Five rules can guide homeowners to room designs with 'staying power'

Jun 29 2011

Switching the accent and wall colors of a room gives a new look to the space.
Switching the accent and wall colors of a room gives a new look to the space.
Philadelphia interior designer Donna Hoffman prides herself on being able to design rooms that have staying power.

The decorator has five rules she considers fool-proof ways for homeowners to quickly change the look of a room that will keep it fresh and appealing.

Her first rule is to "deconstruct" the existing color palette rather than changing it altogether. For instance, if blue doesn't work any longer as the main wall color, it can become the accent hue instead. Flipping main and secondary colors in a room allows homeowners to retain major furnishings that go with them.

Once a new accent color is chosen, it's time to neutralize the room by taking out other strong colors that will compete with it.

"This includes removing area rugs, throw pillows, accessories, dated wallpapers - anything that sings too loudly in the old color palette," Hoffman told The Herald in Rock Hill, South Carolina. "Keep only the 'new' accent color, letting everything else go neutral. By project's end, you'll be left with an accent color that gorgeously pops amidst a new palette of neutrals."

Throw pillows are the focus of rule three. In Hoffman's opinion, an inexpensive way to reinvigorate older upholstered furniture is to use a variety of neutral colored accent pillows in different shapes and sizes.

Hoffman's rule number four calls for window treatments that look tired to be replaced with another style in the best quality that homeowners can afford.

"Custom draperies give tremendous aesthetic return on the dollar," said the designer. "But if custom is out, then to go for the best quality you can afford at retail."

Making a window a focal point in a room is easy considering the number of treatments available. From the rich traditional look of wooden blinds - available also as faux wood blinds in many colors - to stylish roman shades in a variety of fabric textures, homeowners have a wide range from which to choose.

Finally, when deciding how to update a room in which a sofa is a major component, Hoffman advises toning down a brightly patterned or colored sofa with neutral pillows. But she cautions that's it is difficult to camouflage worn-out upholstery or an outdated couch silhouette.

Rule number five: When it's necessary to buy a new sofa, select solid colors in a classic style. "These have the staying power of a little black dress," Hoffman said.
 
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