When there were kids in the house, even teenagers, it was probably not uncommon for you to find yourself cleaning up after a spill or a broken glass, muttering to yourself, "This is why we can't have nice things." Well, now that the nest is empty, you can!
Moreover, tweaking your home to look like the images you've always admired in magazines doesn't need to be a major strain on your budget. Decorating your dream living room or dining room requires little more than ingenuity and a few hours of your time.
First, take a look at what you already have and think about how you can refurbish it or give it some flair. Perhaps there's an old dresser that has been sitting in the basement, storing odds and ends. Sanding, priming and painting can give it new life. Let your imagination run wild when thinking about colors and finishes. A deep red lacquer finish is bound to make a bigger impact than choosing a basic matte neutral. After all, you can always keep it in the basement if you don't like it.
Take a walk through your home and think of unconventional ways to use objects. For instance, if you have a collection of sturdy coffee-table books, stacking them beside a chair or sofa makes a stylish, interesting table that will surely draw compliments. Just be sure to place the biggest ones on the bottom and smaller books on the top for stability.
Review your old lamps, knickknacks and wall hangings that you may have gotten tired of at some point and stored away. You may be surprised to find some old gems. Consider having a party with friends and family members where everyone brings a few small decorating objects to swap.
Paint and window treatments can make all the difference, and they're easy to do on the cheap. Consider a bold color that will help bring about a certain mood. For instance, blues and greens are thought to be soothing, while yellows and oranges may stimulate the senses. Reds or pinks may be ideal for a dining room, because they are said to enhance appetite.
It's pretty simple to make your own curtains, perhaps with some fabric you already have lying around. Think about taking an adult education class to learn the basics. Once you have these down, you can make your own pillowcases and duvet covers and eventually move on to clothing.