All About ReDecorating
February 21, 2012 by Rich Quintal

Décor Section-Providence Journal-Saturday, January 1st

Spruce up your space: 20 ways to freshen your home for the New Year
01/01/2011 01:00 AM EST
By Jenna Pelletier

Journal Staff Writer

Lisa Foster of Providence interior architecture firm Reconstructure gave this Pawtucket loft space a new look by mixing the owner’s existing furnishings with pillows, vases and lamps from its showroom.

The Providence Journal / Frieda Squires

Add fresh style to your home with easy, inexpensive tips from local designers.

It’s the season of renewal. Clear out the holiday decorations and add some style to your home with these quick, easy tips from local design experts.

1. Start by paring down

“Take a hard look at what’s already there and see what can be edited,” says interior decorator Lisa Newman Paratore. Getting rid of piles — magazines, mail, paperwork — is always a good place to begin. If photos have taken over your living room, put some away in a new album. Ask friends if they’d like those paperback books you’ll probably never read again.

2. Reuse

“Think, what can I do with what I already have?,” suggests interior architect Lisa Foster of the Providence firm Reconstructure. Look around in the basement or attic and you may find forgotten treasures. A vase collecting dust on a bottom shelf may look completely different filled with flowers in your living room.

3. Visit a consignment store

Consign pieces you no longer want and hunt for gently used or refurbishable pieces to replace them. “Consignment stores are especially great for coffee tables, vintage art, mirrors and wooden chairs,” says interior designer Kate Jackson of Kate Jackson Design.

4. Bring in something alive

Buy a new indoor plant or make a habit of picking up a bunch of fresh flowers on your weekly grocery store trip, recommends Newman Paratore. “It doesn’t have to be a fancy groomed bouquet,” she says. “I like putting sunflowers in an old pitcher.”

5. Pull out a paintbrush

Painting is the easiest and most economical way to give a space a new look, says Newman Paratore. “Changing color will give the illusion of a major makeover, and most of us are capable of doing our own painting,” she says. Try an out-of-the-box color, painting a contrast wall or creating stripes using masking tape as a guide.

6. Assess your lighting

Any interior designer will tell you good lighting is essential. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, lighting isn’t where it should be,” says Jan Girouard of All About Redecorating, in Newport. “Putting things on dimmers is huge. You should control the lighting for every mood you’re trying to create.” Make sure there’s a good mix of ambient, task and accent lighting.

7. Hang a mirror

“Strategically adding a large mirror to a wall can not only add more natural light — and style — to a room, but it can also make the space appear bigger,” says Jackson, who likes using large mirrors in small spaces such as bathrooms.

8. Create a gallery wall with family photos

Black-and-white photos always look chic. You can also try grouping together photos with similar colors, suggests Foster. All the frames should have an element that ties them together, such as shape or color.

9. Consider furniture placement

“If you walk into your space and something feels off, it probably is,” says Girouard. It’s a good idea to make sure furniture is not blocking any of the room’s focal points. “I’ve seen furniture in front of fireplaces, when that’s something that should be highlighted,” she says.

10. Don’t forget about utilitarian areas

“Whether we like it or not, we spend a lot of time in places like our laundry room,” says Foster. Modular carpet tiles (such as those by FLOR), attractive shelving and a few new coats of paint will make chores a little more bearable.

11. Add nature-related elements

Bring in things that remind you of the outdoors, even if it’s just a pile of freshly cut logs for the fireplace, recommends Foster. She also likes framing interesting botanical prints from antique books. Search for them in used book shops or make color copies from a library book. To create cohesion, use similar frames for a group of prints.

12. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint

A nice front door makes a great first impression, says Jackson, who is partial to lipstick red and high gloss black doors. To take it a step further, add a shiny brass knocker.

13. Add or change throw pillows

“It’s amazing how pillows can change the mood of a room,” says Jackson, who likes mixing modern, geometric patterns with simple, vintage florals. Instead of getting rid of pillows you already own, try buying or making covers for them, recommends Foster.

14. Use color in new ways

Try a bright color such as Kelly green or lemon yellow to paint the inside of bookshelves, suggests Foster. Investing in a new appliance in a fun shade (a bright red espresso machine or orange stand mixer) is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to add color to a kitchen.

15. Switch up lamp shades

If you don’t want to buy new lamps, replacing existing shades with new ones in fun prints is an easy way to freshen up a room, says Foster.

16. Dress your windows

Jackson always recommends that clients invest in either off-the-shelf or custom window treatments. “It’s a great way to add texture and color to any room,” she says.

17 Consider wallpaper

“Wallpaper has made a big comeback,” says Girouard. A bold or retro pattern can be fun in a smaller room such as a walk-in closet or bathroom.

18. Add a neutral rug

If you have a dark rug that’s seen better days, consider buying a new one in a neutral color. “A simple, neutral sisal rug will bring instant cohesiveness without breaking the bank,” says Jackson.

19. Update hardware

Changing out a kitchen’s door and drawer hardware is a quick but effective improvement, says Jackson. If you’re really motivated, apply a fresh coat of paint to the cabinets before installing.

20. If all else fails, ask for help

Ask a friend –– or hire a pro –– to assess your space. “We don’t necessarily see our stuff the way other people see it,” says Newman Paratore. A complete professional overhaul won’t be cheap, but some interior designers are available by the hour to help you shop for furniture or pick out paint colors.

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