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What can I do to freshen up my living room or family room without spending a fortune? This is a question that I get dozens of times each week from readers, viewers and friends. Everyone is tired of winter and looking for quick decorating pick-me-ups.

Start with color. You don’t have to paint an entire room, unless it truly needs it. I painted my interior doors black, and it is a wonderful, dramatic change throughout the entire house.

Why not add color to the back of your bookcases, just one wall or even your doors? Carry that same color throughout the room with flowers, throw pillows or an affordable ceramic garden stool. I’m seeing these colorful stools just about everywhere for less than $100. They also make great accent tables and can be used in living rooms, bathrooms and even outdoors. After all, they are “garden” stools.

Have a few extra dollars to spend? Consider purchasing a new occasional chair — one of the best furniture investments you can make. They are affordable and come in a variety of patterns, colors and textures. And even better, they are available as cash-and-carry items in almost any furniture store. You don’t have to wait four to eight weeks for a special order. CR Laine has a new collection of citrus-colored chairs that would make it easy to brighten any decor.

If neutral is more your style, the Penelope chair from Jessica Charles might be the right choice for you. The abstract print works in contemporary settings. It’s easy to mix the print with bold solid colors to freshen a room from season to season.

Time to address the flooring in your rooms. A trick our grandmothers used still works today. They rolled up their heavy, dark area rugs and replaced them with lighter-weight cotton rag rugs. Other times they might leave the floors bare.

I am drawn to woven grass and sisal rugs. They can quickly change a room’s look from winter to summer style. You can find these rugs at home stores for less than $150 to $200. If this is pushing your budget, pick up a less expensive synthetic indoor/outdoor rug for half the cost.

Clear out the clutter. The most affordable decorating improvement you can make is to get rid of stacks of old magazines, afghans, scatter rugs, dusty half-burned candles, artificial flowers (this includes the fake ivy over your kitchen cabinets) and any other unnecessary items piled up around your house.

Clear off the fireplace mantel and replace mismatched picture frames, tarnished candlesticks and figurines with just one impressive painting or a pair of black-and-white photographs. Consolidate your bookshelf clutter into matching baskets that fit nicely onto the shelves.

Make fresh flowers the finishing touch. There’s not a room in the house that won’t benefit from having a beautiful glass vase filled with fresh flowers. While you’re at it, don’t forget to wash your windows so all that much-longed-for sunshine can brighten your home and your spirits.

Designer and home improvement expert Vicki Payne is host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in national and international syndication. Reach her at ForYourHome.com.

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