5 home inspiration blogs you should be reading

Have you obsessed about your drab living room lately? Sure, you have painted and moved the furniture hither and yon; still, the room just does not feel right. While in this mindset, you watch one of the many home improvement shows. But what are your odds of being found in the home improvement store by the crew that does free makeovers for a TV show? Since the odds are slim to none, and since your budget is on a serious diet, I have found that home inspiration bloggers frequently have the solutions to the design nightmares that keep me awake. Best of all, my top five picks are down to earth and offer reasonable suggestions that even a lean budget will love.

The House of Smiths

There are DIY tutorials, in depth color workups and even tips for the hallway that just does not seem to jell with the rest of the home's decorating theme. Created by Cason and Shelley Smith, these bloggers take personal home remodel experience and put it into blog form. The result is an easy to follow collection of DIY posts that tackle budget-friendly home decorating, improving and upgrading. My favorite part is the detailed list of paint colors.

Design Sponge

The brainchild of Brooklyn's Grace Bonney, this frequently updated home design blog is a mix of insider perspective -- Bonney wrote for House & Garden magazine -- and DIY passion. I love the before and after section of the blog. Who doesn't like to look at the results that seemingly daring color combinations and decor tips bring about?

Pretty Handy Girl

Brittany is the pretty handy girl who empowers you to finish all the projects you have started. She is also the voice of encouragement that tells you yes, you can do this project and finish it. Check out her "be your own electrician" section and finally replace those old outdated light fixtures with hip new ones. She makes it sound so easy, you will ask yourself why you have lived for so long with the hideous chandelier the last homeowner left hanging. (Don't worry if you are a visual learner; Brittany offers plenty of photos.)

Apartment Therapy

This blog is maintained by an online community of passionate homemakers, DIY mavens and decor-savvy cheapskates. "Simplicity and luxury are not mutually exclusive," they say. Apartment therapist Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan specializes in no-nonsense approaches to turning a home into a beautiful space. I particularly enjoy the shopping suggestions that focus on green living. Ideas are generally inexpensive and universally chic.

The Inspired Room

Blogger Melissa commits to starting with what you have and then sharing "simple, doable ideas for loving the home." This is not the type of blog for the handy-woman chomping at the bit to unpack a few power tools. Instead, it caters to the arts and crafts inspired woman who has half a gallon of red paint, a few seashells and perhaps some glass beads. Melissa finds new ways to use old things that might have you find a purpose for the old dresser -- and the glass beads -- yet.

More Home Improvement Help from Sylvia Cochran