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Archive for Sunday, January 17, 2010

Home work: Restage your house with what’s on hand

January 17, 2010

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Laura Tiffany moves a hallway table, top, to a new location behind a couch to add display and storage space.

Laura Tiffany moves a hallway table, top, to a new location behind a couch to add display and storage space.

Using the same table adds some new display and storage furniture to a spot behind a couch that was empty and not being utilized.

Using the same table adds some new display and storage furniture to a spot behind a couch that was empty and not being utilized.

The holidays are over. You've curbed the Christmas tree, stowed the snow village and turned out the twinkling lights. Suddenly, your house looks bare, bland and boringly blah.

That's why January is the perfect time to give your home an interior makeover, a process professionals call redesign.

"Redesign is the art of taking what you have and repurposing it - looking at it with new eyes," explains Laura Tiffany, a trained redesigner and home stager. "It's really difficult to do in your own home; it's much easier to do with somebody else. In your own home, you put something someplace and, in your mind, that's where it belongs. But somebody else can come in and say, 'Hey, that nightstand would make a great end table' or 'that lamp would really work better in here.'"

Tiffany says in order to remedy and refresh a problem room, you have to create a clean slate.

"You basically strip a room down of everything that's in it. I don't always do that because, sometimes, the heavy furniture is too hard to move. But, all the accessories, pictures on the wall - everything is taken to another room, which is called your staging area."

Next, you start with the big items, like sofas, easy chairs, hutches and coffee tables, and reposition them in a way to give the room a fresh look and easy flow.

A pair of wall shelves create multiple areas to design and display collections of items including books, plates and candles.

A pair of wall shelves create multiple areas to design and display collections of items including books, plates and candles.

"A lot of times, people will think the sofa has to go along the long wall, when it often looks better on the short end of the room, if there's room to work around the ends," Tiffany says. "And by angling furniture, you can make a room look entirely different. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. You just have to play."

Tiffany also recommends pulling sofas and chairs away from walls and windows for a different feel in a room.

Rynette Reiling, design consultant at Winfield House, says furniture arrangement can be especially challenging for people who own oversized pieces.

"There was a phase a few years ago when we all bought big, big furniture," Reiling says. "They really don't give you a lot of choices. If you can take those pieces to the basement rec room, they tend to fit better."

Once the basic floor plan is established, smaller items can be moved back in, but not always the same things that came out of the room originally.

"We use the term 'shopping,'" says Tiffany. "We 'shop' the house. We go through all the other rooms, looking for items that would fit in the space that we're redoing - like tables, pictures, lamps, sofa pillows, throws - anything to give the room we're working on a new look."

A small oblong table, once used as a buffet in the dining room, for instance, can become a sofa table. Family pictures, formerly hung on a hallway wall, can become the focal point of a mantle. Rugs and some curtains can be swapped as well.

Another common problem is that some homeowners tend to have too much stuff. Experts say you have to edit the clutter from a room before you can see the possibilities.

A mantel is decorated for the holidays.

A mantel is decorated for the holidays.

The mantel is re-decorated after the holidays with a simple collection of framed photos in black and white.

The mantel is re-decorated after the holidays with a simple collection of framed photos in black and white.

"I tell people to really evaluate the space, in terms of what you want to keep," Reiling says. "Put out three boxes - one for things they're going to keep; one for things they're going to donate and a third for things they're going to keep because they're sentimental or archival, but they're going into storage. If there's too much, you have to clean it out and simplify it."

Sometimes, certain pieces just have to go because they're too worn, don't fit the homeowner's changed taste or no longer serve a purpose.

"If a piece is in good shape, I refer people on to resale shops," Reiling says. "Or put it in the paper and sell it, and put the money towards something that works better for you. People need to remember, they can do it in stages, as finances allow. You don't have to do everything all at once. You just need a plan."

And you don't have to make over the whole house or even an entire room to get an appealing new look.

"I have three top areas I like to focus on after the holidays," she says. "I call them my 'quick fixes': the mantle, the entry table and a sofa table. Those are the three true focal points people notice when they come into your home. If you can rework those, it'll give you that wow factor again without having to overhaul everything."

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