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furniture-webRISMEDIA, March 21, 2009- (MCT)-Forget the pessimistic attitude, recessionistas. While the outside world can appear pretty depressing these days, your home can still be your haven, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to lift your spirits.

Carlos Matta, a Miami “lifestyle designer,” does everything from finding his clients a home to stocking it with towels and bed linens and lives by the mantra: Minor changes can add glam without damaging your budget.
“You should brighten your living spaces because that’s where you go at the end of the day to energize your batteries,” he said. “Our surroundings can affect our mood completely. We want to come home to a homey feeling.”

Turn your home into a haven by following these simple steps:

1. Move things around.
2. Sometimes all it takes to re-energize a room is to move the furniture around. The best way to start is to move all the furniture out of the room and look at the space with fresh eyes. Consider all the rooms in your home a “store” and move furniture and accessories from room to room.
3. Shop around for good deals. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a lower price when you shop. “You will be surprised how much you can get by asking,” Matta said, pointing out he has haggled for additional discounts. “Everyone wants to sell, and this is the perfect time to get a bargain.”
4. Decorate your wall with porcelain plates. You don’t even have to leave the house to accomplish this. Go into your cupboard and find plates that look compatible. Matta said it’s best to keep the arrangement simple and use no more than three colors. Arrange the plates on a large table and play around with the elements until you find an arrangement you like. Take pictures with your digital camera to help you compare your ideas. Measure the spaces between the plates and hang them on the wall. You can find plate hangers at a crafts store or look for them online.
5. Garden stools aren’t just for the garden. They can be used as inexpensive end tables or simply put a couple together with a glass top to make a coffee table. Look for good deals in local consignment shops and online. Some of the best buys are on
6. Buy new pillows in happy, vibrant colors. Changing your throw pillows is a great way to enhance a sofa, bed or chair. You can change them seasonally. Use pastels for spring and brighter colors for summer. Add a throw to pick up one of the colors.
7. Be creative with wall art. You don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy, framed art. Instead, buy stock frames and fill them with black-and-white photos from books or with different fabrics.
8. Forget the neutrals in main living areas. Paint the walls in a happy color, such as yellow, which is full of energy. Don’t be afraid of intensity- go for it full blast.
9. Don’t forget the laundry room. Most of us enter our homes through the garage and laundry room, but it’s the one space we often forget to decorate. Make it the room that makes you smile. Creating horizontal or vertical stripes allows you to make the ceilings look taller or the room look bigger. Put blue tape on the walls to visualize how it will look.
10. Add an area rug. Rugs define areas, such as dining or conversation groups, and they can warm up a room.
11. Keep window treatments simple. Keep it light where you want to enjoy the view. Spend money on a quality, attractive rod and dress it with inexpensive side panels.

“My main advice to consumers is to shop around,” said Matta. “There are great deals to take advantage of.”

© 2009, Sun Sentinel.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.