mine!

1) Paint the town red! (Or green, or blue…)

Get your coveralls ready! Colour with paint is by far the most affordable and vital design tool. And, did you know that with a simple coat of paint, you can instantly increase the value of your home by thousands of dollars? How’s that for incentive!

Daniela’s pick: Ralph Lauren Exceptional Quality Paint, $39.99 per gallon, available at the Home Depot. They may have a limited colour palette when compared to other major paint retailers, but think of how much easier your choice will be! And the best part? The coverage is so incredible, that one coat is often all it takes! Imagine not only the time you’ll save, but also the coin, since you can likely get away with only one can as opposed to the standard two gallons for an average sized room. Happy painting!

D’s Tip: Take your paint swatch with you when you shop! You’ll have a much better idea of what to match and it will cut down on back and forth trips to the store.

2) Let there be light!

Every room needs a practical lighting plan with a mix of ambient and task lighting. So, what you want to do is softly illuminate your space through layers of diffused light. Try incorporating table-side lamps, or floor lamps to have a balanced level of background and direct lighting.

For a warm and traditional look, opt for finishes in bronze or wood. For a more modern take, chrome or brushed nickel is your best bet.

Daniela’s Pick: Style at Home Floor Lamp in Espresso, $39.99 available at Rona.

D’s Tip: Use halogen or incandescent bulbs over fluorescent ones. They are the most effective artificial light and they offer the same softness and subtly that natural light delivers.  

3) Baby, pillow talk is cheap

Now, here’s your chance to really have some fun! There’s nothing that adds comfort and texture to a room quite like big squishy pillows! Their plush seduction of softness is what makes a room so inviting and they’re super affordable for a quick fix.

Silk, suede and chenille are some of the most luxurious linens. Use similar fabrics to layer in the softness with gentler hues like blues and lavenders to make a room calming and serene. For an atmosphere of warmth, choose rich dazzling jewel tones like pomegranate or topaz.

Daniela’s Pick: Faux Suede Throw Pillow, $9.99 (for a pack of two!) available at Zeller’s

D’s Tip: Instead of using multiple pillows of the same shape and size, try mixing pillows of different dimensions. Stick with the same colour scheme throughout, and you’re golden!

4) Come along with me, on a magic carpet ride…

An area rug is what I consider to be the anchor that really unifies all of the design elements together (Preet says: like the rug that really tied the room together in The Big Lebowski. Okay, I’ll shut up now.) and it’s a foolproof way to add some whimsy and texture to any room.

Don’t be afraid to add some zing! Bold patterned rugs add texture and color without being overwhelming and they have a chameleon-like effect, by blending with other colours throughout the room.

Natural or organic fibres are better choices because of their durability. They live up to high traffic areas, and are low maintenance when it comes to removing dirt and stains.

Daniela’s Pick: Select Edition 60″x 96″Area Rug in Beige, $48.88 available at Wal-mart.

D’s Tip: Look for a rug with rubber backing to hold still and prevent you from slipping and sliding all over the place! You’ll thank me for it later when your furniture doesn’t budge.

5) In Full Bloom

Whatever your style, fresh flowers really are a flawless way to pump up your space. They look fabulous and they’re an inexpensive way to add some vibrant and eye-popping graphics. And best of all, you don’t have to be a genius of floral design to pull off a hot looking arrangement!

Stuck for a vase? If it can hold water, it can hold flowers! Old watering cans and even teapots make a charming base for any arrangement.

Daniela’s Pick: Loblaws Superstore Fresh Flower 10 Day Bouquet, $9.99.

D’s Tip: To hold onto your bouquet a bit longer, look for a bunch that has yet to be in full bloom. Trim the bottoms on an angle under some running tepid water, and your arrangement should last even longer. My personal favourite place to display is on the bedside table. The aroma is close by, and those beautiful blooms are the first thing you see when you wake. What a wonderful way to start the day on a positive note!

Next time from Daniela: Gettin’ hitched? How to have a champagne wedding on a beer salary!

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Showing 11 comments
  • Cam Birch

    These are great suggestions. Most of which I have already been using to keep my home nice.

    My opinion on the lighting item is exactly opposite of yours though. Quality CF lights produce the same color range of an incandecent and cost way less to operate.

  • Susan

    Great ideas and truly budget conscious (unlike some so-called “budget” tips). Thanks!

  • Preet

    @Cam Birch – thanks for the input. I’ve seen a lot of press earlier this year (or late last year) on those types of bulbs being dangerous – anyone know if that was isolated to one manufacturer of if it’s been fixed? I’ll see if Daniela can offer her two cents too… cheers!

  • Preet

    @Susan – thanks for the note, I’m going to try and get more articles out of Daniela – she’s got some really great advice and a fantastic sense of style too.

  • Cam Birch

    @Preet- I hadn’t heard. I purchase my CF bulbs from Costco and they are pretty good at informing their customers when a recall occurs so I would suspect that it was a manufacturing issue. I do know that the EU (European Union) is pushing pretty hard at outlawing Incandecent lights and replacing them with CF lights. I don’t know if/when that will happen but Europe is usually between 5 and 30 years ahead of us on environmental issues. My expectation is with a EU push for less power consumption that CF and other more efficent bulbs will be considered safe enough for general use.

    The only real annoying thing is CF doesn’t work with dimmer switches :(
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  • bamboo

    pretty cool info there!!

  • Kiki

    Very useful, practical ideas here! Sometimes it’s hard to know what you can do to give a room a makeover when you have a limited budget, but these ideas are all realistic and I love how there are suggestions for products, prices and places to get them at! Thank you – so helpful :-)

  • Joanne

    This article was so helpful and most importantly, realistic and practical. I simply purchased an area rug and a few pillows for my living room and I cannot beleive the difference. It only cost us $75. The room is more inviting, more tailored and didn’t break the bank! Finally, a designer who isn’t pretentious and gets the fact that not everyone can afford big budget makeovers. How refreshing!

  • Chris

    My wife and I really liked this article. We’re always looking for ways to improve our home, and this gave us some realistic resources that are truly easy and affordable for the budget concious and the design impaired. Also, thank you Preet for featuring Daniela…we watched the W expert challenge and we really loved her as well on the show. Looking forward to more articles from her.

  • Lianne

    Love your articles, Daniela. Please keep ‘em coming. Like the other posters, I really appreciate not only the great tips, but the actual products and prices. And I always really appreciate ideas for current paint colours, like the two you gave in your house staging article. More, more, more – please!

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