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Your Home: 100 ideas under $100

Designer tricks for the bedroom

Architects and interiors specialists share their secret sources, strategies for clever styling, organizing tips, and other home updates you can do yourself.

By Marni Elyse Katz and Deblina Chakraborty
Marni Elyse Katz And Deblina Chakraborty / June 12, 2009
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Warm your welcome Disguise hollow-core doors by wallpapering them in a floral or strong graphic. If you're crafty (and thrifty), use wallpaper samples to make a collage. Wooden doors with panels are just as easily dressed up. Erin Gates of Element Interiors in Jamaica Plain used grass-cloth paper on her own home's paneled doors to add texture and conceal dings.

Put the kids to work Don't quell your children's artistic inclinations by confining doodling to paper. Buy a couple of large canvases or section off a portion of a wall with molding and let the kids loose with a predetermined palette and a bunch of brushes. It's a fun birthday treat that's less expensive than hiring a magician -- or a mural artist, for that matter.

Letter rip Alphabets make charming wall accents, especially when repurposed from unexpected sources. Gary Knell of Studio FKIA in South Boston isolated the "E" from an old sign advertising "TIRES." ABCs are aplenty on the flea-market scene; they look adorable mixed and matched to make a name. For a more uniform approach, letters are sold in a variety of colors and materials at craft stores, Urban Outfitters, and at Pottery Barn Kids. Pottery Barn Kids, Natick Collection, 508-653-4675, and other locations; http://potterybarnkids.com

Affix it Skipping a headboard is an easy way to save big, but your wall needn't be bare. Decals in creative silhouettes are new to the market, and there's a huge selection sold online (search for "headboard decals"; prices range from $40 to $60 for these large decals). From delicate to graphic to soaring Gothic arches, you can affix this finishing touch to your wall in minutes. When you tire of it, peel it off.

Park their toys Tired of stepping on your child's endless supply of Matchbox cars? North Reading designer Mark Christofi put a client's collection to work -- as decoration -- by hanging picture rails across a wall in the bedroom to hold the cars. Thin ledges are ideal for displaying other collections, too, like the tiny windup toys you keep stepping on in the dark. Crate & Barrel sells a 3-foot ledge similar to the one pictured above for $19.95. Crate & Barrel, 777 Boylston Street, Boston, 617-262-8700, and other locations; http://crateandbarrel.com

Go on stripe The curtains on the cover (they're in Susan Sargent's Beacon Hill home) are a Robert Allen silk with a woven-in ribbon band, but you can get the same effect by sewing ribbon to sheer curtains, she says. Just pin them on in even increments and sew right down the middle of the ribbons.

Hang it up Vintage maps do a lot of decorating -- and often for a small investment. Walpole designer Kelly McGuill, who incorporates vintage finds into up-to-date interiors, bought the one pictured here in a client's home at Brimfield for $5. Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Shows, Brimfield; this year's remaining shows will be held July 14-19 and September 8-13

Nix the night stand Matching night stands are so last century. Try a stepladder on one side (it frees up room in your broom closet) and a vintage chair on the other. A stack of luggage could hint at your worldliness and would be perfect for storing off-season sweaters. "Were you a band geek?" asks Roslindale Apartment528 (http://blog.apt528.com/) blogger India Halcrombe. "Use your old music stand as a night table. It's even adjustable."

redo the doors Painter and designer Danika Herrick divulges her favorite fix for unsightly closet doors: Swap them out. Old shutters can work, she says, or salvage French doors or shoji screens, as pictured at left. Trim the new doors to fit or extend with metal mending plates, remove the hardware from existing doors, attach to the new ones, and hang. "There's a lot of math," she says, "but it's actually very simple to do."

Get growing Especially with a quiet palette, a climbing plant offers a punch of color that's not overwhelming. If your bedroom gets plenty of sunlight, says designer Gary Knell, plant passion flower in a pot with a trellis and let it climb.

Embrace the girly Interior designer Fernanda Bourlot of Simplemente Blanco in Boston says you can achieve a "fresh, ethereal feeling" with a pared-down palette, low lighting, and a simple swath of muslin over a bed. But when it comes to designing for little girls, try a canopy of airy mosquito netting (you can find one at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $30) and a string or two of twinkle lights to create a dreamy wonderland. Bed, Bath & Beyond, 401 Park Drive, Boston, 617-536-1090, and other locations; http://bedbathandbeyond.com

Case the joint Take a cue from artist (and Pez collector) David Clancy, who turned an old drawer into a display case. Clancy cut thin pieces of wood for the shelves and made what is essentially a picture frame for the door -- he had glass cut for the front. "I hinged that to the drawer and glued a Pez dispenser to the door for a handle," he says.

Glaze it You don't have to repaint entirely for a whole new look. Here's how Natick decorative painter Monica Erickson creates an effect she likens to crushed velvet. Choose Behr's Faux Glaze paint in a color that is slightly darker than the walls. (It's sold at Home Depot, and a small room requires only about 6 ounces, so take advantage of sample jars.) Before painting, thoroughly clean walls. Mix three parts glaze with one part plain latex paint in the same color, then add water until it's the consistency of cream. Bunch up an old T-shirt, dip it in the glaze, and start dabbing, shifting the cloth to create random splotches. Home Depot, 339 Speen Street, Natick, 508-647-9600, and other locations; http://homedepot.com