Interior remix

How to give your home a new look by working with what you have

How to give your home a new look by working with what you have

May 05, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

A couch switch might be the only thing standing between blah and a new look for your home.

That is, switching around the couch's spot in the room.

Rearrange your furniture, cut the clutter and add a plant or two for color, and you'll end up with a whole new look.

The professionals call this "interior redesign," the art of working with what you have.

"Sometimes, we'll consult a client on how to arrange a room," said Natasha Arnall, an interior designer and owner of Interiors of Maryland in Funkstown.

It might seem simple, but it's a concept that is gaining more acceptance from budget-conscious, do-it-yourselfers and interior designers who peddle it as a cheaper alternative to a full-on interior design job.


Local designers have been offering interior redesign services for years, but they attribute a recent spike in redesign requests to HGTV shows such as "Decorating Cents" and "Design Remix," low-cost makeover shows that encourage homeowners to transform a room's look by using things they already have in the house.

"People understand it more than ever before," said Mary Ellen Sullivan, an interior redesigner in Gaithersburg, Md.

But as it goes, everything on TV seems easy - even rearranging a room.

"They've got this whole team of workers and everything is done in 30 minutes," Laura Meredith, owner of Meredith Design Group in Sabillasville, Md. "It's not like that."

Step one: Clear the room

The first step is getting everything out of the room.

"So you can see the room," Meredith said.

Once everything is removed, go through and pitch anything you don't want, don't use or forgot you had.

Sullivan said most of her clients end up using two-thirds of the items that were originally in the room.

When you're down to the things you absolutely love, then you're ready to start putting things back into the room. Take the largest piece - usually the sofa - and use it to fill the largest space. Work your way down until you're left with the smallest set of objects, Sullivan said.

Working big and small

If you're working with a small space, too many small objects are bad for design.

"It tends to look very chaotic to the eye," Sullivan said.

Instead of using several small pieces of furniture, use fewer medium-to-large size pieces. Perhaps, a large couch and a chair, Sullivan said.

Accessories, such as family photos, should be uniform - putting them in the same type of frame is one way to create a cleaner look, Sullivan said.

Ironically, one big piece of artwork is another way to open up space, the designers said.

"It's just the way your eye travels," said Meredith. "If there's too much to look at, it makes the room feel busy."

When redesigning large spaces, avoid putting everything against the wall. Even as little as three feet from the wall makes a difference, Sullivan said.

Anchor an area with a rug and use that to create a conversation area.

Add some color to your life

Color also helps transform a room's look. If it's in the budget, there's nothing wrong with slapping on a fresh coat of paint, Meredith said.

"People are so afraid of color," Meredith said.

For those not seeking that sort of color commitment, accessories are an easy way to introduce color.

Arnall recommends buying a few two-sided pillows to change up the color scheme. Window treatments can also affect the feel of a room. The fabric from long curtains can be used else where in the room, for pillows and other accessories, Arnall said.

You can also add plants and fresh flowers.

"It makes such a tremendous difference," Sullivan said. "And they're inexpensive in the long run."

Quick tips to freshen up your home's look

Interior designer Natasha Arnall, owner of Interiors of Maryland, has a few tips:

Make curtains or pillows out of napkins or table clothes.

· Add trim to existing window treatments.

· If you have any large vases or planters, put a piece of thick glass or granite on top to make a side table.

· Use dishware or a small mirror as a candle holder or as a base for centerpieces.

· Hang dishes like artwork or get a plate stand and set them out around your house.

· Add ribbon to lampshades.

· Get pillows with two different sides so you can switch or use them in other areas of your house.

· Use baskets for storage on a bookshelf or next to a chair.

· Rearrange the artwork you have around your house.

· Use wreaths as a centerpiece for candles.

· If you're arranging a room for a holiday function or party, take a photo of the finished room so you can re-create it.

The Herald-Mail Articles