Above: Because the bed is the focal point, frame it with new lamps.
The end of a popular David Nightingale Hicks quote reads, “Style is not what you do, but how you do it.” That adage is relevant when you’re trying to transform a space for maximum impact with minimal resources. Decorators agree that making the slightest changes in a room can energize the ambience. We asked three local experts for their recommendations on how to transform favorite spaces.
1 Melissa Lindsay
Pimlico Interiors, New Canaan
Because the bed is the focal point of the room, make the space look fresh and updated by adding a new pair of bedside table lamps. Try a modern style fashioned from classic materials such as marble or alabaster, says Lindsay. “I also like the clean lines of one long lumbar pillow in a neutral fabric, or a fabric that goes with your current bedding,” she says. Lindsay also suggests finding a pair of modern benches and setting them next to each other at the foot of the bed. To add a touch of glamour and style, toss a fur throw on top of the bedding.
This space is often separated from a larger living area, so it’s a nice opportunity to bring in color. “Whether you buy a few bright accessories for your bookcases or line a bare wall with inexpensive shelves and style them with your own books, this will have a dramatic effect,” she says. “It’s nice to be surrounded by pretty things while you’re working, so put fresh flowers in a vase. Then update your desk accessories with a brass stapler or an unexpected container for your pens.” You can also apply Grasscloth to one wall and use it as a pinboard.
The best thing you can do when revamping a space for children is to get organized. “Use a bunch of fun baskets or bins to sort the toys,” says Lindsay. She also advises scattering colored ottoman poufs around the room to make the area inviting. “Kids love it when you frame their artwork, and it’s easy to mix their masterpieces with inexpensive art found online. Enlarge a photo of the family onto a canvas, or make it into a mural for the wall. Adhesive decals for the ceiling and walls are fun and another great way to get kids involved,” she says.
2 Amy Aidinis Hirsch
Amy Aidinis Hirsch Interior Design, Greenwich
For instant gratification, wallpaper the ceiling, says Hirsch, as a small amount of pattern and sheen can make a big impression. Slipcovering a chair or sofa is also transformational, as is changing out throw pillows each season and mixing up colors and patterns. Another way to make a dramatic impact is to add siding to one wall of the room. Hirsch recommends either Stikwood—a press-on wood material that resembles barn siding—or shiplap. “Shiplap is a great way to add interest to a wall,” she says, particularly if you hang it vertically.
If your foyer is small, change out the rug, or consider carpeting the stairs in a wool sisal with great trim. “Another unexpected but nice effect comes from painting only the stair risers a different color,” says Hirsch. You can also change the lighting to a pair of ornate lamps. A large, hanging fixture can make a lovely statement, as well. “Light fixtures should be like pieces of jewelry and have great presence in the space,” Hirsch says. Focus on quality, but don’t be afraid to double up on fixtures to make an impact. Hirsch also likes the look of a pretty console table in the entry. “Style it with lamps, big coffee-table books and beautiful baskets or boxes to hold smaller items. Those elements work very well together.”
Wallpaper can be a great brightener, but lately Hirsch loves the idea of a fresh coat of paint. “I recently painted a vanity black in an all-white bathroom, and the result was striking and sophisticated,” she says. “Or replace the countertops with white milk glass—it’s durable, functional and looks clean.” Splurging for new lighting or faucets can be pricey, but the upgrade is a great way to rejuvenate a room. “Easy changes include new towels and bathmats, but choose structured, unfussy styles,” says Hirsch. Finally, keep it neat. Consolidate counter clutter by corralling all lotions and sprays on a pretty tray.
3 Patricia Espinosa and Betsy Perry
The Local Vault, Greenwich
The duo says the kitchen is an easy place to refresh. Start with an oriental runner. “It’s a durable and beautiful accent piece that brings in jewel tones and warmth, and it adds age and interest to a room,” says Espinosa. You can also install pendants over the island. “We love the antique bronze cone pendants by Ballard Design,” says Perry. Other ideas include replacing countertops, adding a vintage sign for the wall, or updating seats. “Bring in Lucite counter stools or seats with low backs as they make a space more fun,” says Espinosa.
“You can re-cover furniture cushions or, for a quick fix, wrap your cushions— as if you’re making a bed—with printed sheets from a brand like Roberta Roller Rabbit,” says Perry. Another idea is to bring the indoors out. “Make the patio feel like a living room with indoor/outdoor rugs, pillows, and coffee table,” suggests Espinosa. Finish the space by hanging white lights in surrounding trees and adding a colorful patio umbrella.
If you don’t have a dedicated bar area, create your own with a vintage bar cart, or repurpose a piece of furniture, such as an armoire. “Style it seasonally with trays and glassware, and add a cool table lamp,” says Perry. Shelves can hold linens and accessories. “There’s something indulgent about a bar, and when you create the space from nothing, it makes for a focal point and adds an element of entertainment,” says Espinosa.
Bedroom, Living Room Photos: Amy Vischio; other photos contributed