In with the New

By Linda Marx –

Update your home without tackling a major renovation and ravaging your bank account. Our round-up of experts suggest plenty of ways you can get it done.

Spring cleaning isn’t just about actually cleaning. It’s about refreshing— including your house. But refreshing the rooms in your home without undergoing a complete overhaul doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you’ve lived in the same space for years and are tired of staring at rugged panels, chipped paint and drab accessories, the thrill of the new is long overdue. Whether you want a more contemporary kitchen; sleeker, more stylized bathrooms; modern new accessories for your living and dining spaces; or smart, chic bedrooms, there are easy ways to refresh without renovation.

So where do you begin? One way is by addressing your lighting. A poorly lit room can make the home seem small, dark and cramped. Marianna Dubinsky of Pioneer Homes in Pinecrest suggests adding table and floor lamps to dark corners for a spark of instant ambience. “You’ll have brightly lit rooms that are open, airy and welcoming,” she says. “And to make your current lighting more versatile, install a dimmer switch.”

Adding new lighting fixtures is also key because they offer an easy update with minimal effort or expense. “Chandeliers and pendants offer an elegant, understated charm through opulent fixtures, rich finishes and even sparkling gems,” says Kellyn Cocche Arias of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in North Miami Beach. To simply add a warm glow to the mantel, dining table or bedroom credenza, candles and candle holders are a wonderful way to change the look and add romance. Holders come in endless sizes,
shapes and styles, from simple to elaborate, multi-armed candelabra to a single for a taper. Combining pieces from different sets and mixing and matching on a regular basis will result in creative looks that don’t get stale.

To revamp the living room, designers suggest adding new window treatments, a rug, or wallpaper on a single wall. “Pick a nice geometric gray and white wallpaper, then accent with vivid orange pillows,” says Carmen Alcaraz Gomes of CGI Design in Coconut Grove. “Then add a table and floor lighting. Once it’s completed, you’ll see dramatic change, a true transformation.” (Dubinsky believes adding a rug to such a vignette is one of the quickest, easiest ways to further jazz up the living room because it differentiates the space from the others.)

Some designers feel that it helps to clear out aging furniture and decor that take up a lot of space before tackling a transformation. “After you have cleaned it out, look for modern pieces that are easy to build on,” advises Leila Rivero of Macral Design in Doral.

Irene Gomez of Gomez Ossa International in Doral suggests adding a coffee table in the living room to change the entire look of the space. “This small change coupled with adding other accents can make the room look totally different,” she says.

For homeowners who seek more drama, Artefacto’s Paulo Bacchi encourages them to get daring and introduce artisan statement pieces that add surface and mission to the living area. “Our Dumas screen and wood panels by Alejandro Estrada are designed to adapt and re-envision a space,” says Bacchi, who has a showroom in Doral and another 40,000 square-foot gallery going up in Coral Gables.

Whether or not the living and dining spaces are part of a grander great room concept, the kitchen is the hub of family life today, so design professionals are eager to share some easy tips to modernize it and give the home more resale value. From painting the cabinets (use strong sandpaper, a paintbrush and plenty of elbow grease) to lightening up the walls, these smart steps are suggestion number-one for any kitchen, regardless of size. “People are tired of dark,” says Magita Rojas, designer and owner of Plume, Inc., a global inspired boutique in Coral Gables. “I painted my walls white recently. I really love it and encourage others to do the same.”

Matching appliances and updating countertops and backsplash tiles are other obvious fixes that don’t cost a lot and won’t stress you out. But you need to take the time to research what is available and how it will enhance your kitchen. “These kinds of design elements seem to change the most as trends come and go, but they can give you a lot of value for your investment in a room that is one of the most used by you and your guests,” says Carolina Moura Gutierrez, marketing director of Italkraft in Doral.

Aware of the trendiness of kitchens, Fernando Da Paz of Doral Stones in Doral believes if you use the kitchen to actually cook, certain stones, such as marble, are higher-maintenance for countertops and should be avoided in a refresh project. He prefers Quartzite, a metamorphic stone that originated as sandstone. It comes in every pattern and is especially trendy now in soothing, light colors like gray and white. “Quartzite has the same look as marble, but it’s harder and requires less maintenance,” says Da Paz. “Remodeling companies are offering great stones, cabinets, tiles and backsplashes today, so the time is right to fix up your homes, especially kitchens.”

For sure, an outdated backsplash is one feature that will reveal the age of the kitchen. If you don’t want to switch out the old countertops, says Frank Mendez, founder of Pioneer InterDevelopment in Pinecrest, “simply install a new backsplash to modernize the kitchen.”

Bathrooms are undergoing the same design renaissance and will also add value to the house. In addition to modernizing hardware, shower heads, soaking tubs and cabinetry, simple accessories can spice up the bath space and make it more luxurious. “Many people want the ‘wow’ factor, especially in their powder room because so many people will see it,” says designer Rojas. “Try adding flamingos to surprise your guests. Little things go a long way in redesign.”

The same goes for patio areas where outdoor furniture in bright colors is being offered in great fabrics, including Sunbrella, along with simple accessories and greenery. “If you only want to slightly refresh the look, just add planters around the furniture and you will love how it transforms the patio space,” says Janine Turcios, owner of The Veranda Collection in Doral.

Whether you go for the gold or just apply some simple suggestions to breathe new life into your space, adding something modern and different into each room can improve your home with minimal effort.

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