- Decorating, Home Decorating & Interior Design

Spring Cleaning Your mission: streamline and de-clutter.

At the first sign of Spring, people start thinking about ways to make their homes look fresh and new. It's a great time to inventory what you have and figure out what needs to replaced or even donated. Here are some ideas for updating your home this Spring.

Get a new perspective on your home's style. Of course, you could pay a professional to come in and revamp your home. For several hundred dollars, an interior "visual coordinator" will use what you have and transform the look of your home. Or, you can do it yourself using the techniques these professionals employ.

Look for ways to de-clutter. Many people continue to add accessories and mementos to their homes, without ever eliminating old or outdated objects. Although it is comforting to be surrounded by objects that have personal meaning, too many accessories make any room look cluttered and aimless. One of the first things a professional arranger will do is take everything out. You can perform an abbreviated version of this decorating exercise by narrowing your focus to just one or two areas, like a family room or living room.

Assume that you will keep the major furniture pieces in the room you've chosen. Now, clear the room of everything else, even pictures on the wall. Try arranging the furniture in different ways. If your furniture is lined up along the walls, consider ways that it could work in the middle of the room. What is the focal point: a fireplace, maybe a T.V.? Start by forming conversation areas around that focal point with your furniture. You may find that you can eliminate a table or two, or replace it with an item from another room.

Besides giving your home a new look, moving your furniture occasionally will also help even out wear on carpets and minimize traffic paths.

With a critical eye, look at the basics of the room. If your new furniture arrangement shows off more wall space than before, do they need a fresh coat of paint? Will you need to fill nail holes for pictures that will be moved? If you have carpet, does it need to be cleaned or even replaced? A professional cleaning may let you get a few more years out of your carpet, but if it just looks worn out, consider replacing it. You'll get a big bang for your decorating buck with new carpet.

Now that the big stuff is out of the way...It's time to study your accessories and start sorting them into categories. Your first group should be the things that you love or that have sentimental value. These you will keep, but if the amount still seems overwhelming, consider rotating the items seasonally. Decorating isn't about displaying everything at once. For now, pack up some of your valuables - you can unwrap them in the fall to create an entirely different look.

The second category can be items that you like, but are maybe not suitable to the look you are trying to create. Consider moving these items to other rooms, or allow yourself to have one "junky" room to hold the stuff you just can't part with. This will let you keep your "public" spaces, like your living room, clean and stylishly pulled-together.

The last group includes items that are past their prime and need to be donated or sold. This is where the fun comes in. Hold a tag sale or yard sale. Encourage your neighbors to hold one at the same time for a sale that will draw crowds. If possible, check out each other's wares before the public shows up. The saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure" has never been truer.

What to do with those yard-sale treasures? Paint can transform even the most ordinary items into a fun or dramatic accessory. A simple table with a shot of color will break up the monotony of multiple wood tables that tend to be a little too predictable. Old lamps with new shades can also add punch to a room. Buy a shade with beaded trim, or add your trim to existing lampshades. Old mirrors that are distressed and losing their silver can be charming when hung as a group.

Enlist the help of a friend to sort through all the possibilities you will encounter. It is better to err on the side of too little rather than too much. Lots of small things look busy. To give your room professional style, go for a few important pieces that will make a focused decorating statement.

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