Affordable DIY Ways to Decorate Your Space

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring three fabulous bloggers who have graciously agreed to contribute to our dear blog, Live. Love. Roost. While these upcoming topics stray from what’s near and dear to our heart, Madison real estate, they are all in line with our deep love for great design ideas and all things homey. Please enjoy this week’s featured blogger, Jane Blanchard, from the fabulous Austin, Texas blog ModernizeWe think this post will especially appeal to those venturing to decorate their new accessory dwelling unit or Airbnb space. Whether you just bought a home or are looking to furnish your newly constructed accessory dwelling unit, you could be flat broke when it comes time to decorate. Luckily, we have some ideas for you that make use of basic items to decorate your space DIY style.

Make that Firewood Useful

Some properties are chock-full of firewood just decorating the backyard. Bring some choice pieces inside to use as decorative accents. Cut small branches lengthwise to hang on the wall. Add fasteners for a makeshift coat rack or even connect four branches into a framed piece of art.

Create an Office...Out of the Closet

If you lack the space for a completely separate office or the supplies to fill it, try filling a closet with shelves and a desk, allowing a compact chair to slide right underneath. You can remove or keep the closet doors as needed. Hiding the space may be preferable in a studio apartment, for instance.

Tree trunk table top with black hairpin legs.

Sand and Finish an Old Wood Table

If you salivate every time you pass by a designer wood table, you are a traditionalist at heart. From the 1950s to 1970s, everyone wanted that smooth wood table. Step it up for the 21st century and make your own wood design. Search for large pieces of wood sold at thrift shops and other outlets. Sand it down, add legs and place it where you like!

Brighten up that Firebox

Fireplaces can look lonely for most of the year, so fill yours up with candles. Use different candles with various heights and sizes to fill the space. Turn them on throughout the year to lend a gorgeous glow to the room without the added heat.

Make old items brand new again with some creative ideas. Your decorative prowess may persuade people into thinking the items are chic designer products. Keep your decorative secret to yourself to impress everyone with a shoestring budget.

Need more home design inspiration? Check out!

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Garage apartments, granny flats, and "tiny houses"

All about the cool phenomenon known as "Accessory Dwelling Units"

accessory dwelling unit in madison wi real estate

From converting a garage into a rental unit, to adding a second home on your lot for an aging parent -- "accessory dwelling units" are popping up across Madison!

In January 2013, changes to the City of Madison's zoning ordinance allowed residents to legally construct accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. Not only are ADUs helping some homeowners make better use of their existing space, they're also tapping into the increasingly popular "tiny house" movement.

According to the national experts at, ADUs are "a really simple and old idea: having a second, small dwelling right on the same grounds (or attached to) your regular single-family house, such as an apartment over the garage, a tiny house on a foundation in the backyard, or a basement apartment."

So -- you have a garage you'd like to convert, or addition you'd like to make. Where do you start? Well, any legally added ADU will need a permit. Here's a quick list of first steps from our friends at the City.

Ten steps for planning and permitting an ADU:

1. Brainstorm your project goals and scope 2. Talk to the Madison Zoning Department about the project to determine its feasibility 3. Rough-sketch your ideas -- get creative input from family and friends 4. Identify your architect and consider potential builders (unless you're going the DIY route) 5. Work with your architect to create and refine a schematic design 6. Talk with your neighbors -- community buy-in is important, especially when adding density to already-dense areas 7. Choose a builder 8. Develop permit-ready (or construction-ready) drawings 9. Apply for your permit -- permit issued! 10. Break ground

Want to learn more? Here you go!

Green Accessory Dwelling Unit Initiative - resources for Madison homeowners who want to build environmentally friendly ADUs

10 Steps to Permitting an ADU - a quick reference guide for Madisonians interested in building (and permitting!) their own ADU

Design Coalition - design support for Madison-area residents who want to design and build ADUs - a volunteer-run resource guide on how to design, build, and get approval for your ADU, complete with zoning ordinances by state

ADUs in Madison - a Facebook page where Madisonians can share advice and resources related to ADUs

Time to Build - sample ADU floorplans, plus words of wisdom when thinking about your own ADU

Madison Zoning Department - who to contact when you're ready to get started!

Related links:

The Hottest Home Amenity: In-Law Apartments, Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2014.