Creative Home Improvements
Sandra Magsamen
Artful Home Projects
Just because you don't have a lot of extra cash doesn't mean you can't invest in your home. Artist and author Sandra Magsamen offers some artful, low-charge and no-charge ways to create a home that stimulates, captivates and motivates.
Couple painting a room
Color Outside of the Lines
Color is a wonderful gift, and paint is low cost. Repaint a room or all the rooms in your home. Dream about what feeling you want a room or rooms to share, and think through possible color choices. Journey down to the local paint store for an adventure, and gather tons of paint chips for your consideration and reflection (they are free).

Rummage and explore magazines, pulling out pages of rooms that you want to live in. Look for inspiration everywhere, including friends' homes, museums, movie sets and nature.

When you are ready to paint, make it fun. Host a paint party and invite some friends over. Make a plan for the evening and give everyone a job. Before you know it, you'll have splashed some new life into those old walls.

Remember when thinking about color that white brings in light and is the perfect canvas for hanging colorful art. Red is bold, primary and dramatic. Blue is reflective and peaceful. Green is all about nature and calm, and yellow activates and brightens any room.
Cluttered living room
Putter the Clutter
In my home, clutter seems to multiply magically. Piles of books form here and there, baskets of unrelated items seem to pile up throughout my house and stacks of papers simply grow bigger in size without any human intervention.

For some of us, clutter can be daunting and can make our homes feel messy and unorganized. For others, clutter feels comfortable and fine. If you are one of those folks who love clutter, skip right past this section, but if clutter annoys you, my advice is to "putter the clutter."

It is really hard to declutter a house in one day because it is such a daunting task, so putter around in each room. Break down the job and pick a room to declutter, then move on to the next room another day. Remember, all this clutter didn't gather in one day and it doesn't have to go away in one day either.

If you break this job into small puttering steps, you'll have a better chance of getting it all done and not be overwhelmed by doing it. Make this job as fun as you can by putting on some great favorite music and dancing your way through the job. Ask yourself as you start this job, "What do I really need and want?" Today is the day to recycle old magazines and donate clothes, furniture and items that could help someone else. Pare down to what feels comfortable and nurturing for you.

Couple carrying a couch
Rearrange for Change
If you have grown tired of the same old furniture in your living room and don't have the finances right now to go out and buy all new pieces, I suggest you do a little rearranging and you'll be delighted by the change. This tip costs nothing—the only thing you will need is the willingness to play!

Play around with what you already own and see how you could reuse or rearrange in your home. You could go wild with this idea, like moving the living room into the dining room and the dining room into the old living room, or simply rearrange the bedroom by moving the bed under the window so you can feel the spring and summer breezes.

By simply playing around and moving around what you already own, you can change the whole look and feel of your home.
Woman sewing
Get Creative
There are so many fun projects to explore and create as you invest in your home. Instead of running to the store to buy an accessory or home decorating item, think about how you might recycle, reuse or create a work of art instead.

  • Make new pillows for the sofa by recycling and reusing fabrics.
  • Sew a quilt from clothing that you no longer want to wear but that would be beautiful as a patchwork quilt.
  • Paint a whole wall in chalkboard paint and enjoy writing, doodling, drawing, leaving messages, sharing famous quotes, creating or simply jotting down the grocery list.
  • Need some lighting? Instead of purchasing a new lamp, why not decorate a lamp shade to match the room? Hot gluing colorful ribbons, buttons or fabric to a shade can look beautiful and artful. Using ceramic tile adhesive on a lamp base and gluing in shards of pottery or stones can create a beautiful mosaic feel to any lamp.
  • Need a new rug in the foyer? Try painting a large piece of canvas and make a durable canvas rug. Using acrylic paint, paint the canvas with a design, paint splatter, words or any art that you love. Once dry, varnish with water base polyurethane four or five times, and you'll have a canvas rug that will be a work of art.
  • Make a wreath out of vines you find on a walk in the woods. Gather vines and roll them up in a circle, then tie them together with string. You can decorate the wreath with anything or nothing.
Woman gardening
Grow Beauty
Create a garden in a window, a window box, a terra-cotta pot or the whole front yard. Growing flowers and vegetables is fun, satisfying and always makes a home more beautiful.

Enjoy planting and nurturing your garden, no matter its size. There is great joy and accomplishment that comes from helping anything grow. Make a lettuce garden and enjoy wonderful salads, plant herbs to use all year round, grow flowers you can cut and make a beautiful bouquet from and share your garden with others. You'll grow great friendships.

You don't have to spend big money to create the home of your dreams—you only need to spend some time and energy putting your imagination to work.

More ways to add elegant touches to your home »