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By Charlyne Varkonkyi Schaub

RISMEDIA, July 29, 2008-(MCT)-Sure your budget is tight these days. Isn’t everyone’s? But less money doesn’t mean your home has to look shabby minus the chic.

We canvassed the Internet and some of our favorite “Cheap Chic” sources to give you five ideas that can pep up your decor without cleaning out your wallet. Prices range from $12 to $249.

Besides our inspirational examples, we sought some advice from Stacey Winick, a visual coordinator in Delray Beach, Fla. Visual coordinators rearrange a client’s existing furnishings, suggest what to eliminate and may help you select new paint colors and accessories.

“You need to figure out what’s really important,” Winick says. “When I go through a house, I put all the things I’m not using on a table in the garage. If you do this, later you can decide what to keep and what to let go. Figure out what you can send to a consignment shop or have a garage sale. Use the extra money to buy the extra things you want.”

1. The Big Picture

A floor lamp ($249) with a fashionable drum-style pleated shade can hike the hip quotient of a room. One of the other great ideas in this room is the way the art is displayed. Although there are several small pieces of art, the impact is big because they are hung on a larger background. You can achieve a similar look.

Buy a large piece of plywood, use a staple gun to attach a stable fabric that won’t stretch out of shape and hang the board on the wall. Add your existing art, frame pictures from a coffee table book or magazine. If you have more budget, you can buy the art and frames in the photo ($14-$19 for the art and $12-$44 for the frames).

2. Seeing the Light

An interesting table lamp or pair of lamps can also add pizzazz to a room that is beginning to look dated. We found a Bulatan zebra lamp that is 24 inches high and can help a room look more eclectic. It sells for $45 at Pier 1 Imports.

3. Time To Decorate

Even something as simple as a colorful new clock can pick up the style in a room. We found a 10 ½-inch square wooden wall clock ($24.99) is from the new Sami Hayek Collection for Target. It’s battery powered and can be cleaned with a dry cloth. Hayek also has designed a bed spread and shams, pillows, lamps and storage boxes that coordinate with the colors in the clock. (Hayek, who infuses his native Mexico into his work, is the younger brother of actress Salma Hayek.) Available at Target stores.

4. Heady Design

If your bedroom looks like some of those on the HGTV “before” scenes because you don’t have a headboard, here’s an answer for $60. Check out this Mid-Century Gothic headboard made out of stencils that were designed by the Savannah College of Art interns. They are available in three color combinations-Aruba/Gold, Beige/Teal and Light Gray/Tomato.

5. Film Stars

You may not have the artistic acumen of the decorators on “Trading Spaces” and “Design Star,” but you can get more than a little help from decorative products such as Gila window film. The film, available in a variety of sizes, can mimic custom glass looks. Styles include stained glass, textured and etched. It can be used on doors and windows as well as the underside of a glass table, on a glass tray or picture frame, on the underside of a Plexiglas placement or on a vase. A great look for South Florida is the Etched Palm. The micro-thin product is made of polyester or vinyl and is mounted with Gila’s EZ-Mount adhesive and can be removed easily when you feel like redecorating. It sells for $17-$30 a roll at The Home Depot and Lowe’s.

More Cheap Tricks

Visual Coordinator Stacey Winick loves to help folks decorate on a budget. Here are some of her tips:

– Cut out photos and phrases from magazines that express your dreams or desires and place them in inexpensive frames. These collages add color and inspiration.
– Find floral or green accents in your yard. You can put something as simple as areca palm fronds in a clear vase.
– Look throughout your home for accents on the same theme. Group them together for more impact.
– A collection of mirrors in different shapes and sizes hung across from a sliding glass door reflects the outdoors.
– Shop your closet, attic crawl space and garage for items you haven’t used in a while. The old things will look new again. Your closet may be another surprising source for decor. Winick framed a Valentino scarf with a horse theme.

© 2008, South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.