Drab to Fab

Great tips on decoratingTen Easy Ways to Give Your Home Pizzazz  
The holidays are approaching, and with their attendant festivities and visitors, they provide a perfect motivator for homeowners to redecorate, redo or otherwise bring the homestead up to snuff.

By Tabitha Yang 

{mosimage}The thought of remodeling or buying new furniture can be daunting. Who wants to face a project that could turn into a time-consuming and expensive hassle leading into the busiest time of the year?

It’s a familiar dilemma for Tallahassee’s designers and decorators, who offer plenty of advice to make a home appear fresh and new with a minimum of hassle. With help from  several prominent area designers, we have compiled a list of 10 tips to transform your home’s interior from dull to dynamic.

1. Get a vision. Before starting any home project, it’s always best to have a plan and a vision for the desired results. First, think about the desired atmosphere and the look you want to achieve. Do you want your home to look classic, contemporary, country, or perhaps something in between? Do you want to create a soothing and comforting atmosphere or a lively, energetic one? Everything – the colors you choose, the arrangement of the furniture, the lighting, flooring and accessories – will be different depending on the type of look and atmosphere you want.

2. Take inventory. After you figure out the look you’re going for, take inventory of all your furniture and decide which pieces will go best with the look you’re trying to achieve. Color, texture and shape are important considerations. White wicker furniture may go well with a country look but wouldn’t be appropriate if you want to give your home a contemporary feel. If there is too much furniture crowded into the room, get rid of the older, dated pieces that don’t match. If you don’t have a lot of furniture, you may want to save up and buy one or two quality pieces. A nice couch or chandelier can transform a room.

3. Narrow your focus. “Focus on one room at a time, because if you buy a chair for the bedroom and you buy a bed for the guest bedroom just because you see something you like, you end up spending a lot of money but you just don’t feel satisfied,” recommends Julian Mathis, an established interior designer with more than 30 years of experience. By focusing on one room at a time, you can concentrate on making the room look complete and cohesive. When  attention is spread out, you can end up feeling flustered and overwhelmed. Mathis recommends drawing a model of each room and then developing at least three different ways to arrange the furniture, choosing the one that feels most comfortable.

4. Consider your lighting. One design element that can change the look of a room is lighting. Susette Crosby, a designer with Affinity Design of Tallahassee, suggests changing from overhead lighting to sconce lighting. “You can have an electrician come in and fish a wire that elevates the lighting around face level, so rather than overhead lighting, which casts down shadows, the light is at eye level. It’s a very attractive light.” If the thought of wires and electricians is too much to handle, Crosby suggests lighting the corners of a room. Placing a plant in the corner of a room with a light shining up from the bottom will cast interesting shadows and provide  architectural interest, as well as making the room a little brighter. Under-counter lighting, mounted under the upper cabinets, can be a good idea for the kitchen. Crosby says that with under-counter lighting, “you don’t require the overhead lighting in the kitchen, which never is effective anyway because you’re always standing in your light if it’s coming from overhead.”

5. Pick a color. Simply painting a room a different color can change its entire appearance. If you don’t plan on replacing furniture but you want an updated look for a room, pick a color already present in the furniture and put it on the walls. For example, if you own a green, yellow and blue couch and your room is currently painted yellow, you can repaint it blue. Switching from a warm tone to a cool one changes the feel of the room while still matching your current furniture. When choosing colors, it’s also important to take into account the architecture of a room. “Depending on the architecture of the room, colors do different things,” Crosby says. For example, “if you have an entire bank of windows and you paint the room white, you walk in and your (eyes) get kind of dazzled, and you lose focus on the room itself. So in a small room, if you have a lot of light, then you may want to go with a deeper tone or a medium tone.”

6. Rearrange the furniture. Simply rearranging the furniture  can change a boring or uninviting room to one that is both surprising and inviting. Don’t push all the furniture against the wall – try angling it instead. “You can kind of keep things interesting by placing furniture asymmetrically at a 30-degree angle or a 45-degree angle, and then you can balance the sides of the room by putting things that play off of each other and by filling the corners,” Crosby says. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Rather than the typical rectangular arrangement, try a circle, a triangle or even a pentagon. To make a large space more intimate, designer Vivianne Kaharoeddin, who owns the local business At Home with Design, suggests breaking it up into several small seating groups. “One seating group is not good enough,” she says. “Trying to talk across the room . . . to reach a person sitting way over there is not good enough, because the distance is too great.”

7. Add area rugs. Rugs can make a room feel more inviting. If you’re going for a classic look, interior designer Mathis suggests investing in an authentic, hand-knotted Persian rug rather than a manufactured facsimile. In his view, it’s better to have “something that’s valued, where you can pass it along to your children or, if you get tired of it, you have more of a resale aspect to it,” rather than spending less money but getting a machine-made rug that will plummet in value as soon as you purchase it. Mathis notes that many of his younger clients are going for rugs in contemporary designs that utilize trendy colors such as apple green, robin’s egg blue and chocolate brown.

8. Accessorize with discretion. Much as a beautiful necklace or a dazzling pair of earrings can really finish an outfit, accessories can provide the finishing flourish for a room. If you have lived in the same place for a while, you probably have too many accessories. Remove them from your mantelpiece, desk or dresser top and sort through them to see which are really necessary and will help to accomplish the look you’re going for. Too much clutter never looks good. Sally Rude, who owns her eponymous antique shop, gives the following tip for accessories: “Start with a large vase like a Chinese vase as the focal point or a punch bowl on a stand, for example. Something that has some sculptural qualities to it. And leave it like that if you’re a minimalist, but if you’re not, you can add some smaller items to it.”

9. Watch pattern sizes. “If you’re not careful, the feel of your textures can be the same,” says Mathis. “You don’t want the same-size pattern in the woven fabric (as in the rug), you want to mix those; if they’re the same size, they’re going to compete in a room. It’s important to get your proportions correct.” Try mixing different patterns together – a floral pattern with a striped pattern and a solid pattern, for example. As long as they’re in the same color family, the room won’t look too busy.

10. Mix styles. Don’t adhere too strictly to one particular style. Adding an element of “something else” will keep the room from feeling too over-the-top in one direction. Crosby says that “with my clients, I encourage them not to get stuck in a particular spot.” If she is designing for someone who wants a country look for their home, she usually encourages them to give it a little bit of an edge by using more contemporary colors or finishes “so that it has a country flair to it, but you can still mix other things with it.” Antiques dealer Rude echoes that sentiment. “Mixing periods and styles is really a wonderful way to decorate,” she says. “It’s much more interesting, much fresher, much newer.”

Overwhelmed? Consider hiring a decorator. His or her advice can be useful for less than the cost of a total room redo. Crosby, for example, charges Tallahassee clients $95 per hour and is  happy to come in for a day, discuss wants and needs, take inventory and provide suggestions for rearranging and freshening the look of a client’s home. Mathis and Kaharoeddin say they are willing to give as much design advice as you need. In fact, it may be wiser to engage in a quick consultation before buying anything.

“I find a lot of times, people come to me after they’ve impulse-bought,” Mathis says. “They go somewhere, they see something that they really like, they buy it, they get home and they realize it doesn’t fit, so they try something else. If they had come to us to start with, we would have saved them a lot of headache and money that way.” 

Categories: Habitat