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Ways to Improve Your Home for Less

Your house says a lot about who you are.

Your house says a lot about who you are. It's the biggest purchase most of us will make in our lifetimes, and its value is much more than merely financial; we invest a lot of emotion, time and effort into our homes, as well as money into necessities like home insurance. A lot of homeowners would like to improve their property but unfortunately they're put off by the cost and effort involved, and few things can be more disheartening than being dissatisfied with the place you live in.

Major alterations to a house should not be undertaken lightly, and you should always contact an expert if you're unsure how to go about a particular job. Some sobering statistics from Santander tell us that more than 4 million DIY home improvement tasks "went wrong" in during 2011, leaving homeowners out of pocket. If you're desperate for a change but need some time to save up in order to have a large job done properly, here are a few quick, simple and cheap home improvement tips.

Focal points

If the rooms in your home lack character, try to give each one a focal point. Study the room and see what features in it naturally draw the eye. If a room has a chimney breast in it, for example, consider buying a cheap reclaimed fire surround and fitting it. It doesn't have to be used as a working fireplace, and with a little bit of polish and some elbow grease you can change the look of your room completely. If a room has large windows, try to make the most of the light - and the view - by moving furniture around and swapping curtains for unobtrusive blinds. Remember - the focal point of a room does not necessarily have to be a television.

Patterned wallpaper

If a room seems dull, perk it up by hanging some new wallpaper. You don't need to do the entire room; find patterned wallpaper which matches the room's colour and apply it to one wall. This can break up monotonous interior decoration and shouldn't take more than a day to achieve. By adding some visual interest to the walls you can afford to de-clutter in the room itself; remove ornaments which take up shelf-space and consider taking down photographs unless they have particular emotional meaning.

Simple colour co-ordination

It can be easy to fall into the trap of decorating each room in the same neutral colours. Don't be afraid to experiment with dominant colour themes in rooms if you think they look a little boring. Pick a colour which you think fits the room and re-cover cushions in that shade, or even repaint shelving units. This will give the room a cohesive look without requiring a complete redecoration.

Invest in art

If your walls are blank, why not hang some art? While original artworks by famous artists might be out of your price range, a relatively inexpensive print in a simple wooden frame can look very impressive. Remember, if you do have a piece of expensive art then you should make sure it is covered for loss and damage with contents insurance. Many galleries and museums sell high-quality prints of their exhibits in gift-shops and online, so you can pick up a reproduction of a personal favourite. You can also visit local art fairs and find something by an as yet undiscovered talent for not very much at all - and it makes for a fun afternoon out. Art appreciation doesn't need to break the bank, and with a little work you should be able to find something that fits your home decor and reflects your tastes.

Flowers

Simple, old fashioned, and reliable, a vase of cut flowers is a cheap and very cheerful way of bringing a room to life. Find flowers which match your accent colours and you'll soon have your house looking like it belongs in the pages of a glossy property magazine. And they also mean you can unplug your plug-in air-freshener - the natural perfume of flowers is a much more pleasant alternative.