Simplicity Is Key

By Linda Pescatore

June 19, 2009 5 min read


A quick fix may be all you need to spruce things up

Linda Pescatore

Creators News Service

When it comes to fall and winter decorating, just because you're short on time and cash doesn't mean you can't add some panache. As the seasons change, look around your house. If you are tired of the same old stuff in the same colors arranged the same old way, it could be time to give your roost a boost.

You may not think of it as a particularly quick fix, but experts agree that for the time and money invested, nothing pays off like a bit of color.

"Putting new throw pillows on the couch refreshes the couch, but it may not refresh the room," said David Bromstad, host of HGTV's "Color Splash" and winner of the network's "Design Star" competition. "Painting is the most inexpensive, most dramatic way to transform a space, hands down."

He advised keeping your larger investment pieces neutral -- that way you can change the paint and accessories around them to get a new look without a big price tag.

Hate to paint? "You might want to just tackle one wall to make it a little less overwhelming," said Kathy Peterson, co-host of "The Balancing Act," a morning show on Lifetime TV, and author of five books, including "Kathy Peterson's Great Outdoor Decorating Makeovers" ($20, Watson-Guptill).

If you do create an accent wall, you can be a little more daring in your color choice than if you were covering four walls, Bromstad said. Consider a really bright tone like chartreuse or a dark tone like cocoa.

After painting, the first thing Bromstad would do is rearrange furniture. "Just changing where your couch is, if you can, gives it a whole new life," he said.

Pull it all out, add or remove pieces and eliminate the clutter. "Start fresh, start clean," he added. "Organize your shelves, clear it all away and then just thoughtfully place things."

Peterson revitalized her personal living room when she painted both her brick fireplace and its surrounding built-in cabinets white, adding a denim blue color to the walls with white trim to make it all pop.

As a crafter, Peterson advised further personalizing your room with quick and easy projects, such as "slipcovering" your lampshades and recovering your pillows.

In the dining room, don't be afraid to paint the furniture. "I know a lot of people say, 'Oh, no! You can't paint that; it's wood.' Well, watch me," she said.

She'll even go for family heirlooms. "I had a dark brown antique china cabinet that went back to the '20s. I painted it white. It didn't look like a dingy old hand-me-down anymore; it looked like a designer piece," she said. "Then I painted the back panel the same color as the wall and it looks like built-ins. You can also do that with shelves."

If you're not ready to tackle your dining room furniture, Bromstad advised slipcovering the chairs. "If they're a little tired or you don't love the look, it's easy to freshen them up. If the chairs are traditional, you want to go with fabric that's a little more modern."

But he said you'll get even more wow factor by changing the lighting fixture over the dining table, especially if you watch for sales. "You can get a fantastic, really dramatic chandelier for less than $300."

For the bedroom, stalk the outlet malls for bargains on new linens, but don't stop there, Peterson said. She adds fabric, ribbons, stencils or whatever catches her fancy to customize bed covers and curtains. She'll sometimes transform a headboard with a padded slipcover made from lofty batting and fabric that's draped and sewn to fit, or adhere fabric to a panel with repositionable glue or starch, which won't permanently mar the wood.

Curtains offer an opportunity to elevate drama, according to Bromstad. Whether your decor is traditional, contemporary, modern or even country, he advised hanging curtains all the way to the ceiling for maximum impact.

Whether you choose to change the walls or the bedding or both, choose the opposite of what you have now. "If you have a dark green bed, then go for all-white bedding and do just a pop of color with one throw pillow," he said.

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