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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interior Redesign: An Eco-Chic Recession Revelation

Now that winter is coming to an end your household may be feeling in need of a little spring spruce-up.
• Is your house in disarray from winter activities?
• Could it use a little pick-me-up?
• Do you have home improvements you want to make, but you're strapped for cash?

If you are like most Americans these days, concerns like this run through your mind on a regular basis. With all these issues to choose from, what is your priority this spring? As we feel the effects of the financial crisis, I suggest that we “resolve” to rethink how we spend our pennies on household items. By going “back to the basics,” and getting creative with household items we already own, we can achieve an eco-chic look in the process.

My inspiration to get “back to the basics” came to me recently as I picked up my 3-year old son up from preschool. As we hopped in the car and began reviewing what he had done in school that morning, he began to sing a catchy tune about the “4 Rs,”…reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. I hadn’t realized that we had graduated from three Rs to four, so I was happy to listen and learn from his entertaining melody! The more I processed the words he eloquently recited; I realized that a vital “R” was missing from the song.

The missing R stands for “redesign” and quite simply is the principle of decorating or furnishing your space (indoors or out) with items that you already own. Also known as “One Day Decorating®,” interior redesign has become the inspiration for several entertaining shows on HGTV® (Design Remix®, Design on a Dime®, etc.). The basic rule behind it is to use what you already own to redecorate a space. Often, this means rearranging, repositioning, and repurposing items to make an efficient use of space and accessories. As a home stager and designer, I’m amazed at how people often think that the way to solve all their design problems is simply to buy something new. In fact, I’ve witnessed that those who are avid shoppers have the most cluttered houses because they cannot find appropriate spaces for all their purchases. In true redesign, a person only buys what is absolutely necessary to fulfill the function and look of a room; so technically, it is the greenest form of decorating you will find.

It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out how to redesign a space, but it does take some creativity and a little background in the principles of design. The following are several tips for homeowners on how to redesign a space using what you already have:

1) Less Photos
Most people have a plethora of them. However, it is very hard to focus on the emotion in a picture, when there are 15 pictures on a fireplace mantel. Instead, choose your favorite two or three and make a decorative arrangement to highlight them. Put the others away and rotate them throughout the year. Then each photo will get the attention it deserves!

2) Bring The Outdoors In
Take a look around? Does your space have an inviting feel? If not, you can warm up a room with seasonal foliage, just by using what is already growing in your backyard. Fresh cut flowers in a vase, greenery from a blooming bush, or twigs from a winter tree, can all help cozy up your living or dining room.

3) Reuse Linens
Do you have old sheets or draperies that are old, yet still have good wear left in them? Use them to recover your existing couch pillows, or repattern them into a smaller more modern looking window covering. Linens can also easily be sewn into place mats, table runners, or simple art stretched across a wooden frame you can make out of scrap wood in your garage. The possibilities are endless, so think before you throw old linens away!

4) Bargain Furniture
Whether you have too much or too little, there are cheap and easy ways of obtaining or getting rid of furniture pieces. With the economy in a slump, many people look to www.ebay.com, as a tool to bid on all types of furniture. In the local area, you can use www.craigslist.com or www.travisyardsales.com to buy or sell without the cost of shipping. Another creative and environmental local option is www.freecycle.org, where items are posted as an alternative to throwing them away. The best part of this site is that the items are free!

5) Recraft or Upcycle
This is the principle of repurposing items for a use that is better or improved from its original purpose. For instance, maybe you have an empty hand soap dispenser that has a nice contemporary shape. Fill it with colored sand, or some painted dried willow sticks and place it on your dining room table and you will have “upcycled” it into a beautiful decorative piece. If you are not the crafty type, check out designers online who utilize recycled materials, such as www.trashluxe.com or www.catherinehammertonshop.com.

As you can see, there are plenty of creative ways to get a new look by redesigning a space. However, some people will find that they just don’t have the time or mental energy to do it themselves. If that is the case, there are avenues for you to get help. One fun way is to host a Live Room MakeOver party. The concept in this party is similar to that of the traditional Tupperware® party. You invite your friends over for good food and socializing. But what is different about this party is that while you are enjoying your company, a redesigner will work on rearranging, repurposing and revitalizing your room, all while you enjoy time with your friends. It only takes about 20 minutes and then the party concludes with the entire group getting to witness the “Big Reveal” of your redesigned room, just like you would see on TV (see www.cozychicdesign.com for a Good Day Sacramento news clip illustrating the Live Room MakeOver). There is a nominal charge for the redesign and the fun of the party is priceless!

So, again I’ll ask, what is your priority for this spring? In the past, have you been guilty of being an oblivious over-consumer? Could you stand to save a penny and decorate by using what you already have? As Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green.” But using the art of redesign, it is easier than you think. Despite the economic and environmental woes our world is experiencing, there are lots of fun and creative ways to transform our spaces. And if you are not a do-it-yourselfer, there are professionals out there to help you. It may not be easy being green, but with a little initiative combined with my tips on redesign, I hope you’ll at least give it a try!

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