When I was asked to be the keynote speaker at the American Society of Interior Designer’s (ASID) South Florida Chapter’s Membership Appreciation Night this January, I wondered what I could share that would be meaningful to some of South Florida’s most prestigious interior designers. Although I geared my presentation toward the importance of balancing the emotional, psychological and financial issues of homeowners, and building strategic alliances between interior designers and other professionals, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the role that interior design plays in our homes. After all, our homes are one of the most personal expressions of who we are.
Many of us spend a great deal of time and money trying to project an image of ourselves to the outside world. We spend countless hours at the gym, watch what we eat, diet to lose weight, and spend money on clothes, jewelry and fancy cars. We strive to make ourselves look younger, and make decisions daily about what to wear, what to drive, and where to live, in order to feel more comfortable and confident about our personal appearance.
Yet many of us go months, if not years, without thinking about doing even basic preventative maintenance on our homes, let alone making updates or cosmetic improvements. Sometimes the most basic changes can make all the difference in how we feel about the place that we call home.
As a Realtor, I cannot tell you how often I get a phone call from someone who is contemplating selling their house asking me to come over to advise them what to fix or spruce up, in order to make their home more appealing for the potential buyer.
I wonder how long they have been staring at the same old torn screen, cracked floor tiles, and cabinet door that is off the hinge. When was the last time that the paint was touched up or the carpet cleaned? Do we really need to move in order to get rid of furniture that we don’t like or personal items that we don’t need? These are questions I ask myself all the time, when I visit the homes of a potential new client. I have to admit, by the time I get home to my own house, amnesia takes over! For myself, days turn into weeks, months and years. You would think that I should know better!
With Valentine’s chocolates half-eaten and hearts and flowers on our minds, we are reminded to show appreciation for the special people in our lives. This year, in addition to doing something nice for the people I love, I will give some love and attention to my home. If you choose to do the same, here are some tips to help you get started:
NO. 1 – Clean Up Your Act!
Walk around your house with a notepad. Write down everything you see that is either broken, worn or in disrepair. Once you have that list, you can prioritize what you want to fix or replace.
NO. 2 – Accentuate the Positive!
Go from room to room, and think about how you feel. What furniture, knickknacks and personal items appeal to you and make you feel good, and which ones do not. Look at the paint colors, window treatments, and decor as if you were walking into someone else’s home for the first time.
NO. 3 – Size Does Matter!
Furniture can be too big or too small for a room. Your furniture should create a space that is both inviting and functional. There needs to be movement and flow, and should not feel cramped or too empty.
NO. 4 – Let There Be Light!
Lighting is a key element to how we feel about a space. Try not to block natural light with overbearing curtains or furniture. Don’t skimp on adding plenty of well-placed lamps and light fixtures. Dimmers, different types of lamps, and bulb wattage can help to create mood and atmosphere.
NO. 5 – People in Glass Houses!
Dirty windows and glass doors make a house look dingy. Getting the windows professionally cleaned, inside and outside, can make a huge difference.
NO. 6 – Mirror, Mirror on the Wall!
Strategically placed mirrors can add depth, can make a room look larger, can enhance certain features in the room or bring the outside in.
NO. 7 – Stop and Smell the Roses!
If you have pets, ask a very good friend (or your Realtor!) to come to your house and give it the snifftest. Some fixes for pet odors include getting an air purifier, opening windows and doors more often, vacuuming pet hair, and professionally cleaning carpets and upholstery.
NO. 8 – Color My World!
Very few things change the feel of a house more than a change of paint color. If you do decide to paint, spot test the color on a wall and look at it during the day and at night. Colors can look totally different in natural and artificial light. If you don’t want to do anything as drastic as changing the paint color, try some new throw pillows, curtains, area rugs or artwork.
NO. 9 – There’s No Place Like Home!
Your home should reflect your interests, passions and personal taste. Surround yourself with things that you find interesting. Don’t ditch what you like for what is trendy.
NO. 10 – Go Pro!
If you have the resources, consult a professional interior designer, stager or organizer. You would be amazed at how much a professional can actually save you time and money!
NO. 11 – Practically Speaking!
Your furniture, use of space and personal items should not only be attractive, but should be functional. If your space does not work for your family or your lifestyle, don’t be afraid to make some changes. For most of us our homes are one of our biggest investments – financial and emotional. Let’s begin our spring cleaning this Valentine’s Day and remember that home is where the heart is! Laurie Dubow