Interior Design in a Down Economy
During an economic downturn, shabby chic threatens to become just plain shabby. But those who’ve had to put major home-improvement projects on hold indefinitely don’t have to settle for shabby, agree local interior designers Gillian Drummond, Tom Sheridan, and Stephanie Mercado. While they admit that even high-end clients have postponed plans for additions, new kitchens or family rooms, they aren’t worried. During tough times, people tend to spend more time at home, and that means plenty of activity on the interior-design front, albeit on a smaller scale and often with a different focus.
Says Drummond, owner of Gillian Drummond Interiors, “We’ve become a more disposable society, but in this environment people tend to buy higher-quality furnishings rather than furniture from places like Pottery Barn. Antiques will become more important. They’re a good place to invest your money. They not only increase in value, but add history and patina to your home. If you haven’t been lucky enough to own furnishings passed down from generation to generation, you can find affordable pieces at auctions or consignment shops.” Mercado, owner of LeFrere Mercado Designs, concurs. “On the positive side, the recession may change our culture. We waste so much. If someone has a good piece of furniture that still functions in a room, they now may be more inclined to recover it rather than throw it out.” Adds Sheridan, owner of Sheridan Interiors, “This is a good time to assess your home and how you want to use it, and think about smaller projects you can undertake to freshen your surroundings.” These experts offer several recession-proof tips for updating your home without wiping out what’s left of your portfolio.
A fresh coat of paint or a new color can totally change the mood of a room. Or consider wallpaper. “We’re getting a lot of wallpaper orders,” says Tom Sheridan. “We haven’t seen this trend in a long time.”
If a sofa or chair still works, don’t replace it. Recover it. Changing upholstery transforms a piece and the room it sits in. Same goes for wood furniture. A coat of paint, some decorative stenciling or a faux finish can take an armoire, bookcase, or table from frumpy to fabulous.
Too many accessories can overwhelm a room and the people in it. “Many people have a hard time editing furniture and accessories; they find it hard to remove themselves from their attachment to personal items,” notes Mercado. “Selectively removing decorative objects or pieces of furniture can breathe new life into a room. An interior designer or decorator can help be objective.”
Nothing freshens a room faster than moving furniture around. Try different configurations in a room, or swap furnishings from one room to another. With a bit of elbow grease and a willingness to consider options, you can create a new room with pieces you already own.
While Wall Street may have derailed your plan to redecorate from scratch, you might still be able to buy just one great piece. Let the room evolve around it. Building a room over time rather than in one fell swoop isn’t a bad thing. “Houses should evolve. It gives them character. This economy will force people to update more slowly. They’ll have to take the time to replace what they have, one piece at a time. When doing this, it’s a good idea to work with a design expert and create a plan,” says Drummond.
Pillows, throws, artworks, lamps, and decorative objects impart instant character and ambiance. Simply introducing different accessories or artwork gives a space a facelift and personalizes it. Says Drummond, “When you choose artwork and accessories you love, you make a room your own.”