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Originally published Friday, May 17, 2013 at 8:04 PM

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Designs to freshen interior

Low-cost ways to create a whole new look.

Special to The Seattle Times

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HomeWork

Q. What are low-cost ways to redecorate my home?

A. If the interior of your home is feeling a bit drab or out of date, you don’t need to make major changes to create a whole new look.

• In the kitchen: If the cabinets, countertops and appliances are still in good shape, save money by replacing the backsplash tile. Adding a colorful or light-reflecting tile will create interest and refresh the look of your countertops and cabinets.

Another small change that can have a big impact is replacing your cabinet pulls. You could also update door knobs, towel bars and other home hardware.

Throw a coordinating, washable accent rug on the floor in front of the sink for another punch of color.

• Lighting fixtures: You can bring new life to any room by replacing older surface-mounted lighting fixtures with new fixtures that can also lower your energy costs. Many recessed light fixtures have trims than can either be repainted or replaced economically. Another inexpensive and fun way to brighten a room is to replace old light switches and outlet cover plates.

• Dramatic touches: A deep color is an extremely effective way to dramatically change a room. Darker colors create drama. Dark walls paired with lighter furniture and sheers for drapes can bring elegance and intensity to a dining room or living room.

To keep the room from looking small, add a few funky mirrors. A mirror will do double duty by adding both art and depth. Putting a mirror on the wall opposite a window can make a room look twice as big. Check out secondhand stores and garage sales for interesting and unusual mirrors, and don’t be afraid to combine modern and antique styles for added interest.

• Rearrange the pieces: Use what you have in a new way. Instead of tossing out that old, worn chair, turn it into an accent piece by having it recovered in a bright, interesting fabric.

Another great trick is to pick just one or two accent colors to use in a room, keeping everything else neutral. Just five items in the same color will transform a room; a rug on the floor plus a few pillows a bit higher plus a tall lamp and perhaps a piece of art on the wall will round out and coordinate your space from floor to ceiling.

• Add graphic interest. Perhaps you’ve redone that old chair with a strong, graphic print. Or try a bold, graphic rug. You will be surprised how much a bold new rug changes the look of a room even with the same furniture and wall art.

And speaking of wall art, don’t be afraid to get creative. Hang plates in unexpected colors to make a fresh wall arrangement. Put the most dramatic plate toward the center.

Another nifty trick is to collect interesting old picture frames and make an arrangement of those empty frames on a wall. Go for an interesting variety of shapes and sizes.

If you like being crafty, take mittens missing their mates and glue them to a colorful felt background. Let them dry and then frame and hang on a wall. For a hallway or mudroom these are happy reminders of fun family times.

Simple changes really can make a big difference. They key is to have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Jon W. Simpson, CGP owner of JWS Design, Inc, is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council and provided the information contained in this article. If you would like more information or have questions about home improvement send them to homework@mbaks.com. Sorry no personal replies.

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