Sep 13, 2011

Ideas to update your home.

As fall approaches, it's nice to make some interior changes to create a warm, inviting home through the colder months.  I'm an advocate for some things that make decorating your spaces fast and easy.  Here are my 5 top tips for changing the mood, appearance and even the style of your rooms.

1) Add Color. Paint an accent wall to liven up a dark, dated, or bland space. In an all white room, that color might be a soft taupe  like Sherwin Williams 7010 "White Duck".  A subtle change works in many spaces although doesn't create the drama that a rich gold color like Sherwin Williams 6395 "Alchemy" will.  Color enhances traditional decor and dramatizes a minimalist spaces.  Use accessories when painting is not an option (as with renters) and keep in mind that fewer, larger items will have more impact than many small ones. Vases - whether they are glass and filled with found items, or ceramics in interesting shapes or colors - can often be found inexpensively local import and discount stores. Pillows work well but use them sparingly since pushing them off a sofa or chair to sit in it isn't always practical. 

2) Create functional zones: With the open plans of many new homes, and remodeled older ones, some intimacy has been lost. By creating gathering, working, eating or other zones, you bring back a sense of intimacy yet retain the sense of openness. Area rugs define spaces nicely and add warmth to tile surfaces.  When you use the same colors on furnishings in each are, you also create definition and cohesiveness.  For example, brown leather seating in the television area separates it from a textured taupe fabrics used in the eating zone.  Lighting is a fantastic way to create and define zones. Pendants lights dropped over tables, sofas, and counters and recessed fixtures in 'zones' are good lighting choices. Be sure to put dimmer switches on all lights for mood control and energy efficiency.

3) Add personality.  Whether you have a warm traditional home or a sleek minimalist style space, bringing in objects, art and other pieces that provide a sense of yourself is important.  Decorative objects ground us when we see a treasured piece of furniture or a favorite object d'art.  Even in the most sophisticated modern spaces, there is room for a hand blown vase, canvas art, a timeworn chest, and soft, textured pillows.  In traditional homes, inherited chests, antiques, hand-made craft items and the like, are the kind of pieces that reflect you and your heritage.

4) Mix it up. Many people like numerous design styles. Adding an Asian chest to a country living room is creative and appealing.  Sleek barstools in a traditional kitchen are artistic and interesting. Mixing styles in your spaces enables more customization to suit your personality.  A great wicker lounge chair works well in a traditional living room when you keep the fabrics and patterns used in balance with the rest of the space.  Asian accents enhance every style of decor from formal traditional, country cottage, to sleek urban contemporary.  Use pieces that fit both a functional and decorative need. I firmly believe that less is more since carefully selected items have more impact than a cluttered look.

5) Add softness. Curves make us feel secure and add balance to our spaces.  Bring in plants to soften hard edges of large pieces of furniture or the corners of rooms. Use round end tables rather than all rectangular ones. Even a round pillow adds softness to the linearity of a large sofa. Adding up-lights behind furnishings creates a softened visual effect.  For large open corners that feel bare or empty, try angling large sofas or chests to soften them.  Panel drapes - even on windows with blinds or shutters - adds softness and warmth.