Living Space: Simple changes can give your house new look for 2012

Dec. 29, 2011 at 6:29 a.m.

Reposition seating

Look at the current set-up of your furniture and see if you can swap seating positions. Sometimes, simply shifting things around is enough to make a room look fresh. If you have a sofa and loveseat in an L-shape, try positioning the pieces across from one another. Or, reposition seating in an L-shape if you currently have a conversational arrangement. Add an armchair from a dining room or another room of the house to finish off the open end of the square.


Another way to add punch to a room is to create a new focal point. If you have a window and a fireplace and furniture is arranged around the hearth, shift the focus to the window. A wall of color, an architectural detail, or a large piece of furniture, such as an armoire or entertainment center, can also serve as a focal point.

Take a different tack

Decorating shows on television often suggest that simply doing the opposite of what you've been doing has the most impact. Interior designers take spare, clean, contemporary rooms with minimal color and give them a warmer traditional look with rich tones and luxurious appointments. At the other extreme, they banish dark colors and heavy fabric and furnishings to make a room light, bright and airy. Such transformations, while more labor intensive, add more impact than merely rearranging design elements.

But you don't have to make drastic changes to shift the way a room looks. For example, if a room has an open concept and lacks coziness, add furnishings and accents to make it feel more intimate. Folding screens can bring a big room down to size. Placed behind a sofa, against a flat wall or in a corner, a screen adds intimacy and focuses the attention on the furniture. Adding or removing window treatments can also make a big impact without a huge amount of effort. Swapping lamps and artwork takes little time and makes a room look instantly refreshed.

Small touches

Once you've moved your furniture, it's time to tackle the rest of your decor. Remove plants or shift them to different positions, switch out old plants with new ones, clear off shelves, and try using different pieces of furniture in a room; instead of a leggy sofa side table, place a small nightstand with drawers there instead. Rearranging a room can take less than an hour, yet give the space a whole new look - and really make you feel like you've turned over a new leaf for the new year.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website,



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