Murals on walls (above) or using molding on walls and new frames on pictures and mirrors (below) are ways Michael Christel has provided new looks to rooms for very little money. He finds many decorating items at estate sales.

he says. “Make sure your trim is white or cream and use light furnishings. That would offset the smallness of the room.”

Be careful about color swatches, however. What appears to be conservative on a tiny piece of paper can be overwhelming on a wall. Try it out on a board, or for the courageous, just go for it. You can always paint over it later.

Multi-color affects

On the other hand, he says, try using multi-colors. Things like marbling or sponging and finish them off with a wash of diluted paint. Michael likes water-based paint which, he thinks, seems to hold up as good as oil-based.

Michael has had success with animal prints on his walls at home, since he chose a safari theme for his interior. Often, textured paint ends up looking much like wallpaper but is cheaper, easier and allows for more creativity.

Michael achieves his animal print effect by dabbing the print on the wall with different brushes.

“I usually use older brushes that I don’t mind throwing away when I’m done,” he says. “Usually about three different colors.”

He follows that with a wash to mute the effect “so it doesn’t look spotty.”

That’s not to say he hasn’t had any flops. Take one particular project, for instance.

Michael had envisioned the look of old-fashioned wallpaper with greens and gold specks, among other colors. The problem came when he added the red.

“I kind of blobbed it in, too, and it looked like a chicken got killed in my

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living room and the blood spattered all over the walls,” he says.

But all was not lost.

Michael waited until it was dry and gave it a wash of water-thinned paint.

“It looked beautiful,” he said.

Sometimes what first appears to be a failure ends up as the most elegant work. For walls with cracks, Michael recommends texture, and he prefers paper drywall tape over nylon.

“That has always held up better for me,” he says. “The cracks never come back.”

He begins by digging the cracks out a little and filling them with drywall compound, then covering that with tape.

“You can add texture to the wall with drywall compound thinned a little with water,” he says. “Dab it with a tool.”

With the wide choice of tools and designs, the possibilities are endless.

Most can do it themselves

Although some people may opt to call for a professional with a certain amount of know-how—and courage—most people can do it themselves. Even the inexperienced can do it with a little help.

“I would even be happy to tell them how to do it,” says Michael, “because it’s really not that difficult.”

Another idea for the artistically inclined is wall murals. Michael has a savannah scene painted in his bathroom. He got the idea from a picture he owns of zebras at a watering hole, which hangs in the middle of his mural.

For those not as skilled with the brush,

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