Using What You've Already Got
Morning Call June Makeover: Accessorize
Accessories make all the difference in Michele and Dave Roehler's newly decorated family room. The Roehlers were the winner of The Morning Call June Makeover. (Douglas Kilpatrick/The Morning Call. / June 30, 2006)
WHAT WE LEARNED1. A touch of color in accessories goes a long way toward warming up a room if those colors complement other elements of the decor.
2. Fabrics can warm and soften a room. Fabric elements can be added with:
Window treatments that not only match but also make the room's furnishings pop when you have a little fun mixing patterns.
Rugs that complement the dominant colors in the room.
Pillows that match other fabrics in the room to give you a custom look or allow you to pull other colors into the room's decor.
3. Photos are better in smaller groupings at eye level than in one large stretch in an out-of-reach area.
4. Strategically placed area rugs can anchor the individual areas of multi-functional rooms. A rug placed under the sitting area and one under the dining area helps define those areas of the room.
5. If you can't find the curtains you need in the right size or fabric, occasionally you can improvise by making them out of something that is more readily available. (Designer Nancy Carroll turned pillowcases into valances when she couldn't find the window treatments or fabric she needed.)
6. Angling furniture is a good way to open the traffic flow and connect the eye movement between two areas of a room, making an area feel more welcoming.
7. When all else fails, use silk plants. They can add colors that complement a room's decor and they can warm up empty spaces.
Inside the home, the furnishings have grown to suit Michele and Dave's country tastes. Michele notes that she is particularly proud of her oak dining room set, custom-made by Amish furniture makers in Lancaster county, a bargain quilt that was "a steal," and some attractive antiques.
The family has expanded as well. Daughter Emily was born 21/2 years ago. And Homer, a 4-year-old Jack Russell terrier, joined the household three years ago.
With its pristine view, modern conveniences and room to grow, Michele is sure she has just the right house. But, she says, she feels like "building it took forever" because home-building requires so many decisions -- the kind of homey decisions she continues to struggle with today.
"I'm design-challenged," says Michele. "I know what I want, but I can never pull it together. I can't accessorize."
One of her greatest challenges was the well-used family room. "The room is OK, but there are a few things that we just 'put here for now' when we moved in that are still in the same spot six years later," she complains.
"I have more of a 'scientific' mind. I am not creative. I just need that extra something to pull the room all together, and I just don't seem to have the ability to do it," says Michele, who works as a manager in the pharmaceutical industry at PharmaNet in Blue Bell, Montgomery County.
She also struggled to choose window treatments. "I didn't know what to buy. I just bought something to match the couch," she says.
Michele says she's always felt there's just something missing in her family's favorite room. So, she did what any scientifically minded, designed-challenged homeowner would do -- she requested a Morning Call Makeover at www.mcall.com.
Readers nominated her home along with two others in online voting and Makeover designer Nancy Carroll chose to take on Michele's challenge.
Nancy started by visiting Michele to assess what was needed. They browsed through catalogs, got a clear picture of Michele's tastes and settled on a $1,200 budget to purchase accessories, window treatments and at least one new piece of furniture to cozy up the room.
As I pull into the driveway, Nancy is already at work, putting together a new console table from D&D Home Furnishings, just one of the items she gathered on what she calls her "power-shopping" spree. I grab a screwdriver and jump right in.
With the table assembled, Nancy takes me inside to show me why she selected Michele's home. The home already has a good start, she explains -- nice furniture, some great accessories, some beautiful antiques. "It feels great to be here," says Nancy, as she makes her way through the rooms.
Like a tiger in a cage at feeding time, Nancy paces, eager to get started as our photographer takes his "before" shots of the family room. Her head filled with ideas, Nancy can barely contain her enthusiasm.
When she finally is set free to decorate, there's no stopping her.
First, the window treatments
Nancy quickly removes the blue panels, leaving the sheers. In a matter of minutes, blue-and-white Waverly panels hang in their place. Leaves in the Waverly pattern speak softly to the subtle leaves on the sheers, giving them new vitality. The overall look is much more vibrant.
She keeps the conversation between fabrics going by adding a four more pillows to the sofa in front of the window. One pillow, made with the same Waverly print as the curtain panels, ties everything together, while a gold pillow will "talk to" gold accents to be added elsewhere in the room, Nancy explains.
She also adds a touch of blue-and-white Waverly print to the pretty, daisy-adorned sheer valances Michele already has on the narrow windows in the eat-in area of the kitchen at the far end of the family room. Alone, the valances looked a bit weak but when framed with the Waverly fabric, the daisy pattern pops. As we admire the look, Nancy confesses that she couldn't find valances in the Waverly pattern. With a little seam-ripping and re-stitching, she cleverly crafted the valances out of pillowcases.