Decorating on a Dime

Men laying new hardwood flooring

Nonprofessional Winner

Tara and James Francis
make their powder room
guest-worthy for $624
Photography by Haigwood Studios

Since moving into their Cumming home four years ago, Tara and James Francis have been hard at work fixing up their living room, kitchen, laundry room and bedroom. Then, at their Halloween party last October, they realized that they had overlooked the one room every one of their guests sawthe downstairs powder room.

The room was really plain, James says. Tara agrees. It was the most boring room in the house, and its the one that everybody sees, she says. They started the room in January and worked on it bit by bit for several months. Knowing that we wanted to enter the contest helped keep us moving, Tara says. To save money, they did all the work themselves, just as they have with the other rooms in their home. We wouldnt be able to redo every room if we didnt do the work ourselves, Tara says.


The couple didnt have a budget in mind when they started the project, but they knew they wanted to keep it as inexpensive as possible while still making maximum- impact changes. Taras specialty is finding bargains, Jim says. They looked for items on sale at Lowes, and Tara found the faucet, towel bars and paper holder brand new on eBay for only $138. Everything in the room is new or updated except for the countertop, says James. He did all the woodwork, while Tara was in charge of the Venetian plaster on the walls, the curtains and the decorating.

In addition to saving money, both Tara and James get a lot of enjoyment out of doing the work themselves. Taras always had a mind for design, and were finally getting to put that to use, James says. Its also fun showing off their work to friends and family. People are always amazed when they see the woodwork that James does, says Tara. He almost gets a little insulted how surprised they are that hes good at it!
The couples next project is a nurserythey are expecting their first child, a girl, in October. After that, theyll start in on the basement, and once thats done, who knows? We wont have any rooms left, Tara says. We may have to move to a new house and start over!



Lumber and molding (Lowes) $260

Mirror (Lowes) $50

Light fixture (Lowes) $80

Light and outlet plates (Lowes) $10

Paint and Venetian plaster (Lowes) $50

Four cabinet pulls at $4 each (Target) $16

Faucet, towel bars, paper holder
(eBay) $138

Fabric (Lewis and Sheron) $20

TOTAL $624

Honorable Mention

Tina Hicks,
living room,

When teacher Trina Hicks first moved into her College Park house in 2003, it was the large, open home she had been dreaming of. She spent the next two years saving up the money she would need to create a comfy, cozy living room to complete it. The walls were stark white, and her brown sofa, matching chair and leather recliner were swallowed up by the big space. Trina loves warm, relaxing earth tones, so she decided first to paint the room. Next, she bought more furniturea coffee table set with matching end tables and two bear lamps, along with a cow-print rug and a large round mirror. She used a faux-finishing technique on the walls in the bar area and a corner of the living room. To finish off her hip, ethnic retreat, she added some African art.




Ralph Lauren paint (The Home Depot) $50

Rug ( $385

Coffee table set (Ashley Furniture) $125

Bear lamps (Ashley Furniture) $50

Barstool (Target) $80

Larger round mirror
(Eclectic Furniture) $250

African masks (Marshalls) $20

Round rattan ottoman
(Cost Plus World Market) $35

TOTAL $995

Honorable Mention

Maria Tonelli and
Nick Reynolds,

Redecorating the kitchen was the first project Maria Tonelli and her husband, Nick Reynolds, tackled after moving into their Kennesaw home. When they moved in, it had blue flooring and plain wood cabinets. They decorated the backsplash with sandstone tile and scattered Mexican and seashell tiles. They painted the floor and countertop to mimic a rustic concrete look, and replaced the dishwasher. They also added three glass doors and painted the cabinets a buttery-linen color. After installing lights under the cabinet, they stepped back and saw that they finally had the kitchen they had envisioned.




Kenmore stainless/black dishwasher
(Sears Outlet Center) $350

Stainless stove hood (Sears) $80

Stainless microwave ( $70

Eight under-counter lights
(The Home Depot) $20

Two boxes of tiles at 39?? each, along with tile adhesive, grout, and grout sealer
(Floor & Decor) $100

Porch and patio paint, Kilz, wood, glass
for the cabinet doors, other supplies
(The Home Depot) $100

TOTAL $720

Professional Winner

Debbie Trammell Huckeba,
Irresistible Interiors, dining room

Debbie Trammell Huckeba of Irresistible Interiors and her husband, Reid, bought their 17-year-old house in Marietta last year shortly after their May wedding. The house had everything the couple wanted, and they could see beyond the existing old wallpaper and window treatments. Over the past year, they have taken the house room by room, doing most of the work themselves. In the dining room, they stripped the dated floral wallpaper and painted the walls a warm pumpkin color. They already had the furniture, and to make the windows more appealing they installed matchstick blinds. They bought new draperies and, for the finishing touch, added bold accessories. They moved into the house in September and had it finished in time to invite family for Thanksgiving.


AFTERPhotography by Gregg Willett


Draperies (JCPenney) $240

Blinds (Lowes) $80

Paint (Sherwin Williams) $30

Two wall sculptures at $100 each
(Home Goods) $200

Two palm plants at $13 each
(The Home Depot) $26

Pottery (Home Goods and
Old Time Pottery) $40

Pillow case for bench
(Linens N Things) $40

Blue and white pottery
(Garden Ridge) $60

Chandelier (Bombay Company) $100

TOTAL $816

Honorable Mention

Kristi Choate,
Harmony Interiors, office/library

Kristi Choate of Harmony Interiors in Kennesaw decided to tackle the living and dining area in the front of her home because its the first area guests see when they arrive. She wanted to create a warm, comfortable, lived-in look for the spacea look that set visitors at ease. She also decided to change the function of the space itself. I think homes should reflect how people live, and to have a formal living and dining room would not serve my family and me well. So she converted the space into an office and library. Now its not only functional but is a beautiful entry into the rest of the house.




Chocolate faux suede slipcover, throw pillows, and frames on the wall
(Target) $190

Two gallons of wall paint, Hasbrouck brown (Benjamin Moore Paints,
East Cobb Paint & Supply) $70

Four window treatment panels seconds from hotel drapery projects (Red Hen Fabrics/Marietta Drapery Co.) $75

Window treatment hardware
(Target) $120

12 yards of decorative tassel trim (Decorating Mart) $170

Rooster fabric (Kravet Fabrics) $120

Decorative accessories candlesticks, leather trunk, clock, planters
(Southern Antique Gallery) $110

Satchel and twig cones
(Flea Emporium) $45

Rooster platter and green leaf platter, fruit prints (Queen of Heart Antiques) $60

TOTAL $960

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