You’ve found the perfect house… Except for the dated décor. Eggplant-colored countertops, navy blue toilets, seriously ugly tile – or worse – can make your dream house seem more like a nightmare. When you just don’t have the time or the cash to replace the offending objects, it’s possible to find creative ways to live with them.

Do it right, and you might even forget that the last time parts of your home were stylish was during the Nixon administration.

Try some of these tricks to disguise ugly or outdated décor while you save up for a permanent fix:

1) Clean It


Sometimes, a good cleaning is all it takes to breathe new life into tired décor. Got a dingy carpet? Hire a professional steam cleaning crew to give it a thorough scrubbing. You’ll be amazed how removing dirt, stains and odors can make a rug look like new. Got dull or scuffed hardwood floors? Shine them up with a coat of Liquid Gold or another product designed for hardwood floors.

Even tarnished fixtures can benefit from a good scrubbing. Replacing the hardware on cabinets and drawers can get pricey—a single handle can cost up to $5 or more-–but removing and polishing the existing pieces can make them look brand new.

If your tile grout is dingy and moldy, a good cleaning can make a world of difference-–stained grout makes old or ugly tile look even worse. Use a bleach solution to remove stains and mildew, or apply a specially-designed grout paint to brighten up the grout.

2) Paint It


Ever notice how home improvement shows always start with a coat of fresh paint? There’s a reason for that. Paint is cheap, easy to apply and can freshen up a room faster than anything else.

Use paint to tone down ugly tile or countertops; choose complementary, not contrasting, colors to tone down the offending shades. If the walls are damaged or the plaster looks really awful, use a faux painting technique such as sponging, ragging, antiquing or glazing to add the look of texture to the wall while disguising flaws.

Don’t limit the paint to the walls only. Paint dark, outdated cabinets with bright white paint to instantly revive a dreary kitchen. You can even paint appliances. For example, turn that avocado-colored fridge from tired to trendy using chalkboard paint. You can even paint bathroom tile, as long as it’s not in the shower. If covering all the tile isn’t an option, paint some decorative designs on individual tiles to add interest and freshen the space.

3) Cover It


Sometimes, the offending décor is so bad that you can do nothing but cover it. If steam cleaning the carpet doesn’t work–-or it’s just a hideous color or texture-–cover it with a large area rug. You can usually pick up a stylish, room-sized rug for a few hundred dollars at a home décor or improvement store, which will cover the ugliness until you can afford to replace it. Rugs can also cover damaged floors–-and prevent more damage from occurring.

Another inexpensive option for covering ugly floors is stick-on tile. Available in a wide variety of colors and textures, stick-on tiles cost less than a dollar apiece and can be installed right over linoleum-–giving your kitchen a fresh new look for a fraction of the cost of ceramic tile or hardwood.

4) Distract From It


If you’ve tried painting, covering, cleaning and disguising with no success, sometimes your best bet is to distract the eye from the offending décor. Hang an oversized, dramatic piece of art on the wall to draw the eye away from tired flooring. Create a photo gallery along the hallway to cover the bumpy or damaged walls. Plants, throw pillows and collection displays all add visual interest to the room and take attention away from outdated or damaged areas.

For example, use a bold print shower curtain to distract from pitiful bathroom tile; find a print that contains at least a small amount of the tile color, or a shade of it, to prevent clashing. Add solid-colored bath rugs and accessories that complement the ugly tile. The most important thing is to work with the colors; ignoring or fighting the pink or mustard-colored tile will only make it stand out even more and highlight how ugly it actually is.

When you have ugly décor in your home, it can be frustrating-–especially when you don’t have the money to fix it and make it look the way you want. But you don’t have to be held prisoner by the previous owners’ bad taste. With a few clever tricks and quick fixes, you can live with unfortunate décor–-and you might even learn to like some of the less than attractive parts of your home.

When installing a new bath vanity or cabinets you can always turn to DecorPlanet.com.