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By Gail Borelli

RISMEDIA, July 3, 2008-(MCT)-Times are tough, and many homeowners are looking for inexpensive ways to give rooms a pick-me-up. The May issue of Domino shows how something as simple as a new lampshade can really tweak a room’s decor.

The magazine took three common lamp bases and topped each with several different shades. Swapping out the shades totally changed each lamp’s personality. For example, a white candlestick base looks very Carrie Bradshaw (“Sex and the City”) when topped with a pink pleated silk shade. But when that girly shade is replaced with a white drum shade trimmed with stripes of chocolate velvet, the candlestick lamp looks more like the traditionally suited Mr. Big.

The magazine has some suggestions for choosing the right size shade.

Get out the tape measure:

Measure the lamp from the bottom of the base to the top of the neck and multiply that number by 0.75. The shade should not be any taller than the resulting figure.

Measure straight across the bottom of a round base and multiply by 2. That figure should be the approximate width of the new shade.

If the lamp base is square, measure the bottom on the diagonal and multiply by 2 to find the approximate width.

It’s nearly impossible to choose shades in isolation, so take the entire lamp with you when you shop.

Also in this issue:

Another budget-friendly change is swapping out your sofa legs. Most are screwed into the sofa’s frame and can be easily replaced with minimalist feet, bun feet or claw feet. With the addition of some new pillows, this could give your sofa a brand-new look at a fraction of the price.

One homeowner disguises a chain-link fence next to his outdoor patio by buying large planters and filling them with custom-made plastic boxwood hedges. The pros: The fake plants are always green, they never need to be trimmed and they don’t drop leaves all over the patio. The cons: There’s something weird about using artificial plants outdoors.

Form Over Function?

Neutrals predominate in the home of a Minnesota couple featured in the June issue of Better Homes and Gardens. The walls are light beige, the trim is white, the furniture looks as if it’s upholstered in muslin. Even the artwork above the mantel is of three brown dogs.

One clutter tip offered: On the bookcases next to the fireplace, the homeowner “shelves her books pages-out for a less cluttered look,” the magazine says. The pages are all various shades of white, which fits well with the neutral color scheme. But surely it’s easier to find the book you want when the spines-colorful or not-are facing outward.

© 2008, The Kansas City Star.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.