$330 Summer Decorating Makeover in a Day

It was a perfect summer decorating project, but we just had one day to get it done. An attic full of potential, full of light and — filth. There were the two of us, tough women, sleeves rolled up, hairs in a bun. And there were the kids downstairs – emergency reinforcements. So we decided to do it. A $330 summer decorating makeover in a day. Here’s how it played out.

$10 clean up

We got out the brooms from the garage and stuffed big black garbage bags full of fallen plaster, dust, old wallpaper and plenty of other rubbish that collected in the attic over the years. With no furniture to move except an old arm chair that had definitely seen better days, the job was harder on our sinuses than our backs. But as the clouds of dust gradually subsisted, we finished with a good sweep and finally declared the room ready for our summer decorating makeover.

$100 for the walls

The attic walls were made of rough plaster. To retain the beauty of the texture but conceal the damp stains and mildew, we painted the walls in water-based primer ($50 for a big bucket). Next, we used a sea sponge to dab on two shades of flat latex paint, green and blue ($25 each). The combination gave our summer decorating makeover the look of a sun-dappled pond. Luckily my friend had rollers and painting trays at home, which saved us a little money on our makeover budget.

$110 sheer curtain treatments

To save money on curtain rods, we mounted wooden poles on decorative wood shelf brackets over the two large attic windows ($45). Then we purchased sheer purple fabric with green dragonfly embroidery ($65), and we hemmed it all around and slipped the curtain pole through the top hem. Suddenly our summer decorating makeover really started to take shape.

$50 area rug

When we drove downtown to grab a sandwich, we saw a boy standing on the street corner like a billboard, announcing a carpet warehouse closeout. Pretty soon we were haggling for a perfect, deep blue rug with dimensions that would fit our attic perfectly. We got the rug for an amazing $50, and when we spread it on the worn wood floor of the attic we knew that our summer decorating makeover was going to be something special.

$30 wood cases

The room was going to be a writer’s retreat, so we needed bookcases and lots of them. I had an idea. My husband loved apple juice, and we used to buy fresh pressed juice from local farmers. We drove to their store and asked if we could buy apple cases. We bought as many as we could tie to the roof of my car. Once in the attic, we spread the wood case through the room, some upside down, like little tables, some right side up, stuffed with books. Suddenly, the scent of cedar filled our summer decor.

$15 my surprise

I gave the kids downstairs some duct tape and the remaining black plastic bags to coat the old armchair with. It was so dust covered from years of age, there was no point cleaning it. When the kids finished coating the chair, they were supposed to cover it with a red slipcover I had found on Overstock.com for $15 (a 75% discount because it was the last of its kind). By the time we were finishing with the wood cases, the kids brought in the refurbished red armchair. It rustled a little like a cereal bag, but it was charming.

$0 giant pillows

Hunting for old blankets in my friend’s closet, we found a few in beautiful blue shades. This, together with the pillows my friend always saved through the years, was perfect for making new decorative pillows for her writer’s retreat. We covered the old pillows with the blankets, cut the blankets down to size, then sewed them into pillowcases that coated the old pillows perfectly. We tossed the giant pillows on the floor, for reading on the cushy blue area rug that looked like a lagoon.

$15 giant Japanese lantern

It’s a good thing 16 year-olds can drive. While we put the finishing touches to the pillows, my friend’s son came in with a giant Japanese lantern we had sent him to buy for the bare light bulb on the ceiling. The sun was setting past the sheer purple curtains as we hung the white ball of a lantern. An hour later, we were all lying on the dark carpet; while, in the sky, the moon peeked at our lantern, winking its seal of approval on our $330 summer decorating makeover which we had, indeed, completed in a day.

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