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Getting more out of rooms
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Do it yourself projects can transform your home. - photo by Photo Contributed

Did you ever watch a home improvement show team transform a drab room into something spectacular using a shoestring budget and less time than it takes you to clean out your closet? Ever wonder how they did it? Here's the secret: they cheat. And you can too.

You would probably never consider taking shortcuts in other aspects of your life, from car maintenance to paying your taxes. But when it comes to do-it-yourself home improvement and decorating projects, there's no shame in "cheating" - and a lot to be gained by doing it. Decorator touches like crown moulding that requires no mitering and no-sew window treatments can give your home an instant visual upgrade for a fraction of the cost of having those jobs done professionally.
Here are four DIY "cheats" that will save you time and money - and yield professional results that look like you spent a bundle:

1. Crown moulding
Few design touches do more to dress up a room than adding crown moulding. But traditionally, crown moulding has been a job best left to professionals or DIYers with a lot more time and ambition than most. Adding crown molding the old-fashioned way requires expertise - like knowing how to properly cut and finish each piece - and tools that most homeowners simply don't have.

Fortunately, there's an easy alternative: Moulding Mates is a crown moulding installation system that requires no specialized tools or skills. You don't even need to miter cut corners. Simply pre-finish the polyurethane moulding (which is available in a wide range of styles), attach the patented Quick Clips to the wall where you want to place the moulding, and pop the moulding lengths into place on the clips. Corner pieces and connector blocks cover ends and seams, eliminating the need to miter ends and patch or touch up the long pieces. You can easily install the entire system using a screw drill and a saw. You can learn more and browse products at

2. Carpet tiles
New carpeting is a much-desired upgrade. As anyone who's ever bought carpet can tell you, the cost of installation can be prohibitive, yet properly installing wall-to-wall carpet requires specialized skills and tools that most DIYers don't have. Carpet tiles can be a great alternative.

Installing carpet tiles is well within the abilities of most homeowners. Because they're a smaller, more manageable size, carpet tiles are easier to install than a large piece of carpet. They require fewer cuts and no stretching. They also deliver enhanced design capabilities; it's easy to create a unique pattern using different colored tiles.

3. Mirror framing systems
A frame around a bathroom mirror can give the entire room a more luxurious, upscale feel. Yet, like traditional crown moulding, conventional framing requires knowledge of mitering. Fortunately, a simple online search will yield plenty of easier options, including framing systems that provide a custom look with pre-cut (and mitered) frame pieces.
The systems require no more expertise to install than being able to follow measuring directions and apply adhesive to a mirror. Available in a wide array of designs and colors, these systems make it possible to frame a mirror to match virtually any design theme.

4. No-sew window treatments
Custom window treatments look great but can cost a bundle. Sewing them yourself requires more expertise than you likely gleaned in your high school home-ec class, and you would need a decent (read: expensive) sewing machine to do the job right. Creating no-sew curtains requires nothing more than a tape measure, some scissors, iron-on adhesive, an iron and several yards of the fabric of your choice. Simply measure the windows to find your desired fabric length, cut the fabric into appropriately sized panels, and use the adhesive and iron to finish the edges, no sewing required.
When it comes to do-it-yourself home improvement and decorating, don't be a hero. A little "cheating" can save you time and money, and make creating your dream home fast, easy and rewarding.