• Desiree Mastracchio, DMDesign

6 Steps to a Home Makeover

Have you ever felt like your house needs a do over? Not a remodel, not a redecorate -- just a makeover. You've got nice furniture, your accessories are stylish, but somehow, it just doesn't work. You need a fresh set of eyes to redesign what you already have, making it feel cohesive and new.

That's what a "redesign" is. We recently had the pleasure of redesigning a beautiful house in Milton. The blended family of 6 was comfortable in their large home, but things didn't quite mesh. This is often the case when combining two households... not to mention 4 kids and 2 dogs! The homeowners just needed some help making it all work.

DMDesign was able to use their existing furniture and accessories to create a more beautiful and functional space that works for everyone. Here are some tips for accomplishing similar results in your own home. If you don't trust your own instincts, call on us for help!

1) Make the first impression a good one. The entry foyer and view from the front door set the tone for your house. Make sure it is welcoming, uncluttered and stylish. Every area of your home that can be seen front this entrance contributes to the first impression and sets the tone for the mood of your home. The entrance below features a great view through to the back of the house. But the 10-foot ceilings and wide entry foyer were no match for the distracting furnishings that gave a cluttered first impression. The family room redesign helped the view from the entryway immensely. The cleaner, sleeker living and dining rooms shown in the section below also made for a more elegant first impression.

2) Think INSIDE the box. Often we decide to repurpose rooms... a bedroom becomes an office. A sitting room becomes a play room. Or we double up spaces... a study also houses the hide-a-bed for guests, or the dining room table is the computer/homework station. These ideas are all fine when they work -- thinking outside the box is part of making a house a home, as long as it works for your family and your lifestyle.

But we must recognize there are times that it just doesn't work. Sometimes you need to go back inside the box and change the room back to its intended function. A dining room doesn't make a great living room because it has a chandelier hanging in the middle of it. A living room doesn't make the best dining room because it's further from the kitchen. A room sharing two purposes frequently just becomes a cluttered, dysfunctional mess.

In the picture below, the intended dining room had been used as a living room, and the living room had a dining room table but was set up more as a home office. It turns out the family doesn't need a home office, and also didn't have a designated adult area for dining or entertaining. We moved the dining room back to where it should be, connected to the kitchen, and made it a dedicated dining space. Since it is just off the entry foyer to the right of the front door, this clean and sophisticated decor also helps to set the tone for the beautiful, upscale property.

3) Create balance and flow throughout the house. One room should naturally flow into the next. This is essential with an open floor plan, because several rooms or living spaces can be seen at the same time -- we don't like a traditional living room, a shabby chic sun room and an ultra modern kitchen without some common elements to tie them all together. Likewise, we don't want a crowded, heavily furnished front room, with a sparsely furnished back room in the same sight line. It feels us off balance and disturbs the flow.

In this home, the front two rooms are formal living and dining rooms. Both have elegant, glamorous touches with mirrors, glass and silver accessories, and clean, modern styles. Continuing toward the back of the house, the family room and kitchen/breakfast areas are warmer, more traditional spaces with softer, more varied textures. But as the photographs below show, the dark, heavy furniture ties everything together and gives the whole main level a cohesive and balanced look.

4.) Allow each room one, and only one, focal point. Every space has a natural and/or intended focal point. Usually it is either some type of architectural feature within the room (a fireplace or a block of windows) or some added element like a large piece of furniture or wall art/TV. When two areas compete for attention, the balance and harmony are thrown off. In the "Before" pictures below, the fireplace and flat screen TV are at odds with one another... the mantel is the natural focal point, but the furniture is arranged around the television, creating a second focal point. In the "After" picture, the layout of the room is much aesthetically pleasing, and the discourse between the two competing areas is minimized. The homeowners intend to have the flat screen mounted above the mantel and move the large family portrait between the windows, which will further improve the look and functionality of this room.

5.) Don't be afraid of neutral spaces. Not every inch of space needs to be functional. Not every wall should be filled with artwork, and not every surface should have things on it. It may feel like you are wasting space when you allow it to remain empty, but it actually serves an important purpose. Neutral spaces are essential design elements that allow the room to feel larger, more luxurious, and more serene. They help to create a feeling of balance within a space, with the natural ebb and flow of design. If every inch of a room or a wall is equally occupied by furnishings, it doesn't allow you to have a focal point or offset our natural inclination toward clutter. The before and after pictures below show the difference when some areas are just left alone.

6.) When in doubt, group furniture and accessories by color. The sofa table in the "After" picture below had been in the family room with a navy, red and taupe color scheme. While it is a beautiful piece with lots of character, it didn't gel in the room because of its color. We moved it to an upstairs landing instead, and grouped it with a rug, artwork, lamps and accessories with a variety of textures but a turquoise, green and gold color scheme that tied it all together. Similarly, the cool tones in the "Before" picture below didn't quite mesh with the warm tones in the rug. But the dark wood and silver mirror were perfect with the similar colors in the dining room.

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