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One Small Decorating Trick, One Huge Room Improvement


Let's face it: Most of us can't resist a good home decorating show.

And after we've got a few episodes of "ReDesign," "Room by Room" or "Find Your Style" under our tool belts, we feel confident that we, too, can make equally inspired decorating changes in our homes. But where to start?

Here are some simple ways to make big home improvements from some of the nation's top designers and manufacturers:

Kenneth Ludwig -- president and creative director of Kenneth Ludwig Home Furnishings, Ltd. in Chicago -- is a huge proponent of textiles and fabrics. "The addition of two or three pattern fabrics in the same color story, along with different textiles (throws) in great textures adds visual excitement to a room," says Ludwig. "It also softens the edges of the corners and hard lines, and warms up a room to make it more livable."

An additional fabric element that many people forget is adding small upholstered or slip-covered ottomans for additional seating or as decorative items to fill up a room. Ludwig also suggests a skirted table with an under skirt of a plain fabric (great solid color with no pattern) with an additional patterned fabric draped on top.

Decorative wallpaper murals can add pizzazz and personalization to any room. "Adding a wall mural can transform a room from 'fine' to 'fabulous,' " says Todd Imholte, president of Murals Your Way by Environmental Graphics. The company produces a line of custom wallpaper murals (www.muralsyourway.com). "The variety of styles lets you reflect your unique tastes and memories, whether it's with a sports motif in your son's room, a custom mural made from a family photo in your family room, or a wine theme in your kitchen. The possibilities are truly endless."

Steven Southgate couldn't agree more. As design supervisor for "Divine Design with Candice Olson," he has used wall murals several times on the show's room makeovers. According to Southgate, "the Birch Trees and Pebbles murals give a high impact graphic feel, while the Sequoia mural offers outstanding graphics and superb color."

Updating your window treatments can quickly change the look and feel of any room. Ian Gibbs, window treatment design expert and founder of TheShadeStore.com, recommends that your window treatment rod be hung a few inches above the window molding to visually extend the window's height and make the ceiling appear taller. To make windows look bigger and brighten a room, drapes should be hung "wide," outside of the actual window frame, so that when drapes are pushed back, the entire window is visible to maximize the amount of light let in.

Adding greenery is also a nice way to bring the outdoors in and give a feeling of life in a room. Melissa Galt -- interior designer, author, speaker and owner of Melissa Galt Interiors -- suggests you keep it simple by limiting silk florals to no more than one per room. Be more generous with greenery, placing fresh plants on every third shelf of a bookcase, on top of an armoire, or near a hearth or fireplace. Containers can range from bright brass, silvery aluminum and sparkling glass to more casual ceramic or terracotta.

Think ceiling fans are just for summer? Think again. Switch the blade to reverse, and you can pull the hot air down from the ceiling and dramatically reduce your heating bills during the cooler months. Emerson Ceiling Fans product manager Zeynep McLeane sees dark colors and natural finishes as particularly popular this season, with dark finishes such as Oil Rubbed Bronze, Aged Walnut and Bronze Heritage nicely complementing existing dark touches throughout the home in furniture, hardware, plumbing and lighting fixtures.

Speaking of lighting, "jewelry" will be displayed on more than the human body this season. Kichler Lighting's new Light Accents come in 70 different designs, shapes and sizes -- including classic teardrops, organic leaf-forms, grape clusters, beaded crystal strands and Swarovski crystal pendalogues. Attach them to your chandeliers, pendants, wall sconces, lamps, lamp shades -- even curtain rods and candle holders -- to add extra sparkle and let your room glow.

And no interior designer would dispute the value of a simple coat of paint to kick an already nicely designed room up a notch or two. Davis Remignanti of Furniture.com suggests selecting one wall of your room for a quick, total makeover using color and accent pieces.

"Paint the wall with a hue from today's trendy color palette, such as a deep, rich chocolate brown that will pick up the color from your furniture," suggests Remignanti. "Don't be afraid of dark colors for accent walls, especially in rooms with a lot of natural light. Then replace the existing artwork on the wall with a bold, grand scale piece such as the retro prints that are so popular these days, and swap your area rug for one that better picks up the tones in your upholstery.

"These small changes can take your room from already-beautiful to drop-dead gorgeous," he says.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Categories: Home & Household, Just for me,

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