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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Does Your Family Room Need a Rescue? By Jen Griswold--Vacaville Home Stager/Interior Redesigner

Often I get asked, “What do most people hire you for?” And the reply is always an easy answer. Hands down, our most common job is the redesign of a family room. Along with the kitchen, the family room is “the heart of the home.” It is where families spend the majority of their time when they are home together. It is usually designed to appeal to each member of the family and it is where just about everything happens: TV watching, children playing with toys, reading, lounging, collection displaying, and more. All that activity usually comes along two of our dreaded nemeses: messes and clutter. Once you have messes and clutter in front of you, it is hard to see past them to the potential that lies beneath. That is often when our business, Cozy Chic Design, gets a call.

Over the course of the many family room redesigns, my decorating partner and I have noticed five similar decorating faux pas emerge in a good majority of homes. The following are the most common decorating problems we see in many family rooms:

1. The walls are the wrong color.

As designers, when we assess a space the first thing we look at is wall color. The wrong color can have a huge negative impact, while the right color can really make a room come together. The color choice should be based on the color palette of the furnishings, as well as on the mood you want to inspire in the room. In my home the family room serves as a place to nestle in for the night and enjoy a good movie, play a children’s game, or to just lie on the couch and watch a movie. The room on its own is fairly dark without artificial light, so to combat the shadows and invoke that “comfy, cozy” feel I want, I painted the family room in a creamy beige with a hint of gold in it to lighten and soften the darker corners. Together with my accent colors of white, hazel and a little black, the room has a very calming and relaxing feel.

2. The furniture is not arranged around one focal point.

Once you have the wall color right, the next major item to look at is the furniture arrangement. The pitfall we see over and over again in houses is that the furniture is incorrectly arranged because there is a lack of a defined focal point. Many times in a family room, the natural focal point is the fireplace. However, with the inception of flat screen TVs, there is now some focal point competition in the room. What do you arrange your furniture around -- The TV or the fireplace? The easiest way to solve the problem is to marry the two together by placing your TV above the fireplace. However, if that is not possible because of heat or wiring problems, then pick whichever is the most important and arrange everything around it. Or, think outside the box, and if your room is large enough, create two spaces that give due attention to each focal point.

3. There are not enough natural outdoor elements in the room.

The next error commonly made in family room is forgetting to add a touch of life. Almost all rooms can be improved by adding some greenery to them. You can find plant-life in any style, shape or texture. Add faux greenery if you don’t have a green thumb. And if you aren’t a plant person you can add rocks, twigs, wreaths, or pine cones. Any way you do it, by bringing some of the outdoor elements inside, you’ll add a layer of ambience that makes people want to come, sit down and share in your family room experience.

4. The room has nice accessories, but the room still does not look “coordinated.”

Finally, what most clients need help with is in proper placement of their accessories. Many people have purchase beautiful items for their room, but cannot figure out how to place them together harmoniously -- upon a shelf, table or wall. They need some help making their room come together. The art of placing accessories can not be easily explained in a short paragraph. It requires some instruction on what is pleasing to the eye, and practice with accessories to get the hang of how to repeat the process over and over again.

5. Homeowners think that buying something new will “fix” their room, rather than finding the answer in rearranging, repurposing and reusing good items they already own.

Most people do not have it in their budget these days to completely redecorate an entire space. However, we find many homeowners continue to acquire things in the quest to make their space better. We recommend you stop spending your money on “things” and invest it in decorating education where you can learn a 5-step process to decorating that will help you beautify EVERY room in your home and many rooms into the future.

For homeowners interested in attending a one-day course to learn more about how to “do-it-yourself” the next class on the “Art of Redesign” will be held on March 27th from 9 AM-2 PM here in Vacaville. You can call 707-447-0977 for more details or to register for the course. The class sizes are limited so that each student gets plenty of hands-on practice and instruction. Each attendee will walk away from the class with the confidence to recognize and fix what is wrong with their own family room and how to help others fix theirs!