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6 Low-Cost Ideas for an Interior-Design Makeover

6 Low Cost Ideas for an Interior Design Makeover

Ever wish you could give your business a quick, budget facelift? If so, you might want to watch Restaurant Impossible. On this show, chef Robert Irvine works with struggling restaurateurs, teaching them the basics of how to manage a restaurant for profit.

While he works with the owner and chefs, his interior designer, Taniya Nayak, has two days and a $10,000 renovation budget with which to freshen up a restaurant's visual appeal for diners. She possibly has the most challenging end of the deal -- and her low-budget ideas could help any business owner give a location a new look on the cheap.

Irvine and Nayak faced a real doozy of a challenge with the Chatterbox Cafe in Windham, N.H. Owner Lynn had cashed in her late husband's life insurance money to open the restaurant and give jobs to three of her sons, but she had no business experience. The place was also kind of dingy and cluttered.

Here are six simple decor tricks Nayak used to create a relaxing, clean ambiance at the Chatterbox:

1. White paint. It's amazing what a quick coat of white can do to make a store look fresh and inviting. With new white paint on the wood portions of the Chatterbox's bar, the area instantly looks more charming and cozy.

2. Headboards instead of banquettes. Custom upholstery costs a fortune, so instead of creating full-on booths, Nayak simply installs a set of gray, velvet-upholstered bed headboards on the walls behind the wooden booths. This gives them more of a comfortable and luxurious feel for a fraction of the money.

Related: To Grow Sales, Turn Your Workplace into a Theater for Customers

3. Rented library projector. In order to quickly paint a version of the restaurant's name and logo onto a wall of the eatery, Nayak rented a projector at the local library and stuck in a restaurant menu to project the graphic onto the wall. Then a painter used that as a guide and hand-painted on the graphic. Having a big company name repeated on the wall made the eatery instantly feel more professional and strengthened its branding.

4. PVC pipe. To create a visually interesting wine rack to store wine in sight of diners, Nayak has her crew cut lengths of PVC pipe the right circumference and length to fit a wine bottle inside. Stack the pipes up in a pyramid shape, and you've got a handy, functional, and durable wine rack.

5. Fabric as wall art. To create a large piece of art to cover much of one wall, Nayak buys $50 worth of fabric with a large graphic design on it. She cuts one huge flower graphic out, stretches it over a wood picture frame and presto! a lovely "picture" brightens up the room.

6. Sheets of tile. To snazz up the area behind the bar, Nayak adds a few sheets of small glass tiles that come applied to a sheet of backing, ready for gluing up and grouting. The addition of the glittering tiles adds instant luxury.

The follow-up to the Chatterbox story says the restaurant continues to struggle financially, but even if the current owners can't make a go of it, they now have a nice-looking property they might sell to another restaurateur.

How have you spruced up your store? Leave a comment and share your budget makeover tips.

Related: 7 Layout Secrets of the Big Retail Chains

Carol Tice, a freelance writer, is chief executive of TiceWrites Inc. in Bainbridge Island, Wash. She blogs about freelance writing at Make a Living Writing. Email her at carol@caroltice.com.

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