Where You Start

from Decorating
When you're starting out, home decor doesn't have to be expensive or risky. Try these easy ideas to create ambience without committing to new furniture.

SCENARIO: You moved into a larger house with your first real dining room (bye-bye eat-in kitchen), but you don't have the bona fide furniture or the budget to fill it right away. Still, you want to entertain friends with a modicum of style while you settle into the house and think about what furnishings and feeling you'd like to have in the room.

TACTIC: Evoke a French bistro style. Utilize basic dinnerware from your bridal registry, pieces of furniture you already have, and a bevy of affordable accessories.

COMMITMENT: Low. You ve kept colors neutral, style simple, costs minimal.

Go Basic

Put what you already have into play, using whites and blacks for bistro style. Buy accessories you can layer or use in different ways when you settle on your style.

Table Triage
W ell, they're not pretty, but when a dining room is empty, a folding table and chairs are quick and cheap. When you buy real furniture, they can be used for parties on the deck and holiday gatherings, so money is not wasted.

Great Lengths
Square white tablecloths are inexpensive and versatile for the future, especially since you don't know the size of your dream table. Place a square at each end, then angle a third square in the middle to cover the gap and voila, bistro style in a bare room.

Places in Time
Compose compelling place settings so guests focus on food and conversation, not the empty room. Put your wedding registry dishes and basic stemware alongside Grandma's love-it-forever flatware. Classics commingle with margarita glass votive holders and $2 curtain ring clips used as napkin/place card holders.

Blooming Bottles
Use a half dozen empty soda bottles to spread one bunch of blooms into a big arrangement for just a few bucks.

Smart Art
Photography is affordable art, especially when outlined with wide white mats and black frames. Choose meaningful subjects to personalize the space travel photos, nature images, and still lifes. Later, you can move the art to a powder room or guest room.

Rack 'Em Up
Use that wooden wine rack you bought for your first apartment in the 1990s as a buffet or bar. Make it part of a wall composition with artwork, a platter on a stand, and an ice bucket for chilling wine.

More On Topic

Eliminate the guess work and see what your house will look like before you redecorate.
• Bedroom Decorating
• Decorating Exteriors
• Decorating Ideas
• Bathroom Decorating Styles
• Holiday Decorating Planner
• Weekend Decorating
• Decorating

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