Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor
With the crisp fall air comes a natural desire to cozy up at home with warm drinks, fluffy throws and the glow of candles. It's also a time of year when you might want to entertain more. By making a few smart purchases and, if you're feeling crafty, doing a project or two, you can perk up your home and stay within your budget. From elegant art walls to creative ways with paint, here are a dozen ways to spruce up your nest this fall.
1. Give your dresser a DIY makeover. This glamorous dresser looks like a custom piece, when in fact it's from (drum roll, please) Ikea. A set of stick-on Greek-key-patterned overlays and a steady hand are all you need to transform a plain white dresser into a focal point like this one. Instead of overlays, you could also use a stencil to paint on the pattern with gold paint.
2. Make a fancy art wall with flea market finds. Boxes filled with loose sheets of architectural and botanical drawings are a common find in flea market stalls, and often the individual sheets can be had for a dollar or so per piece.
Scoop up enough to fill a grid of frames -- four, six, or eight would make a good set. Next, look around for vintage frames of the same size and style at a good price, and pick up enough to frame all of your artwork.
If you don't like the color of the frames, you can always spray paint them gold or black. Hang the frames in a neat grid for an elegant look.
3. Craft a few 3D objects for an eclectic gallery wall. Including a few nonframed objects in a gallery wall is a great way to add flair. Customize a small wood slice from the craft store by painting on a message with black paint (or even marker). Practice your handwriting on paper first, then write the message with pencil on the wood and go over it with paint or permanent marker.
Another fun DIY craft is to make your own "arrows" by painting a pair of slender sticks and wrapping them with colorful string or yarn. Glue a few feathers to one end and hang them on the wall.
4. Treat your coffee table to new coasters. A cute new set of coasters, like the numbered ones shown here, is an inexpensive way to freshen up the coffee table. Or, if you knit or crochet, why not whip up your own set? It's a great way to use up those leftover bits of yarn in your stash.
5. Scour a used-book store for cool art books. New art books can cost a small fortune -- but used-book shops are crammed full of gorgeous old art books just waiting to be brought home and savored. Art, architecture and photography books are fun to flip through and look great in stacks and piles.
6. Have a friend take a family photo and put it on the mantel. If you can't hire a pro to take family photos, don't think that means you have to miss out entirely! Trade some baked goods or dinner out with a friend who takes great photos for an hour of family pictures.
Choose an outdoor location that will provide a pretty backdrop, like a local park or pick-your-own farm, and avoid midday, when the light is too harsh for photos.
7. Dig some treasures out of storage. Give your mantel a personal touch by bringing out a few old family photos and treasures to display. Anchor the arrangement with a large mirror and fill in the gaps with candles and vases.
8. Paint a kitchen wall with chalkboard paint. With all of that cabinetry, the kitchen usually doesn't have much blank wall space, making it ideal for doing a small painting project. For a sliver of wall, you need to buy only the tiniest can of chalkboard paint. Use the chalkboard wall to keep a running grocery list, make meal plans or simply write an inspiring quotation.
9. Stencil the breakfast-nook floor. Can you believe the floors shown here are stenciled? Stencils have come a long way in recent years, and while it is a labor-intensive project, you can get good results if you are willing to put in the time. Try stenciling the floor in a very small room or nook for a manageable project.
10. Bring in new houseplants. Fresh, living houseplants can do so much for a space. They bring in oxygen and add life, texture and sculptural shapes. Try that decorator favorite, the fiddle leaf fig, in a big basket cachepot, succulents in a terrarium and small potted plants on a console table.
11. Paint your bedroom a rich color. A can of paint is not a major investment, but changing the wall color of a room can have a huge impact. This fall try a rich blue-gray in the bedroom for an opulent look.
12. Toss a fake-fur throw on the couch. On a chilly day, just the sight of a thick, plush fake-fur blanket is enough to warm the heart -- and cuddling under it will certainly warm your toes! A good one is not cheap, but it will last for many years and never go out of style.