Many viewers love TLC’s Trading Spaces for the occasional episodes depicting home décor gone awry. Few can resist tuning in to see how owners will react to such elements as hay glued to their living-room walls by Hilda Santo-Tomas, the program’s loose-cannon designer.
Most of the episodes, though, have decidedly happier outcomes. And by embracing the use of color and realistic budgets, both Trading Spaces and its British inspiration, Changing Rooms, have done much to raise genuine interest in home design. Fortunately, many of the programs’ strategies can be applied to your own home — with no laboring neighbors required.
From walls to found furniture, painting is the fastest, least-expensive way to reinvent your space. At Johnson’s Paint Company, you’ll find paint chips, expertise, and tools galore. Some standouts are gold-leaf paint ($12.50) and powders ($6.95), old-fashioned milk paint ($8.95), and antique crackle paint ($19.99–$32.95). Looking for some magnetism in your space? Try a magnetic primer ($13.75–$22.95) that you can paint over.
If your lease forbids you to tamper with those linen-white walls, there are many nonpermanent ways to dress things up. To save money, update existing furniture instead of buying new pieces. At Bed Bath & Beyond, you’ll find a saddle-colored suede-like sofa slipcover ($139.99) and taupe- and moss-colored cotton slipcovers for chairs ($59.99), love seats ($79.99), and sofas ($99). If your dining-room chairs don’t match, you can unify them with sage or burgundy cotton-velvet slipcovers ($29.99). Or try the ivory or champagne damask slipcovers ($19.99).
Replace dingy aluminum blinds with classic white or natural Roman shades ($29.99–$39.99) from Target. And Bed Bath & Beyond offers chiffon, suede-like, and velvet pocket-panel curtains ($24.99–$39.95) and six-foot scarves ($59.99–$79.99) in earth tones. If you’d like to create your own window treatments but lack the requisite sewing skills, buy Stitch Witchery hem tape ($3.19) at Target. Just measure the width of your windows plus how far you’d like the scarf to drape on each side, cut a sheet or piece of vintage fabric to that length, and finish the fabric edges by ironing on the hem tape.
You probably don’t have carpenters Ty Pennington or Amy Wynn Pastor on hand to build a massive headboard. But you can still make your bed a focal point through the dramatic use of mosquito netting ($19.99) or a faux-mink duvet ($99.99) with matching pillows ($19.99), available at Bed Bath & Beyond.
You can also revamp furniture and kitchen cabinets with hardware from Anthropologie. Options include faceted glass and antique-brass handles ($18), pressed-glass knobs in Moroccan colors ($16/pair), hand-painted Chinese porcelain knobs ($16/pair), black-and-white checkerboard knobs ($12/pair), and ceramic melon knobs ($12/pair) in vintage greens and yellows.
If you love a particular Pottery Barn wall accessory, wait until Target has it for less. Its oval beveled-edge mirror ($19.99), which can be hung from a decorative ribbon, rivals the $69 Pottery Barn version. Meanwhile, Target has medicine cabinets ranging from a modern white three-cube cabinet with towel bar ($33.99) to vintage-looking mirrored models ($39.99–$64.99) comparable to Pottery Barn designs costing $69 and up.
Where to find it:
• Anthropologie, 799 Boylston Street, Boston, (617) 262-0545; 300 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, (617) 559-9995; www.anthropologie.com.
• Bed Bath & Beyond, 401 Park Drive, Boston, (617) 536-1090, and other locations; www.bedbathandbeyond.com.
• Johnson’s Paint Company, 355 Newbury Street, Boston, (617) 266-5210.
• Target, 180 Somerville Avenue, Somerville, (617) 776-4036; 1 Mystic View Road, Everett, (617) 420-0000; 550 Arsenal Street, Watertown Mall, Watertown, (617) 924-6574; www.target.com.