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slides: DESIGN LINE: 10 Ways To Freshen Up Your House On a Budget

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


Last week, I asked my Facebook following what they’d like to hear from me in this column. After all, I am writing this for all of you! The most popular response was from people who don’t have a lot to spend but want to make a big impact, so this week, I’m going to share my thoughts on that. I must also share that I am a big proponent of buying locally. Not all of this list subscribes to that mantra because many times that means paying more. But please consider that when you buy locally, you are indirectly affecting your own economy as well. Happy freshening!


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Envelop your space

A deep color is an incredibly effective way to dramatically change your space.  Darker colors create drama, so don’t be scared of them.  You may have seen my column on paint colors last year, where I showcased this picture of Sherwin Williams color “Caviar”.  Trust me--this color makes this room.  Now, the air quality alert comes up:  Sherwin Williams may have trouble making this color VOC-free, so buy a different brand (like Benjamin Moore’s Natura).  They can match up the color and keep the chemicals out of your air.

Interior Design: Ramsey Interiors

Photo: Matt Kocourek


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Hang Sheers

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to shut out the world with opaque shades in every room. If you add a light-colored, romantic sheer on top of that dark, dramatic paint, you’ll have a room that just about anything will look good in.  Sheers can be super sexy and peak curiosity, so play that up.  In terms of budget, I think West Elm has a great selection of hardware and drapes for great prices.  For about $200 per window, you can buy the hardware and the sheers, and all you’ll have to do is hang them up.

Photo: www.westelm.com

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Add Funky Mirrors

A mirror may be a tried and true designer tip, but I am telling you--it works.  A mirror does double duty by adding art and depth to a room simultaneously.  Add to that a design in the mirror, and you have gotten three for one.  Mirrors like these, from Ballard Designs, can completely transform a room for a small price.  In this case, a set of two is only $229.

Photo: www.ballarddesigns.com

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Aim High

Far too often, people only have furniture at one height.  Imagine your interior space as a city skyline where the eye is lifted up and down as it passes through.  Achieving height is crucial to making this plan effective.  One of my favorite pieces for adding height is a vertical bookcase.  This one, from Design Within Reach comes in two heights, $198 and $298 respectively.  When full, it’s an amazing conversation piece as people are in awe of how you manage to keep that many books from falling over.  And you can use them in the bathroom for towels, by the fireplace for wood, or think up your own clever ways to put them to use.

Photo: www.dwr.com

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One Accent Color

If you are on a budget and you want to change things up, try spending your money on one accent color alone;  perhaps two that are close in hue, like the plum and red shown here.  Whether at flea markets, yard sales or at your local stores, buy a few bold accessories.  Just 5 items of the same color in the same room will transform your space.   Remember the interior skyline when you are doing this: a rug on the floor plus a few pillows a bit higher plus a tall lamp plus a piece of art on the wall and you’ve rounded your space from low to high.

Design by Kelly Taylor Interior Design; photo: Nat Rea

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Use What You Have

If you don’t yet know about www.kreatelier.com, I am happy to introduce you.  Proprietors Pernilla and Line will take the old chair you were thinking of tossing on the street and turn it into a one-of-a-kind gem for any room of your home.  Imagine this dingy chair becoming the conversation piece in your living room.  With myriad interesting fabrics and a unique creative eye, these ladies will completely recreate the most tired items you have for much less than the cost of something new.

Photo courtesy of Kreatelier

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Add Graphic Interest

The chairs on the previous slide definitely fit this bill.  Another easy way to light up a room is with a bold, graphic rug.  In this room, the table and chairs are also vibrant, so the walls are neutral.  Just as easily, the walls could be a vibrant color, and the table and chairs could be virtually anything.  In other words, take the furniture you already have, and put a bold rug underneath it.  You’ll be shocked at how much this changes the space.  This 100% 5’ x 8’ wool rug from www.cb2.com is only $349.

Photo: www.cb2.com

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Shop Consignment

This may sound obvious, but so often we forget to recycle what is already out there.  The best new store of this kind in Providence is housegalleryri.com.  Proprietor Kate Keizler has stocked this place with amazing finds for near ridiculous prices.  The ottoman pictured is a mere $72.00 and in perfect condition!  If you need to add some cute furniture on a budget, here’s a way to do it, buy local and recycle.  These are purchases you can feel triply good about.

Photo courtesy of Kreatelier

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Choose Accessories Well

One thing I know is that it’s easy to walk in a home store and buy up $200 worth of “stuff” that won’t make a difference in the bigger picture of how your house feels.  Rather than stock up on candles, and cute serving trays, spend $200-$500 at a time on big items that you will really feel the effects of.  This is the same theory I bring to clothing--spend the most on what’s on the outside; underwear is not what most people are looking at!  A lamp, a piece of art, a funky bookcase, a small table--all of these items can be useful and visual aids to making your house feel more like home.

Handblown glass lamps by Tracy Glover,  www.tracygloverstudio.com

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Kyle Hoepner Says...

I am going to leave you with some great advice from Kyle Hoepner, the Editor in Chief of New England Home Magazine. “Treating just one wall--or even a portion of one wall--in a special way can create a center of attention that transforms the feel of the entire space. This works best if you then arrange furniture and art in front as a formal display.” Kyle recommends:

  • Wallpaper only the recessed niches on either side of your fireplace or line them with panels of mirror.

  • Hang ceiling-to-floor sheers behind your sofa and its flanking end tables, leaving the rest of the wall exposed (or run the sheers all the way across).

  • Line one end of the room with cork, or upholster it in burlap, and create a gallery wall of your paintings, drawings, and photography.

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I love hearing what you want to know.  Please, feel free to post on my Facebook page anything you’d like to see written about in this column.  I’ll put a call out every now and then, but my page is open to wall posts, so bring on your ideas, questions and what’s making you crazy at home or at work!

Kelly Taylor has 15 plus years of experience in the field of interior design.  She is the 2012 recipient of New England Home magazine’s “5 Under 40” award for excellence in design as well as Rhode Island Monthly magazine’s 2012 Gold Award for residential interior design.  She practices residential and commercial interior design in Providence, Rhode Island.  Please find her on twitter at @ktidnet, visit her website at www.ktid.net or check her out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KellyTaylorInteriorDesign.


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