it comes to decorating our homes, our choices are many.
flea markets to furniture stores, from Costco to custom
manufacturers, sources abound for furniture and
accessories that can add function and style to our
with so many price points to choose from, how do we know
where to spend and where to splurge?
turned to Lauri Ward for guidance.
is the mother of interior redesign, the concept of
decorating by rearranging and reusing things you already
own. She’s president of Use What You Have Interiors, a
design firm in New York and Florida, and the founder
with her husband of the Interior Redecorators Network (),
an organization of decorators who are trained and
certified in her methods. She’s also written four
books on interior redesign, including "Use What You
Have Decorating and Downsizing Your Home With
the nature of her work implies, Ward doesn’t advocate
spending with abandon. Many times, you can find what you
need just by "shopping" your own home, she
said. It just requires developing an ability to look at
your possessions with new eyes and see their potential.
sometimes, she said, paying more for good-quality pieces
is a smart investment that saves money in the long run.
you get good basics and classic pieces ... they will
just always hold on," she said.
said she would put money into a good-quality seating in
clean-lined, classic styles and solid colors — no
exaggerated rolled arms, no plaids or prints that won’t
stand the test of time. You can always update sofas and
chairs with inexpensive throw pillows that can be
replaced or recovered whenever your tastes change.
believes armless chairs are smart for the living and
dining rooms, especially in smaller spaces. At the
dinner table, armless dining chairs let you fit two
people at each end of the table on holiday dinners, she
noted. In the living room, armless upholstered chairs
take up less space than bigger chairs with arms, and you
can get into them from three sides, not just one.
also invest in a sturdy bench for its versatility. It
can go in your living room, in your entry or at the end
of your bed, and it can be moved into the dining room
for extra seating when company comes. She prefers an
unupholstered bench, because it’s more durable and
flexible than an upholstered one.
don’t cut corners when it comes to beds, she said. As
with seating pieces, choose something with clean lines
and classic styling. It’s much cheaper to update with
bed linens than to buy new.
where can you scrimp?
are a good place, she said — things like accent
pillows, picture frames and decorative items that can be
replaced when styles change without great expense. You
can even buy different covers for throw pillows so you
can change your room with the seasons, she said.
are another good place to save, Ward said. It’s
cheaper to change a rug than a roomful of furniture, yet
a new rug can give a room a new style direction or color
scheme. And decent rugs can be had without a big
financial outlay, she said.
thinks repurposed pieces are also a great way to save.
Accent pieces such as occasional tables and lamps can be
had for a bargain at tag sales, estate sales, thrift
shops and similar sources, and sometimes the quality is
equal to or better than pieces purchased new.
small chest with either drawers or shelves hidden by
doors is an especially good investment, she said. It can
be used as an entry table, a bar or an accent table.
with air underneath are smart buys, too, because that
open area is potential storage space, she said. Put an
attractive basket under an end table, for example, and
you have a place to keep magazines, electronic gadgets
or anything else you need to store.
be deterred by out-of-date styling or an unattractive
finish. "You put some white paint on it, and
suddenly it looks fabulous," she said.
do look for matching pairs, she advised. Ward is a
proponent of what she jokingly calls the Imelda Marcos
rule, named for the former Philippine first lady and
infamous shoe hoarder: You can never have too many
she said, give balance to even the most awkwardly laid
out room and satisfy our innate need for symmetry. So by
using pairs of chairs, end tables, pillows, lamps and
other items, we can make our rooms more pleasing to the
eye and comfortable to be in.
that’s what decorating should be all about.