Breathe Life Into Your Living Space

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Just because you're spending more time in the nest doesn't mean you have to tolerate it as is. "You walk into the same house every day, and you see the same stuff," says decorator Michelle Williams, who keeps Chicago's arty elite in Moroccan poufs. "Even if it just means buying bright turquoise candles for those holders you inherited from your aunt, get something in your place that makes you want to throw a party and use your last twenty to cook for your friends." More of her advice for jazzing up your joint:

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Get in over your head with color. "If your walls are any shade of white, get an edgy, dramatic look by using an espresso brown or dusky purple paint on the ceiling. It will make it seem higher but still make the place feel warmer and cozier."

Treat your windows better. "A lot of people have neutral off-white or khaki panel curtains, which is fine. But if you take them down and sew a band of bold fabric—anything from ultra-suede to faux leather to silk—along the vertical edges, it becomes a phenomenal point of interest in the room."

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Be poufy. "My favorite way to accent a room right now is with a Moroccan leather pouf, $259; importsfrommarrakesh.com. In black, white, or gold, they look like jewels, and your eye gravitates toward them."

Get in the right frame of mind. "Take all those pictures you've got three deep on a shelf in mismatched frames—the ones no one looks at—to a framer and have her do an aqua-colored matting. Then buy black frames for $9 or so and line them up in a hallway on the way to the bathroom. People will look at those pictures."

Rip off Rothko. "Brights are a big trend this season—blame the long winter and bleak economy. Add some in a fun, unkitschy way by getting two big wrapped canvases at your local art shop, painting one in a glossy red and one in a glossy pink, and hanging them side by side. They're bold and beautiful, and people will think you paid $10,000 at a gallery for them."

BOTTOM LINE: From $15.

Color You Happy

Turn your apartment walls into the ultimate pick-me-up! There's a paint color for whatever the recession's throwing your way, says Robert Verdi, home-design expert. Here, his picks for the . . .

CUBICLE SLAVE

You survived layoffs! And now you're overworked, underpaid, and need a place to retreat to.

The furthest you can get from an office is the beach, so escape with a serene sea-foam green that will conjure a beautiful, rip-roaring expanse of ocean in your subconscious.

BIGGEST LOSER

All those recession-proof pizza dinners took their toll, and you need to get back in shape.

Blur the line between indoors and out with a Granny Smith green that will do to your eye what the apple does to the palate—and make you run a marathon (not watch one).

GIRL ON THE PROWL

You want to get on Match, but you aren't feeling so fab (the facials were the first thing to go from your budget).

Try a fleshy pinky beige—not a Barbie pink, which will be scary to boys, but one that flatters so you feel good going out and look good coming home (not alone).

SUDDENLY SOLO

Your boyfriend's boss gave him a choice: Quit or transfer to the Delhi office. Hello, LDR.

Start with his favorite blue oxford, but make it a little girlier. Periwinkle is very calming, cool, and soothing, and when you wake up alone, it will be as if he's hugging you. Cue the awws.


Get 101 Stylish Ideas for Your Home and Closet, Under $250

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