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gimme some style! where to go for decorating inspiration
by Yee-Fan Sun
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Still, one of my biggest peeves with many decorating magazines, TV shows, and websites is that they only feature homes created by professional interior decorators. Yeah, the pros can do some amazing things, but let’s face it: the $1000 makeover these folks tout as budget is pretty far out of the reach of many of us in the quasi-adult years. Moreover, pros can get insider deals on both material and labor, which regular peeps like you and me generally can’t access. Frankly, professional makeovers always seem a little bit like cheating to me.

Fortunately, the web is chock full of ordinary people sharing photos of their very own, non-professionally-decorated pads. One of my favorite places to get a peek at these real-life homes, then, is craftster.org’s interior decorating projects forum. Here you’ll see big spaces and little spaces; bedrooms in the parental abode and homeowner’s new nests; punk styles and country styles; minimalist chic and kitschy sumptuous splendor. The results range from ho-hum to downright genius; what’s nice about all the spaces, though, is that they’re lovingly created by the folks who live there, and generally on very modest budgets.

And of course, don’t forget to check out the Open House gallery at Digs itself. Featuring real-life homes from actual Digs readers, it’s a great way to see how other quasi-adults are solving typical decorating dilemmas like small spaces, itty-bitty bank accounts, rental restrictions, and figuring out a sense of personal style.

at newstands now
When your eyes start glazing over from staring at that computer screen for hours on end, head to the nearest bookstore behemoth instead. Books are nice for flipping through at the store, but if you’re looking to buy, you can get a whole lot more image for your money by heading to the magazine section. Skip over crusty-fusty design mags like Architectural Digest and Mom-geared glossies like Better Homes & Gardens; these days, hip, DIY-centered, budget-oriented magazines are popping up all the time (sadly, they tend to go under just as quickly, so if you find a publication you like, buy every issue that comes out while you can). One of the best is ReadyMade, which features ridiculously clever, crafty home projects and a refreshingly gender-neutral (i.e., non-girly) take on home décor. Domino is also good for a browse; while it’s a little more consumer-centric (not necessarily a bad thing, as it can be helpful knowing where to buy the goods you see in a picture) and ideas occasionally a tad pricey by my cheap-o standards, it tends to feature fun, funky homes chock full of personality.

Of course, nothing beats seeing a fab pad in person -- which is why your friends and other associates might just end up being your best decorating muses. Start keeping an eye out when you’re visiting your pal’s pads; never turn down an invitation to pop over to some new acquaintance’s home. Meanwhile, when you see something you like – a chair, some artwork, a gorgeous paint color – don’t hesitate to ask about it. The idea isn’t to single-white-female your friend with the stylin’ apartment by buying the exact same items for your home – nobody likes a copycat, and really, you want your place to be uniquely you in the end, right? But friends with naturally great taste can point you to their favorite shops, online stores, and other resources, providing insider tips on where to score the best deals and find neat goodies. Meanwhile, crafty buddies can give you the scoop on how to tackle those DIY projects you so admire, but can’t quite figure out how to do yourself.

With a little help from your friends, plus some inspiration from outside sources, you’ll be well on your way to an amazing pad of your own.


check out these related articles:
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get started decorating | style & stylishness | variations on a theme | travel-inspired decorating

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