Decorating

Decorating: Where to scrimp, when to splurge

 

Akron Beacon Journal

When it comes to decorating our homes, our choices are many.

From flea markets to furniture stores, from Costco to custom manufacturers, sources abound for furniture and accessories that can add function and style to our rooms.

But with so many price points to choose from, how do we know where to spend and where to splurge?

I turned to Lauri Ward for guidance.

Ward is the mother of interior redesign, the concept of decorating by rearranging and reusing things you already own. She’s president of Use What You Have Interiors, a design firm in Boca Raton and New York, and the founder with her husband of the Interior Redecorators Network (www.interiorredecorators.com), an organization of decorators who are trained and certified in her methods. She’s also written four books on interior redesign, including Use What You Have Decorating and Downsizing Your Home With Style.

As the nature of her work implies, Ward doesn’t advocate spending with abandon. Many times, you can find what you need just by “shopping” your own home, she said. It just requires developing an ability to look at your possessions with new eyes and see their potential.

But sometimes, she said, paying more for good-quality pieces is a smart investment that saves money in the long run.

“If you get good basics and classic pieces … they will just always hold on,” she said.

Ward said she would put money into a good-quality seating in clean-lined, classic styles and solid colors — no exaggerated rolled arms, no plaids or prints that won’t stand the test of time. You can always update sofas and chairs with inexpensive throw pillows that can be replaced or recovered whenever your tastes change.

Ward believes armless chairs are smart for the living and dining rooms, especially in smaller spaces. Armless dining chairs let you fit two people at each end of the table on holiday dinners, she noted. In the living room, armless upholstered chairs take up less space than bigger chairs with arms, and you can get into them from three sides, not just one.

She’d also invest in a sturdy bench for its versatility. It can go in your living room, in your entry or at the end of your bed, and it can be moved into the dining room for extra seating when company comes. She prefers an unupholstered bench, because it’s more durable and flexible than an upholstered one.

And don’t cut corners when it comes to beds, she said. As with seating pieces, choose something with clean lines and classic styling. It’s much cheaper to update with bed linens than to buy new.

So where can you scrimp?

Accessories are a good place, she said — things like accent pillows, picture frames and decorative items that can be replaced when styles change without great expense. You can even buy different covers for throw pillows so you can change your room with the seasons, she said.

Rugs are another good place to save, Ward said. It’s cheaper to change a rug than a roomful of furniture, yet a new rug can give a room a new style direction or color scheme. And decent rugs can be had without a big financial outlay, she said.

Ward thinks repurposed pieces are also a great way to save. Accent pieces such as occasional tables and lamps can be had for a bargain at tag sales, estate sales, thrift shops and similar sources, and sometimes the quality is equal to or better than pieces purchased new.

A small chest with either drawers or shelves hidden by doors is an especially good investment, she said. It can be used as an entry table, a bar or an accent table.

Pieces with air underneath are smart buys, too, because that open area is potential storage space, she said. Put an attractive basket under an end table, for example, and you have a place to keep magazines, electronic gadgets or anything else you need to store.

Don’t be deterred by out-of-date styling or an unattractive finish. “You put some white paint on it, and suddenly it looks fabulous,” she said.

But do look for matching pairs, she advised. Ward is a proponent of what she jokingly calls the Imelda Marcos rule, named for the former Philippine first lady and infamous shoe hoarder: You can never have too many pairs.

Pairs, she said, give balance to even the most awkwardly laid out room and satisfy our innate need for symmetry. So by using pairs of chairs, end tables, pillows, lamps and other items, we can make our rooms more pleasing to the eye and comfortable to be in.

And that’s what decorating should be all about.

Read more Home & Garden stories from the Miami Herald

  • Washington Report

    A creative way to reach a home sale

    Interest rate buy-downs, long used by home builders, are gaining traction in the resale market.

  •  
AT HOME for release JULY 2014 BY DESIGN Caption 05: Metallics, particularly gold, continue to draw the eye in home decor. A highly polished brass four-post bed with a padded upholstered headboard is a shout-out to '70s chic. The new London collection mixes tradition and Carnaby panache with surfaces that the company calls a mash-up of golds: shiny (but warm) brass, gold-leafed woods and satiny jewel-box cabinetry. The rivet treatment on the Kent buffed-brass chest of drawers echoes nailheads on the tailored upholstered drum ottoman.

    DESIGN TRENDS

    Practitioners of ‘modern’ design are softening their traditional starkness

    For minimalists, even a whisper of decoration is like a flaw on an otherwise perfect diamond. But one reason that a more modern aesthetic currently is appealing to a broader segment of consumers is because it’s showing a softer side. That may translate to a loosening of form or color — both unabashed and subtle — where something more neutral is expected.

  •  
Crate & Barrel’s Bowery queen bed has drawers underneath for storage

    Interior design

    Need more storage? Might have to sleep on that

    Restoration Hardware’s catalogs might be getting bigger, but its furniture, if you can believe it, is shrinking. In 2012, the retailer responded to growing demand for lighter, leaner pieces by introducing a line of scaled-down furnishings. This year, its Small Spaces catalog is organized by city and residence, such as Los Angeles Bungalow or Boston Brownstone.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category