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Mark Montano’s The Big-Ass Book of Home Décor — How To Turn Your Crib Into A Castle


Usually, how-to books brimming with DIY home décor ideas make me wince — especially after surviving a few furniture painting debacles back in 2001 (the result of some botched Martha Stewart-inspired projects). Oftentimes, design gurus make the most complicated of endeavors sound so simple, but when you try to follow their instructions, you feel like a messy, finger-painting kindergarten student. So, given all the crafts projects I've had wind up looking as amateurish as macaroni encrusted boxes, I approached designer Mark Montano's The Big-Ass Book of Home Décor: More than 100 Inventive Projects for Cool Homes like Yours with some skepticism. I know Montano has a keen eye for interior design (he's been a fixture on TV shows like WE's "She's Moving In" and the Style Network's "My Celebrity Home," and he's helped to remodel quite a few teen rooms for CosmoGIRL), but I wondered if his décor suggestions would require serious carpentry skills and a Project Runway-worthy dexterity with a sewing machine. Much to my surprise, this tome is filled with home décor ideas for both arts & crafts dunces (such as myself) and more advanced design students.

The book is divided into 14 categories: Dinnerware (focusing on how to jazz up inexpensive glass plates with simple tools like spray paint, comic books, cut-out images, and contact paper); Pillows (which tackles how to create funky pillow covers via twisted ribbons, stitched doodles, spray paint, iron-on images, and hand-glued embellishments); Walls (which is all about different painting techniques), Windows (which offers cool curtain ideas); Accents (from planter boxes to cardboard frames, drawer handles, and sculptural art); Candielight (from sconces to candleholders); Tables (which teaches you how to jazz up side tables and coffee tables via such materials as spray paint, beads, chopsticks, enlarged illustrations, and Chinese mats); Lighting and Lampshades (which focuses on chandeliers, pendant lamps, wall sconces, lamp shades, etc.); Bedroom Linens (mainly bedspread and headboard ideas); Mirrors; Art Work (easy-to-do wall art); Ikea Ideas (cool suggestions on how to take affordable Ikea trimmings and take them into eye-catching territory); Furniture (from shelves to dressers and side table); Seating (from hand-painted slipcovers to ottoman upholstery and chairs wrapped in fabric or covered with neat appliqués); and a final chapter on Templates, providing stencils for some of the motifs in the book (images of birds, Moroccan-inspired shapes, and flowers that an be traced or cut-out to execute various design ideas).

Some of my favorite projects are fantastically simple. For example, Montano teaches you how to breathe new life into a tired side table by taking Chinese Mats and covering the table with these mats using a hot glue gun and some ribbon trim. Or he runs down a neat painting technique for dressers involving yarn and spray paint ( you basically paint the dresser one color, cover it with yarn in zig-zagging patterns) and then spray paint it in a slightly different version of the paint shade). Another great idea: taking a mirror, some lace fabric to cover the edges, and then spray painting the frame so that it has a lace-like design.

Not only are many of these design suggestions easy to follow, but the materials required are relatively inexpensive, which makes you all the more eager to do some experimenting!

The Big-Ass Book of Home Décor, $22.50 (currently $15.30 at Amazon.com).

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