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On the Porch with Anita Joyce: Refreshing Tired Rooms

Entrepreneur Anita Joyce Cedar Hill Farmhouse Round Top HoustonAnita Joyce has a city house in Houston, a country house near Shelby and a flair for French style. The former engineer is a wife and mother as well as a self-taught photographer, interior designer, blogger and online entrepreneur who founded in 2011. Today that site alone has 80,000 unique visitors per month.

Recently, a reader wrote, “Help! My room feels stale and tired.”

We’ve all been there. You look around and realize the room hasn’t changed since 1985. Maybe you still have the floral peach and blue sofa you inherited in 1992, or perhaps the

large brown plaid floral wallpaper circa 1974 is staring back at you.

One option is waiting it out because everything comes back in style if you wait long enough. Don’t believe me? Check out the Panetone colors for 2016: Rose Quartz and Serenity. They look suspiciously like the dusty rose and blue that were so popular in the mid-80s. Let me go put on my legs warmers, and we can discuss it some more.

At some point, we just get tired of being in the same room with the same look even if nothing is actually dated. We need to mix things up every now and then so our rooms don’t feel stale and stuck. Often a new look doesn’t require a major overhaul.  There are some small, simple and affordable things you can to do to liven up a room.

Anita Joyce Cedarhill Farmhouse Round Top Texas
photo by Anita Joyce

Here are some of my favorite design secrets for refreshing tired rooms:

Move things from one room to another
It seems so simple that it can’t possibly be true, but it is. Just move accessories or chairs from one room to another for a different look. I do it all of the time. The strategy works well if you like what you have but feel your decor is a bit stuck.

One time I bought a new chair for my closet, which set off a wave of rearranging that eventually affected four rooms. The new chair went in the closet, the old closet chair went in the bathroom, the old bathroom chair went in the . . .. You get the point. For the price of one chair, four rooms got a new chair.

Of course, this may not work well if each room has a different look or color palette. For instance, moving a blue chair from the blue room to the red room may not succeed; however, if all of your rooms have a similar look, the furniture and accessories usually can be rotated to another beautifully.

Anita Joyce Cedarhill Farmhouse Round Top Texas
photo by Anita Joyce

Change out the pillows
New furniture can be expensive, but pillows are much more affordable—and easier to return if you don’t like them. Try buying several different pillows for your room. Keep the ones that work and return the ones you don’t. If you have pillows you no longer like, you can often use them on your porch or donate them.

Pillows can make a room look different without a big expenditure. Some decorators keep a set of summer pillows in soft colors and winter pillows with richer colors so they can change the look with the seasons.

Add something vintage
Vintage things typically have loads of character and can add so much excitement and interest to a room. I’m not opposed to new things, but the things I’m most drawn to are old, unique and hold their appeal. I find myself studying my vintage items and considering their stories. These are the things friends notice, remember and want to discuss. To fight room boredom and start conversations, try adding a vintage item.

Room by Anita Joyce Cedarhill Farmhouse
photo by Anita Joyce

Edit, edit and edit
There’s probably something in your home you really don’t like, but you feel you can’t get rid of it. Either it’s something you’ve had a long time, you paid a lot of money for, or it belonged to your great aunt once removed, and getting rid of it would be akin to denouncing your name. Regardless, you’re being held hostage by your decor. In the words of Disney’s famous “Frozen” song, LET IT GO!  Getting rid of that unlikable thing will make your room feel lighter and better.

Years ago we bought an expensive dining room table made from crotch mahogany (yes, that’s a “thing”). With all of the leaves, it stretched out to 12 feet. Buying it made me feel like a “real” adult. I loved that table and enjoyed it for many, many years, but then my tastes changed. I was ready to move on, but we had paid a lot of money for it, so I didn’t think I could sell it because selling it at a loss seemed irresponsible. As a logical engineer, the decision made no sense.

Then the taunting began. I felt the table was mocking me. I tried to avoid it. I even tried covering it with a tablecloth, but still it was the proverbial elephant in the room.  Finally I broke down. I decided to sell it because I needed to be free of the table even though I knew I’d never get my money back. Once I made the decision, it was as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents said your dog went to a farm, but they really took it to the pound? Well, our table went to a farm in the guise of a consignment store. I’m sure good people bought it.

A few weeks later I got the check from the store, and the check was for the exact amount I needed to buy the replacement table I had chosen. So, even though I didn’t get my all of my money back, I basically traded a table I didn’t want for one that I did want. WIN-WIN!

Anita Joyce Cedarhill Farmhouse Round Top Texas
Before paint (photo by Anita Joyce)
Anita Joyce Cedarhill Farmhouse Round Top Texas
After paint (photo by Anita Joyce)

Paint works miracles. I’ve seen it transform ugly ducklings into stunning swans over and over again. With the new chalk-based paints, there’s no need for primer, so painting is easier than ever. I’ve transformed light fixtures, candlesticks, chairs, tables, iron beds and even fabric with paint. It’s actually fun. If you want to give the piece even more character, you can use antiquing stains and waxes as well.

In your hands
If you feel your home needs a little je ne sais quoi, the power is in your hands. Most importantly, DO SOMETHING. Trust me, you probably won’t hit it out of the ballpark on your first try, but you’ll learn something every time you experiment—and you will improve.

If you want to be a good decorator, you have to be willing to start out as a bad one. Just start small. Try things that are reversible; buy things you can return or paint things you were going to get rid of any way. No harm, no foul and lots of potential . . ..


article and photos by Anita Joyce

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