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In the mood
12 easy ways to elevate your homeís ambiance



When youíre blue or bored, a little thing like lunch with a friend can lift your spirits. Little things can also go a long way to lift the mood of a boring or humdrum space in your home, making a major statement without a major cash outpouring. Here are 12 examples from local design experts that are sure to inspire you.

1. Add character

"A lot of new construction doesnít have a lot of character," says Trish Johnson, owner of Trish Johnson Interiors in Genesee. "Add some crown molding or ceiling medallions in your living room or master bedroom for some distinctive style," she says.

2. Color me blue (and green)

"One thing that really makes a big impact is the color of your walls," Johnson says. "Blue and green are coming back strong this year in crisp, clear colors like turquoise, kelly green, sky blue and even electric blue."

3. Bust a move

"If the furniture in your house is still arranged in the same fashion as it was five years ago, itís time for a change," says Sarah Steltenpohl, designer and buyer for Swan Interiors in Wauwatosa. "Try a new floor plan. Re-evaluate. Move things around. You might be surprised at the difference it makes."

4. Redesign

For something completely different, gather all of your art and accessories and put them in one place. Then redistribute the pieces in different parts of your home, suggests Greg Holm, ASID, lead designer with Peabodyís Interiors in Whitefish Bay. "Itís almost like having new things without the expense," he says.

5. A new outlook

How long have you had those window treatments? "Think about getting new draperies or blinds," says Steltenpohl. "If you donít want to do that, just add a scarf or some tassels to make another color in the room pop," she suggests.

"The trend is to open up those windows with simple window treatments. Get as much light into the space as possible," Johnson adds.

6. For artís sake

"If you have a piece of art that is starting to look drab, consider changing the matting. A new mat color can give a print or photo a fresh, new look," Holm recommends.

7. Under cover

These days, you can find beautiful slipcovers that will give a brand new look to dining room or kitchen chairs, Holm says. "You can find a wide variety of fabrics and the slipcovers can be short or long," he says.

8. Mix it up

If all of the furniture in your living room is part of a matching set, consider breaking up the family, says Steltenpohl. "For a little more interest, bring in a chair with a different look. Everything does not have to match," she says. Along those same lines, slipcovers or reupholstering furniture with a new fabric can really make a difference when things start to look drab.

Mixing materials is also a good way to liven up a space, says Johnson. "Itís more about your own taste than about whatís in style," Johnson says. "Mix wicker and wood, glass or metal with a woven material."

9. Shelve it

Many homes have built-in bookshelves or cabinets that are rarely touched. "Some people never put books on those shelves!" exclaims Steltenpohl. "Acquire some books. Change the focus; change the height of the shelves. Rework your shelves so you donít have the same thing you always had."

10. Just for kicks

To add the look of a piece of furniture to kitchen cabinets or a bathroom vanity, Johnson suggests adding some feet. "Add feet under the toe kick and it adds an architectural element," she says.

11. Color blocks

To spice up an area, add a punch of color, says Holm. "Put several pieces of pottery in one color near the fireplace or add brightly colored pillows to your sofa. Group some colorful items together to make a big statement," he says.

12. Being green

Breathe some life into a room with green plants or updated silk arrangements. "Sometimes Iím amazed at how long people will keep the same floral arrangements in their home," says Steltenpohl. "After a few years, you really should bring in some new florals. Perhaps change them with the seasons."