by Yuwanda Black
"I wish I could afford to spruce this place up before the holidays." If this is your sentiment and your budget is tight, here are four things you can do immediately to make your home sparkle for the holidays.
Paint: There is nothing like a coat of paint to make walls, baseboards and window sills appear shiny clean and new. Even if you don't have the time or energy to do a whole room — spot paint. Hit the most highly trafficked areas and/or those that don't receive a cleaning every week. These are usually around baseboards, light switches, door handles, windowsills, etc. You'll be amazed at how new and clean everything looks.
Flowers: Go silk! Silk flowers not only add color and fanciful flair to a room, they also don't need watering, adding pizzazz throughout the whole season. They can usually be found cheaply in arts and crafts stores in brilliant colors. Go to yard sales and your local Salvation Army to find a pretty, affordable vase. Put them on the dining room table, in bookcases, on the back of the toilet, in a windowsill — their uses are endless. Your guests will admire your beautiful, stylish touch.
Mirrors: This time of year, you're likely bringing in more stuff than you're taking out. This can cause your space to look small, stuffy and cramped. A few strategically placed mirrors will open it right back up. A full-length mirror in the bathroom and oversized ones in the living room and kitchen — all highly trafficked areas that need opening up — keep your home light and airy.
Try to place mirrors opposite areas that you really love to bring the effect "inside or closer" to you. For example, in my living room near a large window, I have a lot of plants. I refer to it as my Garden of Eden. My desk and working area are opposite this window. I placed a mirror in my desk area facing the plants. When I look up, the plants are reflected in the mirror, making it appear as if the garden is beside me, instead of across the room.
Decorate early: The season is here and gone before you know it. Instead of waiting until the last minute, put out your favorite holiday items now (eg, stockings, pumpkins, wreaths, etc.) and save the biggies (tree, lights) for last.
Make a Grand Entrance of your Front Door
Mention outdoor lighting at this time of year and many people think of strings of lights. But why not go for a more elegant look that will continue to be appealing throughout the winter ahead?