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January 28, 2011 > Real rooms for real people

Real rooms for real people

A new look doesn't have to cost a lot of money

You want a new look in your home, but you don't want to spend a lot of money. In this column, I'll give you suggestions for how to improve the look and feel of your rooms easily and inexpensively. One of the simplest ways to add drama and flare to your home is to paint those white walls. If you are afraid of color, start with tan or taupe. Try Kelly Moore's "Wise Owl", or Sherwin Williams "Bagel." Those colors will provide a nice backdrop for your furnishings and will instantly warm up your room. Once you use color on your walls, you'll never go back to plain white.

Living room: Try a new furniture arrangement. Pull the sofa away from the wall and experiment with angles. Angle the sofa in the corner of the room or try just angling the area rug for a casual, dynamic look. Trade table lamps with those from another room. Maybe the ones in your bedroom would look great in your living room. Place a collection of candles inside your fireplace opening, or decorate the fireplace with a beautiful new screen. Treat yourself to some new throw pillows for your sofa. Add a tall indoor tree behind your sofa or beside your entertainment center to soften the hard edges. Hide your remotes in a beautiful lidded basket or wooden box. Or find a pretty tray to set on top of your coffee table to corral remotes, coaster and other small items. Store your CD's and DVD's in a new storage ottoman that can also be used as extra seating. Add a touch of elegance to your bookcase by displaying only your hardback books. Remove the book jackets to reveal their linen covers and gold lettering.

Dining room: Reupholster your dining room chairs to give them a new look. Consider microsuede fabric for a contemporary look that is also easy to clean. Add some softness to your windows by hanging curtain panels. Create a centerpiece with an odd number of pillar candles of varying heights placed on a tray or platter, surrounded by items such as polished stones, glass marbles, or flowers. Rearrange your china cabinet- remove some of the tiny miscellaneous items and display fewer pieces for an uncluttered look. Display dinner plates on plate stands and use them as backdrops for the crystal goblets.

Kitchen: Pour your dish soap into an attractive stainless steel or ceramic soap dispenser instead of leaving the ugly bottle on your counter. Store as many small appliances as you can to free up counter space and create a clean, uncluttered look. Replace the knobs on just one of your cabinets with some fun, whimsical designs that reflect your personality. Try knobs shaped like golf balls, leaves, dragonflies, even spoons and forks. Treat yourself to colorful new towels and potholders to replace those old, worn ones.

Bathrooms: A vase of fresh flowers from your garden is always a nice touch. One client of mine likes to place small bud vases filled with mini carnations on her bathroom counters. It is charming. As in the kitchen, pour liquid hand soap into an attractive dispenser. Update your cabinet knobs. Hang a beautiful art print. Treat yourself to a new shower curtain and new bath towels.

Bedroom: Display only 1-3 items on your dresser. Add candles and flowers for ambiance. Create more room on your nightstand by replacing your table lamps with wall-mounted lamps. Purchase 3-5 throw pillows in colors that coordinate with your bedspread. Create a headboard by hanging drapery panels on a rod on the wall behind your bed. Or create a headboard with paint and molding-paint a large rectangle the width of your bed and a couple of feet taller than your bed in a contrasting color. Apply trim molding to the edges to finish off the look. Replace the ceiling fixture with a pretty hanging pendant or chandelier.

Anna Jacoby of Anna Jacoby Interiors is a local interior designer. Send your design questions to her at Call or fax her at 510-490-0379 or visit

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