NEW YORK (AP) — With the housing recovery gaining steam, Americans have more incentives to paint up, touch up and otherwise redecorate their homes. But there's no need to spend willy-nilly.
From finding treasures on eBay.com to taking advantage of new offerings at department stores and discounters, there are plenty of ways to make your home more stylish on the cheap.
"There's no excuse for an undecorated home on any budget," said Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, a retail consultancy. "Home has as much retail selection as fashion. And you can get a lot of buys."
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, has expanded this year its assortment of window treatments like blinds, and is also bolstering offerings on rugs, decorative pillows, bathroom accessories and patio furniture. Under the discounter's Better Homes & Gardens brand, decorative pillows range from $11.97 to $13.97.
Meanwhile, Target Corp., known for its cheap chic home designs, has launched a full line for the new store brand called Threshold, which offers a variety of goods from dinnerware sets to sheets and towels. And J.C Penney Co. is counting on a newly revamped home area that opens April 5 that houses new brands like Jonathan Adler, Sir Terence Conran, and Bodum. Michael Graves, who ended his 13-year partnership with Target last year and is known for his stylish tea kettles, is also joining Penney this spring.
Here are six tips for decorating your home:
— DO YOUR HOMEWORK: First, create a budget and search around to get inspiration. To get ideas, attend open houses to see how other people are decorating their homes. You can also find how-to videos and decorating blogs on such sites as HSN, HomeGoods, Lowe's and Home Depot.
There are fewer home decor magazines than there used to be. But you can always flip through catalogs from stores such as Ballard Designs to get some tips.
Also, experts encourage you to do broad searches on the Web. EBay just launched a new technology called Feed that allows you to personalize your searches based on your style, like mod 1960s.
"It's all about getting unexpected things," said Chris Benz, an American fashion designer who is collaborating with eBay on various fashion collections. He said he has furnished his apartment and office with eclectic eBay finds like vintage Italian turquoise pottery pieces.
— PICK AND CHOOSE: Study your space and figure out what pieces of furniture you'll be using more. So if you spend a lot of time in your living room, you may want to spend more on a sofa and an entertainment center that would house your flat-screen TV and books.
It's like investing in good shoes or a handbag, said Pallavi Naidu, vice president of merchandising and product development at Atlanta-based Ballard Designs. Spending more on items that get lots of use means they will last longer and give you more satisfaction.
— IMPROVISE: You don't need the real thing. If you don't have money to spend on a granite backsplash for your kitchen turn to peel-and-stick wall tiles. Not sure if you want to invest in a carpet? An area rug could cost less and accomplish the same thing.
— REPURPOSE PIECES. Shop in flea markets and even your mother's attic to find pieces that could be reinvented as useful home decor items. And think beyond the original purpose: WSL's Corlett said that old sewing machines or leather-trimmed luggage can be used as tables.
— CHECK OUT FINANCING DEALS: If you're strapped and need to stagger payments, instead of charging all at once on your credit card, check out financing deals from various retailers.
Most furniture stores have some kind of interest-free financing deal going most of the time. Just remember to keep up with the monthly payments or else you will wind up paying heavy-duty interest and sometimes extra fees.
— WHEN IN DOUBT, PAINT: Often, just a fresh coat of paint will make all the difference in a room.
"Painting is one of the affordable ways to change the decor," Corlett said.