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1 “Flor carpet tiles—as opposed to wall-to-wall-carpeting—are a good quick fix because you can purchase and install them on your own.”
2 “Rearrange the contents of your shelves. In my living room, I took out all the old paperbacks and yearbooks and put in personal objects—the room was transformed.”
3 If a kitchen or bath remodel is out of the question, replace the hardware on the cabinetry. Think of it as new jewelry. To create a lounge feel in a rarely used kitchen, Don Raney and Jaymes Richardson of Civility Design painted the cabinets a glossy mocha brown and completed the look with Lucite pulls. For the bathroom vanity of a fashion-minded client, they used hardware reminiscent of a belt buckle.
4 Use lacquer on dated wood furniture to modernize it. For a client who wanted to update her dining room without overhauling it, decorator Laura Soskin kept the existing traditional table but lacquer-finished the chairs in black and re-covered the seats in a modern lime green. The designers at Hudson Home updated a sad-looking mid-20th-century dresser with a coat of white lacquer.
5 Make a statement with a pair of big planters with date palms in them. For a touch of drama, interior designer Carole Post suggests putting one on each side of a dining room, on opposite sides of the table—“You can get the same effect as a sculpture without spending as much.”
6 Use organized clutter to make a modern space feel less austere. To “clutter up” a dining room that was looking too sleek, interior designer Stephanie Wohlner filled a contemporary sideboard with stacks of country-feeling dishes in yellows and creams. “For a similar look you could use a shorter stacking bookcase or a shelving system,” she says.
7 Replace a boring flush-mount light fixture with a chandelier. Decorator Anne Coyle designed her own chandelier made of hand-pitted wrought iron that she has used to enliven many a space.
8 Use bold black-and-white art to create drama in a room that might otherwise look staid. For a young Chicago couple who wanted a traditional look that wasn’t stodgy, Stephanie Wohlner used some traditional silhouettes, such as a wing chair, but with exaggerated proportions. Then she pushed the room to the modern side with a bold black-and-white diptych painting over the fireplace—“If you’d had an oil painting of the Tuscan countryside in its place, the room would have looked completely different.”
Photography: (Item 1) Courtesy flor.com; (Item 2) Jon Miller/Hedrich Blessing; (Item 4) Millicent Wong; (Item 10) Boodalee pattern courtesy 2modern.com; (Item 12) Wayne Cable/Cable Photo; (Item 13) Linda Oyama Bryan