Cheri Miller’s latest passion is rescuing old footstools and reupholstering them with quilt tops and beadwork. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Redecorating doesn’t have to cost a fortune and, for many, spending a large amount isn’t an option as the recession puts a pinch on the pocketbook.

But Keizerite Cheri Miller discovered not too long ago that refreshing her physical environment can come with a small price tag, if one has the time and drive to find the right pieces.

“It’s amazing what you can find at second-hand stores or online,” Miller said. In the past week, I found three lamps that were perfectly usable and in great condition for less than $20,” she said.

Cheri Miller

The only thing new in Miller’s sewing room is the flatscreen television she uses to watch HGTV for ideas. She and husband Randy salvaged much of the furniture in the cozy retreat from garage sales or through Craigslist.

“We bought a bookshelf for $25 and repainted it, another piece was an entertainment unit that Randy added a shelf and molding to,” she said. It now serves as a partial base to her cutting table. “It makes me feel good to know I didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to redo a room.”

Miller caught the design bug after she retired and started visiting garage sales every Friday. It grew as she discovered finds at Goodwill and online classified sites like Craigslist. Later, she began combining second-hand treasures with her love of sewing and quilting. Her latest passion is breathing new life into footstools with quilt tops and beadwork, she even started teaching a class with the techniques she’s learned.

“The key is working with what you have. Sometimes, I just move stuff from one room to another. I recently redid our kitchen in a new color and I hot-glued an artificial bird to the top of the cabinets and put some water and green food coloring into a clear bottle and added it to the mix of what was already there,” she said.

It also doesn’t hurt to know some of the tricks of the trade.

“On Tuesdays, Target drops off their returns or clearance that they can’t sell at Goodwill,” she said. “It’s also a matter of knowing what you can do with something. Iron things are really popular right now and sometimes giving it a new coat of paint is all that needs to be done.”

Speed is essential when scouring online sites.

“You’ve got to be quick with something like Craigslist. If it’s a good deal it will go quickly,” Miller said.

Her home decor recently caught the eye of former employer and new neighbor Clint Holland who gave her a budget of $500 to redecorate two rooms in his new home.

“It was very satisfying,” she said. “I found quite a bit of stuff, throw pillows and lamps and shawls that added color to the rooms.”

Aside from a new look, much of the reward of redesigning on a budget is in the act itself.

“It’s a lot of work, but I feel good when I’m done with it. And sometimes it’s as simple as putting weeds in a vase,” she said.

(From Keizertimes 2011 Home & Garden special section)