functionality and comfort before looks. Prior to buying colourful panniers and covering the bike with flower garlands, make sure the saddle position and handlebar height are properly adjusted for your proportions and postural preference. You may be surprised how much just that factor alone can change the "personality" of the bicycle. And this, in turn, will better inform subsequent aesthetic choices.
lug outlining, hand-painting small panels, or even painting your own designs along the entire frame. In Europe I see bicycles hand-painted with flowers, polka-dots, zebra stripes, peace symbols, lady bugs, and all sorts of other simple motifs. A paint pen for lug outlining will set you back around $2. Enamel paint will cost around $6 for a small can.
[image via Boston Retrowheelmen]
4. Explore ways to trade and barter with other bicycle owners. The components you no longer want might be just what another person is looking for, and vice-versa. This is considerably more affordable than buying everything new, and can yield interesting results. I acquired some of my best stuff via trades, including saddles, dress guards, a rack, and even an entire bicycle!