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Issue Date: February 2008


Great Ideas for Home

Our designers show you how to add a wow factor to your home.

Kristen Hampshire
You know when your home’s interior needs a face-lift: Your kitchen shows up on reruns of the “Brady Bunch,” or maybe you drive past a sofa tossed to the curb that could be a twin to your floral-print “classic.” Maybe you’ve been bit by the home-improvement bug. You crave new wall color, fresh window treatments, a bit of spunk for the old master bedroom —nothing big, just something different.

No matter your skill set or price point, there are great ideas to revamp your home. “I often suggest that clients start by taking everything out of a room and painting it,” says Barbara Marcus, showroom manager and assistant buyer at Interior Design Outlet Centre in Cleveland. “Slowly bring furniture back into the room, editing as you go.”

Here, our designers offer a handful of creative ideas for your home. For more tips, browse the Boulevard Idea Design Center at the Home & Garden Show and consult with designers who can steer you in the right direction.

Candy for cabinets
Dress up drab kitchen cabinets by replacing hardware. Brushed nickel, brass, ceramic, glass — these materials add energy to a sterile space. “Hardware is like jewelry,” says Tootsie Nekic, an interior designer for Interior Design Outlet Centre.

“If you had an outfit you wanted to update for a new season, you would change your jewelry,” she reasons. Switching hardware is immediate and simple, requiring only a screwdriver.
Table toppers

If a table base is worth salvaging, but its worn wooden top has expired, you can reinvent the surface without refurbishing it. Just add a granite top.

Visit a supplier such as Cleveland Granite and Marble, where you can choose among an array of granite colors and patterns. No two pieces are the same. Request a beveled or turned edge, Marcus says.

“The top will weigh enough that it will stay stationary on the existing table,” Marcus says, noting that granite is versatile enough to “re-cover” a small side table or grand dining room table.
Fireplace space

“If you’re a real contemporary, there is not a lot of embellishment or characteristic details in a fireplace mantel,” Nekic says. Create a focal point above a mantel with canvases you can make colorful by painting yourself.

Nekic suggests purchasing four square canvases, sized so they match the length of the fireplace when placed two by two. Ultimately, you will create one large square by grouping together the four canvases. You may stack several four-panel groupings to consume white space in rooms with 20-foot ceilings.

Purchase stretch canvases at craft stores, and spray paint them a solid color. Nekic has painted a group of four canvases black, and another grouping lime green. The effect is a stained-glass window look that can pull dominant colors from an accent rug or sofa pillows.
Trading spaces

Grandma’s china cabinet has moved out of the dining room and into the family room. “All of a sudden, that’s the curio cabinet of today,” says Tom Zwierzelewski, director of store display and merchandising for Levin Furniture. In a sitting area, china cabinets hold books, photographs and tokens from vacations — conversation pieces. Filling the dish storage role in the dining room, sideboards and servers — hip-height cabinets — conveniently double as a buffet surface for easy entertaining. “Thus, that whole casual lifestyle,” Zwierzelewski sums up.
Mismatch in the master

Update a matchy-matchy master bedroom set by replacing night stands with accent tables and including an armoire or chest.

Break the monotony by painting a piece, says Linda Runion of roomScapes in Wooster. “Paint a side table to match wallpaper or paint a shelving unit for books and photos,” she suggests.

Prepare furniture first by cleaning the piece with white vinegar and sanding lightly. Then prime and coat it with paint. “You can get wild with paint,” Runion encourages. Animal prints are not off limits. “It’s an accent.”
A new look for lamps

Improve an outdated lamp by switching the shade. Today you see fewer drum shades and more geometric options, such as rectangles and squares, Runion says. “You’ll find more natural textures with darker colors — not the shiny white and ivory we are used to seeing,” she notes.

Still, for modernists, a stark white shade pairs well with newer lamp bases in bright colors, including lime green and red.

A statement for windows

Add interest to a curtain rod with bejeweled or sculpted finials. “This is a chance to dress up a window treatment,” Marcus encourages. You’ll find leaves, glass ornaments, sunbursts studded with gems, or more modern, curvy hardware.

Meanwhile, dress those large, Palladian windows without completely blocking sunlight with a single, airy panel of fabric drawn to one side. Leave the crescent-shaped transom window open, Nekic says.
Add snap to a tired sofa

A neutral couch will benefit from a few accent pillows or an interesting throw. Choose one patterned pillow and pair it with two solids. “Three pillows give you a more contemporary look, and on a more traditional sofa you’ll find a pair,” Runion says.

Don’t forget to balance that shot of color on the couch with a vase or piece of art elsewhere, she reminds.

If you choose to re-cover the sofa, you can cheat by converting pretty fabric into a slipcover. “You can make slipcovers out of anything,” says DesAnn Collins, owner of Design by DesAnn in Elyria. “Don’t look at a shower curtain as a shower curtain. Think of it as material.”
A better backsplash

Today’s tile selection offers a palette of materials and colors to play with. Create a design for a kitchen or bathroom backsplash. Mix tiny mosaics into square limestone or travertine. Opt for glass-block or granite tiles.

This project requires a design plan and expertise in cutting and laying tile. Hire a professional if you do not feel confident.

Want a do-it-yourself, whimsical backdrop to fill space between countertops and cabinets? Collins suggests “tiling” the area with framed rectangular photos, cherished recipes and artwork. “If your style changes, you can quickly switch the backsplash art,” she says.

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