By Kimberly L. Jackson/The Star-Ledger
It’s never too late for home improvement resolutions. Here are 12 months worth of ideas that can help make home happier this year.
1. Let nature guide you: “Tangerine Tango” is the official color of 2012, but if you’ve no taste for citrus hues, Westfield interior designer and blogger Laura Mannes has a color-selecting suggestion: “Take your camera, and head outside into nature where the best color combinations exist in abundance and light.”
2. Look up: The ceiling, an oft forgotten space, holds lots of design potential, says Mannes. “Cover it with wood, tile, paint, glass, plaster, metal or wallpaper,” she suggests. There are also many other ceiling treatments, such as beaming and vaulting, that add interest.
3. Lighten up: One of the most effective solutions for getting rid of excess is the Year Box. This is for people who never know when they might need all the things they hold on to. Fill a box with those rarely used items, close it and date it. After a year, if you haven’t needed anything inside, you must donate the contents without opening the box.
4. Fix what’s broken: “Walk around your house and make a to-do list of everything that needs repair, and set aside a weekend or two to do it,” suggests Long Branch interior designer Donna Domenicali. Hire someone to do what you can’t. “You will feel better and your house will look better.”
5. Get that remodel rolling: “Even if you don’t want to undertake the expense in the next 12 months, you can put a minimal amount of money into getting an architect or designer to help you plan,” says Domenicali. Design pros will have ideas to reduce project costs or to complete a renovation in phases. “It might turn out that it is less complicated and less expensive than you think.”
6. Repurpose wasted space: “Look at the rooms that you never go into and think about what you can do with them,” sugests Domenicali. “You can’t afford not to use every inch of your house. Think about your passions, those are probably the things you haven’t made room for.”
7. Improve lighting: “Light is a very important part of your visual environment, says Westfield lighting designer Robert Newell. Most of us feel better on a sunny day, and Newell notes that improved artificial lighting lifts our mood, too. It also changes the mood of a room. A dining room’s lighting, for instance, will be dimmed for an intimate dinner, a bit brighter for a friendly gathering, and brightest for a large, festive event. Newell’s simple rule of thumb: “The more people, the more light.” To accomplish that effectively, a variety of light sources ranging from chandeliers to recessed lighting to sconces and table lamps is typically required.
8. Eat out more: Not necessarily at restaurants, but in your own backyard. An outdoor dining area can add to the quality of life whether it’s a wooden table and benches or a designer-appointed “room” with an open-air kitchen. An increasing number of outdoor heaters, fire tables and fireplaces can extend al fresco living into the colder months.
9. Explore digital: Nanny cams and other house-watching systems have been around for quite a few years, and the technology is becoming more widely available and accessible for use with hand-held devices. A basic home monitoring system through Verizon, for example, starts at around $70 (uninstalled) with a $10 monthly access fee. More advanced home automation systems allow remote control of heating, lights and more.
10. Rearrange the furniture: Celebrity designer and author Stephen Saint-Onge suggests taking everything out of a room (a good time to fill that Year Box) and then freshening with items from elsewhere in the house. Such intensive rearranging also provides an opportunity to think more about how the room is used before refurnishing it.
11. Corral collections: “For 2012, it’s time to pull the collections together and display them so that you get energy and pleasure from looking at them,” says Domenicali. Use a narrow, wall-mounted shelf for a more modern look, she suggests. “You may have to cull your favorites, but there are also simple ways to craft a display in a shelf unit or a fancier piece.”
12. Go window shopping: The value of “just looking” is in educating yourself on various brands, their features and prices when you’re not under pressure to buy(impulse spenders: leave the plastic at home). When it’s time to purchase, you’ll know when you are getting the best quality at a great price.