Miami Herald

miami herald cover2Published in:  Miami Herald


Published on: April 29, 2010

Who doesn’t want a beautiful house?

In spite of tough economic times, remodeling spending is on the rise, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Anyone can put together an aesthetically pleasing room without having to break into the rainy day fund, said renovation guru Krista Watterworth, an HGTV host who will be giving design tips at the Miami Home Show next weekend. “Even if someone is style challenged, they can still create a simple room with an easy budget,” Watterworth says. When it’s time for an aesthetic change, Watterworth finds that many people are faced with the decision to “move or improve.”

“I think that most people just want to improve,” Watterworth says. “Take unloved spaces and give them love. Then you end up having more space in the home to play or get away in.” What better to fill a newly renovated room than with stuff you already have and love? You could probably decorate a room with extra furniture and accessories from around the house, Watterworth says, particularly if the items are touched up. Recalling a particularly difficult job, Watterworth remembers using a lot of hand-me-downs. “We took a room and took a bunch of old accessories and painted them all white,” Watterworth says. “What that does is modernize and repurpose what you have.” If you browse garage sales, go Dumpster diving or want to make use of your own old furniture, you can cover up an old chair or table with contact paper. There are a lot of cool patterns that can be used to improve that old, beat-up dresser.

You don’t have to start from scratch, says Watterworth, co-host of HGTV’s Save My Bath for four seasons. Work with what you have if you don’t have the money to replace a worn-out item. Retro is in, so you can work with ’50s and ’60s features.
A paint job can go a long way. Set the mood with a cooler and calmer palate of greens and blues. These are also spa favorites.
Textiles also contribute to a more stylish bathroom. Use bamboo shades or linen curtains on windows, and don’t forget about new shower curtains, bathmats and towels. Swapping out linens every six months is a cheap way to keep things from getting boring.

If fixtures need replacing, a white sink, white toilet and white tub will not only look crisp but are also the least expensive pieces. Lowe’s and Home Depot are full of great deals, she said.  Hardware can be replaced with polished chrome — which is cheaper than nickel — for a newer and shinier look. When it comes to floors, try peel-and-stick tiles. Some laminate tiles look like stone. This trick can work in the kitchen as well.

It’s the little things — area rugs, accent tables, lamps — that fill a space and make it feel homey. And little touches can make your home feel more aesthetically pleasing, like keeping the table set with nice china and linen. “I really believe that a home is a reflection of your inner life,” Watterworth says. “If you live in a home filled with your personality and your character and that has warmth, you are going to feel that way inside.”

Decals and stencils are a great alternative to buying expensive wallpaper, she said. Swap pricey damask paper for a damask stencil and do it yourself. Urban Outfitters sells decals that can give your room character for less. But remember: saving money sometimes take patience and time. Realize that stenciling an entire room is going to be a labor of love. “If you get sick of it halfway through, it’s not going to work,” Watterworth says. “[The project] will be falling apart while you’re falling apart.”

The right window treatment can do a great job of framing that beautiful Florida view. But South Florida’s flora doesn’t have to stay outside. You can incorporate flowers, trees and lush greenery into your home decor. “It creates life to bring life into your home,” Watterworth says. Putting palm fronds in a floor vase is an instant conversation piece.

There’s nothing appealing about waking up to a cluttered house with toys on the floor and dishes in the sink. But with kids, work and other day-to-day obligations, you often have to stash and dash. A trip to the Container Store (there is one at the Village at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach) is an easy fix for the average living room mess, she says. Stackable storage boxes and shelving units can help get things off the floor and make every room livable again.

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