Easy Design Fixes
“There are dozens of ways to update your house that are neither difficult nor time-consuming,” says Sally Morse, director of creative services for Hunter Douglas and the design expert on hunterdouglas.com. “A few weekends is all it takes.” The following are some of Sally’s suggestions:
The world is at your feet
Flooring is the anchor of any design scheme, and changing it instantly creates a more up-to-date appearance. Wall-to-wall carpeting can really look like yesterday’s news, so do the easiest thing: Pull it up and expose what’s beneath. Throw down a faux cowhide or two if you feel a little warmth is needed. They’re easy to clean with a quick sweep of the broom and are appropriate with a wide gamut of décors.
If you don’t like what’s underneath, consider staining a wood floor a lighter or darker hue (pure white and ebony are hot now), decorating it with decoupage, stenciling it with ready-made motifs from a kit or painting a freehand design.
It’s easy to add a border to an area rug. Glue-gunning contrasting suede on a sisal rug, for example, not only produces a more expensive appearance, but also personalizes it.
If you have a great room, lay rugs atop the bare floor (or the wall-to-wall carpeting if you must keep it) to demarcate sections for conversation, dining and television viewing. It’s like creating several new rooms from one.
Dress the windows — up or down
The key to modernizing window treatments is to make changes that not only look good, but also allow the window to perform more efficiently. As Dallas designer John Pfifer Marrs says, “A window treatment should be more than pretty. It should also offer privacy, light control and insulation.” Have you had mini-blinds since the 1960s? Consider exchanging them to versatile Roman shades for a more formal — yet still leisurely — look.
If draperies grace the windows along with shades or blinds, spiff them up with an interesting trim, such as shells or glass beads.
Fool the eye
Many mid-century ranch homes and post-World War II tract homes have small windows. Make them appear bigger by dressing them with sheer window fashions. Make them appear wider and taller by mounting window treatments outside the window frame.
One way to update a kitchen is to reface cabinet doors. A variety of stylish façades can be installed over existing frames for a perfect fit and enhanced functionality. You also can customize many details, from drawer glides to ornamental accents. Center a coordinating area rug on the floor, and there’ll be no mistaking it for any time but the present.
The good kind of mold
Many older homes lack molding. Similar to window dressings, molding provides the polished detailing that gives a room the designer touch.
When it comes to selecting the motif, think about the overall feel of the room. Don’t install a Palace of Versailles-style molding in an airy loft. The type of room and molding style should complement each other. Also key to selecting the right molding is that it be proportional to the size of the room and height of the ceiling.
Molding can include rosettes (to encircle a ceiling’s hanging-light fixture), baseboards and ceiling, door and window trim. Some are cut from wood, others of plaster or manmade materials such as polyurethane. There is a wide spectrum available for every budget and decorating preference.
Painting might be the fastest and easiest alteration one can make to a room. There are certain colors and combinations — avocado, Pepto Bismol pink, turquoise with brown and orange, to name a few — that shriek “old-fashioned.” When a room is painted in a more up-to-date palette, it can completely transform its mood from yesterday to today. If a total overhaul is too radical for the moment, try painting one accent wall. You could also paint all or just some of the trim. If you paint the doors, you could further embellish them with distinctive doorknobs.
Good colors to use for trim are white if there’s a lot of color in the room, a lighter or darker shade of the walls or a color you adore yet want to display sparingly in sofa pillows or a pottery collection. And don’t forget the ceiling. A subtle pattern or sheen (whether it be paint, wallpaper, gold or silver leaf) lifts the eyes up and accentuates the height of a room.
Add your own special touch
Just as you accessorize your wardrobe to suit your lifestyle, do the same with your home. Do you have an old-fashioned bedside table? Replace it with a clean-lined chair or stool with a flat, wide seat — marvelous for holding a small lamp, clock and water glass. Do you have a Victorian-era bathroom? Paint the claw-footed tub, and slipcover a chair with terrycloth to match.
Rather than covering every surface with silver-framed family photos, mass them on a wall (try your composition on the floor first and measure carefully to avoid a wall filled with nail holes).
Were you willed a set of damask-upholstered, gilded chairs from the 1800s? Make them “yours” by recovering them with something chic and unusual like a zebra print or faux leather. Retrofit that down-at-the-heels buffet into an elegant bathroom vanity. And break up suites of furniture. Nothing is more yesterday than matchy-matchy.
Sally Morse, Director of Creative Services
Hunter Douglas Inc.
Hunter Douglas Vignette Modern Roman Shades bring updated beauty and much-needed light control to the living room, pictured. The light wood floors and fresh coat of paint also help take years off the home.