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Better than Botox: Easy Home Makeovers

Friday Aug 2, 2013

Crow's feet? Slather on wrinkle cream. Grey hairs? Get thee to a beauty salon. Pants a bit tight? Do more sit-ups! That's how most of us react to beauty problems: We fix them...or at least fight them with all our might. But what about our homes? Maybe it's a bit down at the heels - the floors, furniture, interior architecture - and we haven't noticed, let alone done anything about it.

Not to worry, says Sally Morse, Director of Creative Services for Hunter Douglas and the design expert on, "There are dozens of ways to update your house that are neither difficult nor time-consuming. A few weekends are all it takes to give it a facelift, and you'll be glowing, too, pleased with the results." Here are some of Morse's suggestions (injections not required):

Walls, Windows and More

The World 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 an episode of "Dynasty," so do the easiest thing: Pull it up and expose what’s beneath, shiny hardwood or polished concrete. Cool on the feet and the eyes. 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 right now, decorating it with a decoupage, stenciling with ready-made motifs from a kit or painting a freehand design.

For something super-easy, add a border to an area rug. Glue-gunning contrasting suede on a sisal for example, not only produces a more expensive appearance, but personalizes it. If you have a "great" room, so prevalent in the early ’90’s, layer rugs atop the bare floor (or the wall-to-wall carpeting if you must keep it), to demarcate different sections for conversation, dining and television viewing. It’s like creating several brand 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 for versatile roman shades for a more formal, yet still leisurely aspect.

"The choices in window fashions these days are astounding," says Morse, "and offer style plus energy-efficiency, as well as a host a host of other benefits. They also diffuse light, imparting a beautifully soft ambience to every room and they’re beautiful themselves as well.

Making your window treatment redo even more current, Hunter Doulgas offers a free Platinum™ App that allows to you control its motorized products by shade, room, time or activity with a mere tap on your Apple® device.

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, which transform harsh sunlight into gently dispersed rays while retaining outside views and indoor privacy. You can also make windows seem wider and taller by mounting window treatments outside the window frame.

We all know that kitchens are among the first rooms to show their age. One way to fix them up is to reface cabinet doors. There are a variety of stylish facades available that are installed over existing frames for a perfect fit and enhanced functionality, and you can customize many details, too, 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
Whether it’s because they were built when cost was an issue or an absence of imagination, many older homes lack molding. Similar to window dressings, molding provides the polished detailing that gives any room the designer touch.

"When it comes to selecting the motif, think about the overall feel of the room," advises Morse. "You wouldn’t want molding à la the Palace of Versailles in an airy loft or something plain in a palatial salon. They should complement each other." Also, the key to selecting the right ones is that they be proportional to both the size of the room and the height of the ceiling. Check home design websites for inspiration and guidelines or hand your questions over to the store’s design team.

Look for everything from rosettes to encircle a ceiling’s hanging light fixture to baseboards, and trim for ceilings, doors and windows. Some are cut from wood, others of plaster or man-made materials such as polyurethane. For sure, there is a wide spectrum available for every budget and decorating preference.

Color Me Barbra

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." So rifle through your favorite shelter magazines or design sites and pick a more contemporary new palette. It can completely transform a room’s mood from yesterday to today. If a total overhaul is too radical for the moment, try painting one accent wall, perhaps in the niche of a large room to establish a cozy spot for reading.

You could also paint the trim - molding, fireplace mantel and surround, wainscoting and paneling, only those parts you want to bring attention to or all of it - or just the doors, and then embellish them with distinctive door knobs. These days there’s everything from faceted, gem-like crystals to colorful resin to silver, nickel and brass.

Good colors to use for trim range from 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 "fifth wall," as Morse calls the ceiling. Whether paint, wallpaper or gold or silver leaf, a subtle pattern or sheen lifts the eyes up and accentuates the height of a room, "something most old houses need," she notes.

Your Own Special Touch
Just as you accessorize your wardrobe to suit your lifestyle, do the same with your home. Old-fashioned bedside table left over from childhood? Replace it with a clean-lined chair or stool with a flat, wide seat, marvelous for holding a small lamp, clock and water glass. Victorian-era bathroom? Paint the claw-footed tub, and slipcover a chair with terrycloth to match - very spa-like and fun.

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). Morse heard from New York-based decorator Eric Cohler, who favors this approach, that, "... the subtle contrasts between light and dark hues make them tend to dissolve into one another, creating a visual effect similar to a solid," but oh so much more interesting!

Were you willed a set of damask-upholstered, gilded chairs from the 1800’s? 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 for sure, break up suites of furniture. Nothing is more yesterday than matchy-matchy, be it in the living-, dining- or bedroom.

"There’s nothing like changing the décor to update an entire house!" says Morse. "And be brave. Unlike a real facelift, much of what you do in your home can be easily and inexpensively changed if need be."


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