House Beautiful

By Linda Marx –

If you think yours isn’t, spring is the perfect time to make some changes. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure where to start—we’ve got your expert-sourced primer right here.

 

EVERY HOME IS DIFFERENT because the decor reflects the taste and lifestyle of the owner. But in every case, a successfully designed interior—comprising creative, comfortable rooms with a personal touch—is created through a savvy combination of color, texture, pattern and embellishment. The trick is knowing how to achieve that combination.

“Architectural details, furniture, color, fabric, flooring, lighting and accessories are all important,” says Penny Drue Baird, a 20-year Architectural Digest 100 designer, who is currently in the midst of a residential design project in Fort Lauderdale. Baird, whose new book, On Interior Design, focuses on essential aspects of contemporary interiors, says an area rug, for instance, requires not just a selection of pattern but a consideration of the floor beneath, whether wood, stone, marble or concrete. Similarly, a brightly colored showstopper sofa may work best juxtaposed with simple, monochromatic club chairs.

Other designers prefer to pair classic pieces with modern prints to make a vignette pop, even adding bold, jewel-toned sofa chairs in emerald green, garnet red or royal navy in lush fabrics like velvet. But when a homeowner tackles a beautification project of any kind, Baird suggests avoiding clutter by removing accessories. “Take away your coffee table and side table and don’t replace them,” she advises.

Another tip for brightening and beautifying the home is to jettison the dark palette and
concentrate on classic white, cream or a mix of such pale neutrals. White, like a string of pearls, is classic and never goes out of style. It makes any room look timeless and sophisticated, and it’s easy to pair with fabrics and furniture or add any accent color for an instant update. In particular, as we enter into the spring and summer months, white is an ideal way to transition from the darker hues of winter. “Add a fresh coat of white to the walls, ceilings, doors and trims for an instant refresh,” says Anel De Castro, Director of Design at DCOTA in Dania. “There are also softer ways to brighten a space, like using white sheer curtains to encourage the light and freshness of spring, or change out colored lamp shades to add some fresh pop to existing light fixtures.”

White also brings affordable elegance to any room in the house. South Florida designer
Tracy Stern agrees that swapping out darker lamp shades and window treatments for white ones will being a wealth of light to the space. She also suggests incorporating a rug “for a bold, grown-up move.”

White works especially well in the boudoir. Whether a bedroom is modern or classic, lofty
or compact, white can transform it into a space of serenity, believes Fort Lauderdale textiles designer Joana Balcazar. “I love clean lines and fresh, light colors,” she says. “Whether the design is for the stateroom of a yacht or bedroom in the home, it has a fresh, simple,elegant look.”

Buy a few plump cushions or luxurious throws for the bed. Some experts advise turning a pair of old curtains into attractive pillows with a matching throw then accessorize the room with candles for ambient lighting. “Throw pillows in different colors and textures like fur or leather add a nice new dimension to the space,” says Juliana High of Smart Solutions Deco, a company that does work in Weston and around Broward and Miami-Dade counties. “I also like green, white and gray.”

To give the bedroom a focal point straight from the fashion runway, faux fur has become
the rage. Designers believe high-quality faux fur pillows provide cozy comfort and a touch of texture on their own or when used in a mix and match theme with other pillow-cover fabrics and materials. “I love using high-end faux fur everywhere I can, especially in the bedroom,” says De Castro. “It adds a cozy and luxurious feel to any space. Try adding a faux fur throw to the foot of the bed or some pillows to update the decor. Pops of color on the fur can also add a whimsical element to a reading nook or child’s room.” For added elegance, says designer Stern, “Consider draping your furnishings (couch or accent chair) in faux fur blankets to achieve that extra desired texture.”

Another way to beautify a room is the addition of colorful flowers in beautiful vases. Don’t wait for a special someone to buy the flowers; grab a few bunches from a florist, flower vendor or food market, and place them in the living space, hallway or kitchen. According to freshome.com, flowers decrease depression, enrich memory and increase social contact. Calla lilies symbolize beauty, white carnations mean loveliness, orchids ooze love and magnificence, and baby’s breath denote innocence. Brazilian designer Carmen Alcaraz Gomes believes fl oral containers make an elegant statement, whether the look is traditional or modern. “Crystal vases from Lalique look wonderful for traditional decor, while Jonathan Adler with his unique pottery and accessories looks perfect in modern homes,” says Gomes, whose clients come from Brazil and have second homes in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. “And remember, when accessorizing, symmetry and balance make all of the difference.”

Most designers agree that beauty comes from the details. For example, it is important to layer in opulent accents and rich finishes like artisan glass, crystal and rose gold. It is also important is to pay attention to lighting, which can always be changed and updated to create the impression of fresh and new. “Infuse the space with ample lighting,” says Kristen Ross, senior showroom manager of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery in Fort Lauderdale. “Warm tones tend to be the most flattering.” In fact, statement lighting can shake up an entire room. Whether it’s through focal points or artsy shapes, the choice can change the personality of a room, offering the feel of a totally new space without a great deal of effort or expense. Paula Villabonna, founder of D-Essentials, Inc., an architectural and design consulting firm for Broward and Miami-Dade counties, agrees that lighting can make a simple though impactful change. “LED lighting makes a statement of ambience,” says Villabonna, who lives in Weston. “I like a line of lights on the ceiling for beauty instead of high hats. It looks great and offers a huge change.”

Villabonna, who has worked with residential and commercial projects in Cali, Bogota, Caracas and New York, as well as Miami and Fort Lauderdale, also feels rugs and accessories can off er a homeowner enough change to make a smashing difference in the home. She likes contemporary and urban style area rugs with lots of taupe, white, off -white and beige into gray. (Note: No yellow.) Then she pairs the rugs. “Gold metal accessories, even table legs make beautiful statements,” she says of the resulting vignettes. “And I like wood, especially gray oak with matte gold inlays into floors.”

Locally and nationally, kitchens and bathrooms have become the most important rooms in the house. They need to be constantly updated and beautified for the owner’s pleasure. This is especially important when it’s time to sell. Oversized lights, prints and kitchen islands are popular because they make even a smaller space seem larger than life. In fact, keeping all types of fixtures updated is very important, experts believe. “I am in love with the new trend of copper and brass fixtures in both kitchens and baths,” says De Castro. “Pair these with bright hues like Ultra Violet, the Pantone Color of the Year, or bold navy against white tiles which offers sophistication and timelessness with an updated contemporary feel.”

Bathrooms continue to look more and more like luxury spas for both fashionable and functional reasons. Wonderful new trends include adding a custom drying station outside of the shower with an inset white oak drainable platform; creating a custom reclaimed wood vanity mixed and matched with a variety of metals; replacing an old wood cabinet with white oak floating shelves used for open storage, plants and decorative items, and adding an electric fireplace for year-round cozy ambience.

Opening up any bathroom to give it a lighter, more contemporary look can include covering the shower walls in a bronze vein or painted turquoise ceramic tile. The floor can look new with all white tile or stone, or a gray-white combination of geometric tiles.

“People can make big changes with minimal expense by updating and adding these small details, which bring much happiness,” says Villabonna.

When it comes to home decor, the experts seem to concur: Frequent change is good.

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