Go room by room to reimag­ine your house

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - USA TODAY LIFE - Lisa Marie Hart

We’ve all been there: You want to re­vamp at least one room in your home — or maybe ev­ery last one of them, but you’re stumped on where to start. You might have a def­i­nite style in mind, or you fear you might lose your mind try­ing to se­lect one. That’s where our panel of pro­fes­sional de­sign­ers comes in.

Our ex­perts of­fer top tips, tech­niques and styling ad­vice that will get you dream­ing yet keep you grounded. Whether you’re start­ing with a blank can­vas or just an empty nest, their best ideas for re­dec­o­rat­ing each dis­tinct space in­clude where to start and what to con­sider along the way.

Liv­able, lov­able liv­ing rooms

Liv­ing rooms are at­trac­tive, hard­work­ing chameleons, serv­ing as both pub­lic and pri­vate spa­ces. Their de­sign chal­lenge lies in achiev­ing a flex­i­bil­ity that lets them be used daily in a mean­ing­ful way, then turned around for host­ing guests in el­e­gant sur­round­ings at a mo­ment’s no­tice.

“Cre­at­ing that alchemy where the en­ergy of a per­son or fam­ily ex­tends its wel­come is part of the fun,” says Lisa Kahn of Lisa Kahn De­signs, in Naples, Fla.

Dec­o­rat­ing be­gins by en­vi­sion­ing the ul­ti­mate “af­ter” pic­ture, Kahn says.

Don’t let your bud­get de­flate your dreams. “Even if you can’t af­ford to im­ple­ment all changes at once, take it in phases so ev­ery­thing meets that end goal,” she says.

In a liv­ing room, she finds wor­thy splurges in a knock­out piece of art­work, an exquisite light fix­ture or gor­geous drap­ery pan­els.

A cus­tom rug or hand­made ta­ble also has star po­ten­tial.

“There is a move­ment to­ward see­ing our spa­ces as sanc­tu­ar­ies — spa­ces that speak to the com­fort of the body, the cu­rios­ity of the mind and the nur­tur­ing of the spirit,” Kahn says.

“I think we want more than just beau­ti­ful back­drops. We are look­ing for deeply restora­tive spa­ces that fa­cil­i­tate liv­ing more joy­ful lives.”

She has per­son­al­ized liv­ing rooms to fos­ter hob­bies such as read­ing, a cher­ished ac­tiv­ity such as shar­ing a bot­tle of wine, and to fea­ture a col­lec­tion of books or ob­jet d’art.

Sea­son your kitchen to taste

In­stalling new dec­o­ra­tive light­ing or a new back­splash in your kitchen adds sizzle with­out evolv­ing into a full re­model, she says. To sea­son the over­all de­sign, she is par­tial to unique counter stools or a vin­tage-style run­ner rug that func­tions as art­work un­der­foot. A gleam­ing sink and pull-down faucet will im­prove prep, cleanup and your mood.

Re­flect your pri­or­i­ties in the few qual­ity items you leave out on the coun­ter­top.

Un­less your fridge, dish­washer and stove are on the fritz, you may not want to re­place them.

A re­model of­ten in­volves re­vamp­ing your kitchen lay­out to ac­com­mo­date your wish list, which can af­fect the size of ap­pli­ances you’ll need. No re­model on the hori­zon? A quick kitchen turn­around might come down to paint, hard­ware, light­ing and ac­ces­sories .

Beau­ti­ful bath­rooms

When dec­o­rat­ing a bath space, lim­i­ta­tions can lead to trans­for­ma­tion.

A few savvy up­dates can cre­ate the jewel-box ef­fect that at­tracts all those “likes” on so­cial me­dia.

Din­ing rooms made for gath­er­ing

The din­ing room is a place for mak­ing mem­o­ries,” says Mar­celle Guil­beau of Mar­celle Guil­beau In­te­rior De­sign in Nashville.

The ta­ble is the fo­cal point of your space. Guil­beau says her tra­di­tion­al­ist clients fa­vor a farm ta­ble paired with cream linen-cov­ered chairs.

The built-in ban­quette has be­come ex­tremely fash­ion­able, she adds.

Bliss­ful bed­rooms

At its best, a bed­room is a serene place where you feel free to be your­self.

Keira St. Claire-Bow­ery of An­thony Wilder De­sign/Build in Cabin John, Md., be­lieves calm­ing col­ors, cou­pled with nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, are the first step.

“You want ev­ery­thing in your bed­room to ex­ude com­fort,” she says.


A sit­ting area el­e­vates the feel of a bed­room to that of a suite, says in­te­rior de­signer Keira St. Claire-Bow­ery.


Use open shelv­ing to dis­play fa­vorite items and de­clut­ter coun­ters, says de­signer El­iz­a­beth Cross-Beard.


Dis­play­ing per­sonal items can make a liv­ing room feel invit­ing.

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