We’ve all watched home improvement shows transform a drab room into something spectacular using a shoestring budget and in less time than it takes to clean out your closet. Ever wonder how they did it? Here’s the secret: they cheat. And you can too.

When it comes to do-it-yourself home improvement and decorating projects, there’s no shame in “cheat­ing.” Decorator touches like crown moulding that requires no mitering and no-sew window treatments can give your home a visual upgrade for a fraction of the cost of having those jobs done professionally.

Here are four DIY “cheats” that will save you time and money and give professional results that look like you spent a bundle:

1    Add Crown moulding – Few design touches do more to dress up a room than add­ing crown moulding. Adding crown molding the old-fashioned way requires expertise – like knowing how to properly cut and finish each piece – and tools that most homeowners simply don’t have.

Fortunately, there’s an easy alternative: Moulding Mates is a crown moulding installation system that requires no specialized tools or skills. You don’t even need to miter cut corners. Simply pre-finish the poly­urethane moulding, attach the Quick Clips to the wall and pop the moulding lengths into place on the clips. Corner pieces and connector blocks cover ends and seams, elimi­nating the need to miter ends and patch or touch up the long pieces. You can easily install the entire sys­tem using a drill and a saw.

2 Carpet tiles – As anyone who’s ever bought carpet can tell you, properly in­stalling wall-to-wall carpet requires specialized skills and tools that most DIYers don’t have. Carpet tiles can be a great alternative.

Because they’re a smaller, more manageable size, carpet tiles are easier to install than a large piece of carpet. They require fewer cuts and no stretching. They also deliver enhanced design capabilities; it’s easy to create a unique pattern using different colored tiles.

3    Mirror framing systems – A frame around a bathroom mirror can give the entire room a more luxurious, upscale feel. But conventional framing requires knowledge of mitering. Fortunately, a simple online search will yield plenty of easier options, including framing systems that provide a custom look with pre-cut frame pieces.

The systems require no more expertise to install than being able to follow measuring directions and ap­ply adhesive to a mirror. Available in a wide array of designs and colors, these systems make it possible to frame a mirror to match virtually any design theme.

4   No-sew window treatments – Custom window treatments look great but can cost a bundle. Sewing them yourself requires more expertise than you likely gleaned in your high school home-ec class. Creating no-sew curtains requires nothing more than a tape measure, scissors, iron-on adhesive, several yards of the fabric and an iron. Simply mea­sure the windows to find your desired fabric length, cut the fabric into appropriately sized panels, and use the adhesive and iron to finish the edges, no sewing required.

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