There are a thousand things you can do to make your room into what you want it to be—and most of them cost very little money. Here are a few ideas with which to begin. (Incidentally, if you have some good ideas already in use or if you think some up, send us pictures of your room or a description of your idea, and we’ll pass it along to the rest of our worldwide readers.)
1. Color, in the form of paint and inexpensive wallpaper borders, is probably your best decorating buy, especially if you consider the amount of impact or change in a room per dollar.
2. If your walls are not in good enough condition to accept a paint job, try covering them with burlap, old barn boards, ticking, or textured wallpaper.
3. If you have jogs, doors, or closets that break up your small room, cover them with the same material as is on your walls, whether it is paint, paper, or brightly colored fabric. This is particularly good if you are plagued with off-center doors or closets that tend to destroy balance in a room.
4. If your closet is dark or if you are making a closet into a study area, paint or wallpaper it in the brightest colors you can find, and see how it adds an element of cheer to your room.
5. Puzzled as to what to do with the fireplace when you’re not using it? Try putting bouquets of fresh flowers, green leaves, or even dried wild flowers or autumn leaves in it.
6. If you are at a loss for something to hang on the wall, try framing a piece of attractive fabric or wallpaper. Your favorite books, record album covers, and photographs can add your personal touch, in addition to making a new strange room feel more like home.
7. If your wood floors are worn and in bad shape, try staining them a dark color or painting them with a bright enamel. Then cover this new floor with a durable plastic finish available at your paint or hardware store.
8. Stenciled or silkscreened patterns applied to drawers, floors, or homemade furniture add color and interest to your room.
9. Separate your room visually while adding individuality and color by hanging rattan baskets in which are planted ivy or sprouted sweet potatoes.
10. Here are three nifty ideas if you share a room with someone else but would like your own private sleeping and study areas. (See illustrations.)
11. Need a table in your room or apartment? Brightly painted sawhorses and a slab door or piece of plywood fill the bill nicely and are convenient to move and store.
12. Besides being useful, a round table fits into a small area very well. Make one from a garbage can and one piece of plywood or from three pieces of plywood. It is best to have a lumberyard or cabinet shop saw the round cuts for you. Fasten the round piece of plywood to the inside of a garbage can lid. Then place the lid on the can upside down. Store canned goods, last semester’s books, or your year’s food supply items in the can.
13. Inexpensive cardboard file cabinets and a slab door make a fine desk/study area. If you can find used metal cabinets and paint them, so much the better.
14. Need a table you can use and then put away? Try one that folds against the wall when not in use. Hand paint or cover it with material to match wall or window treatment.
15. Every person needs shelves where he can store books, records, radio, clock, and a host of other paraphernalia. For a twist on the brick-and-board bookshelf idea, try painting the inside of decorative cinder blocks to match or contrast with the color of the shelves.
16. It is surprising how good simple utility shelves look when sanded and painted to match your decor. Look for them in secondhand shops and army-navy surplus stores.
17. Ladder sections fastened to the wall also make fine supports for shelves. If you can’t find pieces of a ladder, make your own with one-by-three-inch wood and one-inch dowels.
18. Simply constructed storage cubes can be as changeable as your needs. Measure the article you want to put in a cube, then build to that size. These units are probably the most adaptable shelves you can build.
19. Shelves hung on chains look good hanging against a wall or as a divider between two different functional areas in an apartment.
20. Even old orange crates or other ready-made boxes look good and can brighten up a room. The secret here is to use more than one and stack them in different ways.
21. One of the most versatile items you can have is a trunk. Any size or style will do, depending upon your needs. A trunk is a great place to store things and can be used at the same time as a table or stand. Add a cushion and you have a fine seat.