DIY Decor That Won’t Break the Bank!

Author: Alecia Pirulis


This guest post was written by Barbara Thompson Bailey. Here’s a little more about her:

Barbara Thompson-Bailey PicI have been with Apartment Finder in the Jacksonville, FL office for almost three years, working as the Customer Support/Admin. When I’m not busy creating original ORANGE marketing pieces, I’m usually involved in some sort of project at home. Up-cycling, decorating, re-purposing—crafting and designing. I am blessed to be married to a wonderful man (Keith) who puts up with all my ongoing creative projects! We have two great kids who are grown and live nearby, so until those grand-babies come along… we keep busy with our two FUR babies—Link-n and Frodo — our two rescued mini dachshunds.

 I enjoy the “treasure hunt” of finding castoffs or damaged pieces and reinventing them into something new and beautiful. So look out—if there’s a roadside pile or dumpster showing a diamond in the rough—I’ll be pulling over to rescue it!


I’ve always believed that you don’t need to have big bucks to make your home your “haven” with a fresh, inviting look.  Having been a single mom when my kids were young, I always found a way to make our home a place you wanted to come home to.  Fast forward 25 years, and I still love to decorate and RE-decorate my home with great finds—that don’t break my piggy bank!  Half the fun is finding a new purpose for items I already have—OR finding FREE items or very-low-cost items at Goodwill, Craigslist, thrift, and antique stores to freshen up my décor.

I’m happy to have you along as “this little piggy goes to market” with only some small change—but comes home with BIG ideas and transformations.  I’ll show you how I’ve transformed some of my “hand-me-downs” and “oldies but goodies” to create a fresh, new, updated look.  Ideas you can use in your own space!

Whether you’re just starting out in your  first “home” with freebies from family members or furniture from your college or teen years—or you have quality furniture that “just isn’t working” for you— you can totally transform it with a little magic!  Below is my before dresser… and the AFTER with magic applied!

BEFORE—even with new pulls—too rustic.

BEFORE—even with new pulls—too rustic.

After Dresser

AFTER the magic! Stylish and fresh!

Now I’m going to share with you this “magic” paint concept I found recently—and how I changed our old bedroom set from boring… to a stunning new set for less than $20! Yep—that’s right—a crisp little $20 + some easy steps—and voila! … You are a design Genius! What was the “magic?” CAULK PAINT! Well, “Faux Caulk Paint.” The original Caulk Paint is very expensive—over $30 a quart. But—I found a great “recipe” on line that makes the same “magic” happen! Super cheap—and easy, easy … did I say EASY?! All you need is a box of Plaster of Paris (found at home improvement stores—about $8.00 a box), any leftover or new interior latex paint of your color choice and WATER. That’s it! The beauty of caulk paint is IT STICKS TO ANYTHING. And….NO — NO SANDING needed! All you do is clean your piece of furniture with soap and water. Dry. And mix up a magic bowl of caulk paint:

  • 1/2 cup Plaster of Paris
  • 1/2 cup water … stir until creamy then add
  • 1 cup of your paint… more stirring until blended

Now—dip a FOAM paint brush in the paint and start painting! You will probably need two coats. This paint dries fast so you can do another coat in an hour or two. Since you are using interior latex paint, there is little smell—and the paint is slightly thick—so you can paint your furniture piece right where it is sitting! Just slip some newspaper or drop cloth under the ends to protect your carpet or flooring.

I painted the top of my dresser a different color (deep brown) as well as the “bun” feet.  (I just slid some newspaper under the feet and painted them; then removed the paper when it was dry.)  No heavy lifting … moving furniture around OR need for a garage or special “painting place.”

Also on my piece I wanted to accent the raised areas around the drawers and other areas in a tone that matched closely to the darker brown top and feet.  So I used an “ink distressing pad” found at craft stores, located in the card and paper craft area.  They come in many colors.  I used a deep brown-Rubbed Oil Bronze color.  It looks just like an “ink pad” as you can see in the photo below.  Just rub it over the raised edges lightly and smooth with your fingertip; repeat until you get the right depth you want.  Let dry overnight.  You are now ready to add a coat of WAX to protect your baby!

NO smelling polyurethane or messy chemicals…. Use Minwax Paste Finishing WAX—and a small soft cloth.  Rub a thin coat with the grain of the wood.  Let dry for 15 minutes—and “buff” with a clean soft cloth…  Channel —The Karate Kid… “wax on… wax off!”  For a heavily-used top area I’d do two to three coats.  That is it!  Put your hardware back on and stand back and admire your work! (Follow directions on Minwax; usually 24 hours to “cure” before you place objects on surfaces)

This paint can work on anything and you can choose any color of the rainbow!

Ready set—time for the magic! You’ll need:

Steps for Painting caulk paint