Peggy Berk

Article Summary:

Not every interior redesign has to involve a major decorating project; Here are some small steps that can have a big design impact on your home.

Interior Redesign: How Small Design Changes Make a Big Impact

Your home is a big part of your life and a comfortable, inviting space can really make a difference in how you feel every day. Keep in mind that not every interior redesign has to involve a major project. Rethinking a room or how you function within your home, or just looking at a room from the perspective of your guests, is sometimes all it takes to make the small changes that have a big impact.

So, broaden your perspective on interior redesign and try some of my favorite small ways to make a big difference in your home.

1.  Designate a space for clutter and resolve to keep it cluttered.
Surprised? While it’s true most people would put getting rid of clutter at the top of their lists, I’ve been in enough homes to understand that if clutter is part of your lifestyle, it will just keep coming back.  I do, however, believe that it’s possible to control the impact of clutter in your home – and it’s simple. Choose a spot that’s not visible from the public areas of your home  and designate a surface, chest or cabinet of some sort for the paper and other things  that usually end up in piles all over your home. Give yourself permission to toss anything you don’t want to deal with immediately into your clutter area without even thinking about organizing, filing or putting it away later.

Trust me, if you have no area for clutter you will spontaneously make one, and another, and another. If you have a designated area, it will contain the clutter and keep you from feeling overwhelmed by it. You’ll have a much easier time with everything in one spot when you do decide to sort it all out  and, in the interim, at least you will know where to find everything you can’t find.

2.  Try at least one new color in your home to break your  “color habits”.
Be bold, do something unexpected or something you’ve always wanted to try.  If you are really hesitant, put the color inside a closet door – somewhere where you can see and react to it.  The room which makes me smile in my home is one in which the painter made a mistake and used a color that I never would have chosen for myself. As I was awaiting his return visit for a repainting, I discovered that every time I walked into the room it made me smile.  The room has been repainted a few times over the years, but always with what I call “my happy mistake.”

3. Pick the room or area in your home in which you find it hard to relax and do three things to make the room quieter.
For example, think about replacing high contrast colors with a monochromatic scheme or toning down the color with a more muted version. Try simplifying the lines in the room and paring down accessories. Get those bookcases in shape, with all books flush to the front of the shelves in size order, and create some empty wall and tabletop space where the eye can rest.  

4. Conversely, pick one room or area in your home that feels bland and the most uninteresting and do three things to elevate the tempo and energize the room.
Try introducing higher contrast or bolder colors. Layer in accessories,  some interesting coordinated fabrics in the form of throws and pillows,  and some new textures.  Replace large artwork with a grouping that will add motion to the room.

5. Make at least four changes in your home to freshen it up for the spring and summer.
Change or reduce the number of layers in your window treatment to let more of the outside in. Do what your grandmother did – use lighter slipcovers on upholstery and seasonal accessories such as bowls of fresh summer fruit and vases of fresh flowers. Pick up those heavy rugs. Now is the time to send them out for cleaning. Replace them with light floor cloths or leave the floors bare for a cooling sensation underfoot.

6.  Rethink the least used room or area in your home.
It may be great to look at, but if it isn’t serving any function,  you can do better.  Is its formality no longer appropriate for your lifestyle? Are your college-aged kids really going to miss the playroom? Should you have retired that home office when you retired?

7.  Walk  through your home room by room and consciously gauge its impact on your senses by isolating various aspects of the experience.
What do you see, hear, smell?  What can you touch? How does it make you feel? Make adjustments in each room as needed so that the experience is always pleasant and inviting, and appropriate for the room and its function.

8.  Create a space just for you.
It can be as simple as a chair in which you can escape with a good book or an entire room. Surround your space in your favorite colors and textures.  Make it a place you can use for your most relaxing activities and the best spot you can imagine for just sitting and doing nothing at all. Sit in you personal space at least 10 minutes every day.

9. Invite guests a least once a month.
When we tidy up for guests,  we reawaken our consciousness of all the little things that we can do to make our home inviting and comfortable, details that often get lost in the chaos of our daily lives. Your guests will feel it, but more importantly, so will you.

Above all, approach the design and decoration of your home with joy. Whether it’s a little change or a major renovation, try to focus, not on the chores involved,  but on the vision you have and the progress you are making toward it. Appreciate the changes, and appreciate yourself for making them.

Peggy Berk, IDS Associate, is an interior decorator who has worked with a wide variety of residential and commercial clients throughout the New York Metropolitan Area and Florida. Her design firm, Area Aesthetics, specializes in interior redesign, home staging and full service interior decorating. Peggy has authored many articles in her area of expertise.

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