The overnight home renovation: Presto Chang-o!

April 4th, 2008 by Heather Dyer

Changing a space from boring and outdated to sleek, comfy, and modern is literally as easy as 1, 2, 3.  Well, and four.
#1.  Paint
#2.  Trim
#3.  Light
#4.  Accessorize

This formula isn’t news by any means, but its true simplicity is often over looked.  Updating a living room, bedroom, or entire floor seems like something that could cost tens of thousands and take months on end.  And while it certainly can be a project of that magnitude, so long as you have a few essentials, such as decent cabinetry and doors, with a few hundred dollars and two to three concentrated weekends, you can be enjoying a seemingly brand new area in no time.

#1.  Paint:
Paint selection should bring corners and bends to life with a combination of contrast and blend.

Paint application is not meant to be a cover-up – it is meant to enhance the existing elements of your room.  In other words, don’t use paint in place of spackle.  Take the time to prep your walls by hand.  Use a six inch carpenter’s tape knife and run across the entire surface of the room to remove nicks, previous paint drips, and unwanted nails and screws.  Remove unsightly baseboards and trim during this step.  Then, using the same knife (or larger, depending on need), apply joint compound to holes and areas where defects were removed.  Add strength to corners by applying coats of compound to both angles.  Allow to fully dry and hit each patch with a 220 grit sanding block (or if necessary, such as for ceilings, a sanding pole).  Repeat process until walls are completely ready for paint. 

Blue painter’s tape is the 8th wonder of the world in my book.  With extra care given to precise application, tape desired corners and seams.  Cut-in first with a wedge brush and then roll the room to perfection.  Use up and down motion when rolling.  Floor to ceiling, ceiling to floor.  This will help you avoid the “sectioned” look when your paint has dried.  Remove blue tape immediately.  Never allow tape to be left on longer than 24 hours after paint application as adhesion to tape may occur and cause the paint to lift from wall when later removed.

#2.  Trim:
Once paint has dried for 3 to 4 days, add new baseboard and trim.  For a modern look, select a wide variation in paint grade wood and apply a white primer coat before hanging.  Touch up with semi or high gloss paint and caulk.  Be sure that all trims in room are the same color of paint or shade of stain.

#3.  Light:
Consider replacing existing light fixtures with updated models for a quick and painless way to complete your work.

#4.  Accessorize:
Like a great frame on a beautiful print, no room is finished until properly accessorized.  Depth and texture can be easily accomplished by exercising care with the placement of furniture and using plants to give height where it is needed.  But don’t get carried away: “less is more” is a great rule of thumb when it comes to interior decorating.  If space permits, consider positioning just one item of large furniture (preferably a chair, love seat, or table) at an off angle from the rest of the arrangement.  This gives the illusion of a much more spacious area.

Remember the three P’s of accessorizing: 
– pictures
– plants
– pillows

Pictures should be hung at eye level and if furniture is all the same height, consider adding a floor lamp or tall candle sticks next to them to break up the height monotony.   Plants will add a boost of fine elegance and refinery like no other accessory.  Consider purchasing upscale silk plants and silk flower arrangements as a long term investment.  The only thing that looks worse than no plants is a dead and wilted one with brown crispy leaves.  Pillows are such an inexpensive accessory, yet, take them out of the room, and most of the color goes with them.  Determine the colors you intend to use as accents to your walls and furniture and select six to eight pillows of varying size and pattern and place them as you wish, randomly or uniformly, on your couches and chairs.  A rug that coordinates with your pillows will be the perfect “tie together” for the whole room – especially if it carries the main accent color of the room.

And there you have it, the “few hundred bucks PRESTO CHANGE-O”!!  Now all you need is an excuse to throw a bash so you can share your enjoyable results with your friends and family.

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