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Give A Fresh New Look To Your Home
Room refiners change the look of your home in a day;s time.
The cluttered living room had decor problems, and room refiner Rita Wilson had been hired to solve them. Dusty silk-flower arrangements were abundant; light was not. The furniture arrangement was awkward: a couch backed up against a window, facing a row of mismatched chairs. "It doesn't look like a living room," said Christin Black, the homeowner. "It looks like a sewing circle. But Wilson had a plan. "What this room needs is a focal point," she said-the beautiful field-stone fireplace nearly obscured by furniture. In another room, she had already spied the mate to a tomato red upholstered armchair in the sewing circle. "We can use the pair to frame the fireplace, and then the sofa will move to face them," Wilson said. She spent a day shifting furniture, hanging pictures and adding accessories to create a remarkable room transformation. Even more impressive, she created the new look using things Christin already owned.

The art of re-doing
Wilson's firm, rearrangements, is one of a growing number specializing in use-what-you-have decorating, also called 'room refining' or simply 'redesigning'. Instead of the blank check and blank slate once demanded by interior designers, room refiners rearrange your furniture and, typically, 'shop' the house for pieces that might be better suited to the space. And, for a standard flat fee of US $300 (approx Rs.l3,800), they work their magic in one day.

It's interior design for the masses, and you can thank Lauri Ward for it. The queen of redesign and author of three books on the subject, Ward pioneered the field in 1981 out of frustration with the traditional interior-design industry. Back then, there was only one-way to do things: designers were supposed to sell clients on whole rooms full of new furniture.

"I did not like dictating to' people," said Ward, who is based in New York. "I also didn't like that the interior-design world was so geared to the very wealthy. What about that other 99 per cent of the population that bought the wrong sofa or the wrong paint colour?" Her epiphany gave birth to a movement. Ward has trained hundreds in her methods and founded the Interior Refiners Network, a national organisation of one-day redecorators.

In focus
"It has helped my business," Philadelphia interior designer Shelley Boe said of the redesign sideline she added two years ago. "People really like that I will do that; a lot of them don't need the whole shebang. They already have a lot of wonderful things. And all kinds of people can afford to have a room redesigned." Boe got her training through a group called Interior Redesign Industry Specialists, which differs sharply from Ward in its demand that the client stay out of the house on redesign day. She thinks refining is the wave of the future for interior design.

"I've been a traditional interior designer for 13 years and I like both, but I just love the redesign. The fact that you can help someone in a day's time and give them a whole new room is so exciting." Voorhees interior decorator Sandra Cook decided to focus exclusively on redesign a year ago, when she launched her Home Stylist business. "I find my clients know what they want," said Cook, who got her room-refining training with Ward. "They just do not know where to begin, or how to pull it all together." Cook, like most room refiners, provides a list at the session's end that details things that can be replaced or added to further enhance a room. "We are empowering the clients to realise a style of their own, to make it personal, and be involved in the process instead of being told what to do. All we are asking them to do is try something. If they don't like the furniture that way, we will absolutely move it back."

Constant change
At the Black house, Wilson was given free rein -though, in truth, her work on the living room didn't strictly fit into the one-day-redesign mould. She first came to the house in March, to rearrange some furniture in the family room. Next, she shopped with Black for a new living room couch and helped her choose the pale Persian rug that would replace the old dark one. She also did some advance de-cluttering. The final tweaking session last week pushed the room from unpolished to elegant. Wilson found a small table in the kitchen that could become a second side table for the repositioned couch, and a pair of matching brass lamps to set on those tables. "You really need to have pairs in a room," she said. "That's what brings harmony."

Two of the excess chairs were banished to a new seating nook Wilson created next to the stairs. Above the mantel a colourful, impressionistic landscape replaced a dreary brown painting of a mother and child. "That's what this room needed," she said. "It needed to come into the millennium." Behind the couch, whose back was now lined up with the front door, Wilson placed a console table she'd cadged from another room. "This room doesn't have a foyer," she said. "Putting the couch this way creates one."

Getting the axe: a big basket of silk flowers that had dominated the mantel. Wilson replaced it with a pair of sterling-silver pitchers, fresh flowers and candles. "I think Christin might put that back," Wilson said of the silk-flower basket. "She really loves that." In the end, though, all the changes held. "I just love what she did," Christin said. "I don't miss my dark rug, and I liked seeing the painting in a different spot." In fact, she's inspired to do more. "We're talking about doing the TV room," Black said. "And my husband wants to make an office out of a bedroom."
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Posted on : 28/11/2005
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