Redecorating With the Furniture You've Got
Want to make over your home without shelling out any cash? Just try playing with the furniture. Meg Mateo Ilasco, author of The Space Planner, shows some easy ways to rearrange rooms into a brand-new look
Plot Your Moves Unless you (or your husband) adore pushing heavy furniture around all weekend, youll save a lot of energy (and spare yourself some back trouble) by planning your changes on paper first.
Start by taking accurate measurements of the room you want to rearrange. Dont forget to note where things like windows, doors, closets and radiators fall. Use a ruler to draw the space on graph paper. Most graph paper is marked with 1/4-inch squares; to make things easy for yourself, make each 1/4-inch square equal 1 foot on your plan. Ilasco recommends you also measure and draw in the transition spaces like hallways and adjoining rooms.
You dont want the room to be an island think of how it looks in unison with connecting spaces, she explains. Next, measure the furniture. Draw each piece to scale on a second sheet of graph paper. Color in each item with colored pencils or Sharpies, then cut out the pieces. Use these paper templates to try out new configurations. Youll see right away, for instance, when a chest of drawers wont fit between two twin beds in your kids room.
Breathing RoomWhen youre rearranging furniture, make sure theres enough leftover space in the room for people to move around comfortably. Heres a cheat sheet for cozy but not cramped arrangements:
Passageways between pieces of furniture should generally be 24 to 36 inches wide.
The distance between the sofa and the coffee table ought to be approximately 9 to 18 inches.
The pullback space for a chair from a table should be 24 to 36 inches.
Break The Rules!Go ahead and tap into your inner rebel when you move around furniture. Ilasco says, Seating does not necessarily have to be aligned in an L-shaped configuration; artwork need not be centered above the sofa; nor must a bed be flanked by a pair of matching end tables. Use a dresser as a bedside table, arrange your living room in a U-shape let your imagination fly!
Capture A ViewMake sitting down more interesting by giving people something to look at. For example, you might position the couch so that people can see your fireplace or catch a gander of your garden.
Divide And ConquerIf you have a really large room, Ilasco recommends creating a more intimate feel by dividing it into different areas for the separate activities that take place in the space. For example, you can have one spot for entertaining and another one for reading. Area rugs are a great way to define spaces.
Dont Be A WallflowerWhenever people dont know where to put their furniture, they end up pushing everything against the walls. While this may seem like the best way to maximize floor space, its not always the most appealing arrangement. Your sofa and armchairs may look better grouped in the center of your living room.
Make A Big GestureGive a small room in your home an element of surprise with one item that really catches the eye, like an oversize piece of furniture or a brightly colored accent. A single bold item adds a new dimension to a small space, which makes it feel larger. Mine your garage, attic and other rooms for potential objects, like an extra-large mirror for a small powder room or a king-size table lamp for a shrimpy guest room.
Find The Right Mirror ImagesCommon wisdom has it that a mirror will make a space seem larger. However, A lot of people dont know what to do with mirrors, warns Ilasco. If you are going to put a mirror in a room, it needs to reflect something. The reflection could be a piece of art or an outside view, but not just a blank hallway.
Mix It UpIf you find that a lot of your furniture is rectangular, introduce an item thats round, like a circular side table. Add fabrics of varying textures to a bed or sofa. Give your senses something to play with.
Light It RightLighting isnt always about making a room bright, counsels Ilasco. Think about the mood you want to achieve in the room. If you want it to be open, bring in as much light as possible. If you want an area to feel cozy, limit daylight with curtains or blinds and use lighting with dimmer switches.
Go White And See-ThroughIf you want a small space to feel bigger, stick with pale tones on the walls and furnishings. Opt for airy furniture made of materials like glass and Lucite that allow light to flow around the room; choose lightweight, flowy fabrics, especially for drapery; and let all the natural light you can into the room.