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How To Update Your Décor with Paint, for Just Pennies!
by Kathleen Wilson

Description: Tips for updating your home decor with paint.

One of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective ways to update your décor is to paint. Nowadays, however, there are many paint techniques available to the do it yourselfer, and as many products expensive pitched to you that are usually unnecessary! Here are some great tips to update nearly any surface, on a budget.

First things first. Preparation. Nasty word, I know, but it makes all the difference! Except for unfinished surfaces, you first want to clean the surface. I prefer TSP, which is a substance you can find in any hardware store or paint section. Follow directions. Let dry thoroughly, then lightly sand. I recommend priming most surfaces, except walls. ( Hint: You can paint laminate surfaces, even countertops and floors! The trick is to use a primer made for non porous surfaces such as BIN or KILZ. Let dry thoroughly between coats, then remember to topcoat with polyurethane…I like 4-6 coats of water based polyurethane for high use areas.) For wall painting, use painters tape to mask off ceiling, trim, and windows.

Now that you are all primed and ready, here are three of my favorite easy, inexpensive paint treatments. These can be used on walls or furniture, and several techniques can be combined to create a very custom look!


Colorwashing is a lot of fun. It is a wonderful finish that creates a lot of depth and texture, and is a quite popular paint finish in luxury homes. It is simply a method where you add water to a paint or paint base, then rub over the walls with a damp rag, similiar in technique to washing the wall. That simple! I have mixed my own paints for this, but it can be difficult to get the colors and ratios right. If you want to try a product made specifically for colorwashing, give a try. I've used their products, and they go a long way with beautiful colors. If you want to try to mix your own, start out with a 75% paint, 25% water mix, then try it on a practice board. You can increase the water up to 50/50 if you like the effect.


Sponging is perhaps the easiest faux technique to master. It takes very little paint, just a touch of practice, and looks great in nearly any style home! I prefer to sponge one color over another base coat for a more subtle look, but you can sponge over white if you prefer. You don't have to use those expensive sea sponges, either. Just rip and tear an ordinary kitchen sponge to create an irregular surface. Dip into paint, dab off so that it is almost dry, and pat onto the wall. Vary the direction of the sponge as you go to create a more natural look. You may wish to practice a little on cardboard first to test your technique.

Stamp or Stencil

Stamps or stencils can be used to accent, border, or provide an overall design similar to wallpaper. They are very inexpensive, or simple ones can be made at home with lightweight cardboard (cereal boxes work great) and a craft knife. Stamps can be made the old fashioned way, with a potato! To stencil, simply tape the stencil in place, then pounce the paint over the stencil with a nearly dry brush, rag, or sponge. To stamp, brush a small amount of paint onto the stamp, dab off , then stamp onto the wall. There is a great ebook on stamping available with the “Awaken Your Interior Designer”, and it’s free with purchase of the ebook series! Click here to check out this highly recommended ebook.

Alright then, let’s get to work! Paint can transform a room in an afternoon like no other decorating tool. Don’t be afraid to take the brush to cabinets, tables, even the entertainment center. You could even stamp paint onto pillows and slipcovers! Use your imaginations, stick to your color scheme and theme, and watch your rooms bloom before your eyes!

Kathleen Wilson is an author, national columnist, and editor of The Budget Decorator ezine. More free ideas, inspiration, and a free subscription to her newsletter can be found at

Related articles:

Painting and Decorating Tile
Popular Faux Painting Techniques Explained
Painting Kitchen Countertops

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