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How to Know It's Time to Redecorate

Updated on August 27, 2013

Design Fever

An overwhelming majority of U.S. homeowners—84 percent!—say they plan to redecorate a room in their home in the next two years according to the 2013 Houzz and Home Survey.

Of those with such plans, 83 percent say the #1 reason to redecorate is to improve the look, feel, flow or layout of their home, while improving the home’s value comes in at #2 with 54 percent.

No matter what is your primary motivation, there are three basic reasons why a room in your home might need some TLC—from a light freshening up to a complete facelift.

Decisions, decisions

Which room would you love to redecorate ASAP?

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#1 Wear and Tear

The passage of time and general wear takes a toll on a home’s interior finishes. Generally speaking, things like paint, carpet, drapery and upholstery need updating every six to 12 years, depending on the quality of the finish and the extent of use. For example:

  • Is the couch worn out to the point you’re covering the arms with throws? It’s time for a complete rebuild and re-upholstery job, or replacement.
  • Is the carpet showing signs of wear like matting or thinning, or is it beyond cleaning? Move a piece of furniture to see how the carpet used to look and compare.
  • How is the paint finish on the walls? Remove a picture that’s been hanging for a while and you’ll find out. If there’s a visible difference between the surface that was covered by the picture and the surrounding wall, either from smoke, fading or general grime, it’s a good time to repaint.

Just painting the walls can make a huge difference in how your home feels. I’ve been in my home for 11 years how, and for the past two years I’ve been systematically repainting all of the rooms that still have basic builder beige paint, working room by room as budget, time and inspiration allow. All of the trim is getting a fresh coat of clean white semi-gloss as well.

One prime example of a complete room re-purpose was my dining room which was collecting junk, off-cast furniture from my mom and dust. It’s now a functional, beautiful home office with new paint, new window treatments and an area rug.

Inspire me!

Where do you get ideas to decorate your home?

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#2 Lifestyle Changes

Any major change in lifestyle calls for a room re-do. One prime example is a baby coming into the home: that home office or spare room can be turned into a nursery. At the other end of the time continuum, when kids go off to college their rooms are candidates for a dedicated hobby room or man cave.

Moving into a smaller home is also a great time to give your old furniture a new life, and to make the new space your own. Perhaps the modern sectional that fit well in the family room of the split-level is out of place in the living room of the vintage bungalow, or the king-size bed eats up precious space in the new master bedroom. Both are perfect reasons to replace them with more space-appropriate options. (Tip: Sell the furniture you want to replace at a consignment store or an online site and use the money towards something new!)

Even if the old furniture does fit in the smaller home, changing up the look of your room with paint, pattern and accessories can give you a fresh start and remind you less of your previous home. This psychological element can be an important aspect if your downsizing was the result of an unpleasant event, such as a foreclosure or a sudden forced retirement.

My “furniture doesn’t fit” dilemma was moving into my home with my 25-year old childhood bedroom furniture; it looked like doll furniture in the master bedroom! It took me several years to find the right furniture that will last me another 25 years, and it was worth it. I love the new look, and the furniture is the appropriate size for the room.

Road Blocks

What's the most challenging thing about starting a decorating project?

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#3 Tastes Change

So you fell in love with the color of the moment a few years ago and now you’re tired of it. Or you were smitten with Hollywood glam but your taste has gotten simpler over the last few years. It’s okay. Make a change to what suits you now. Where possible, re-use any furniture and accessories that fit the new look and replace any taste-specific pieces.

For me, I used to love changing up the powder room with whatever quirky idea entered my head—like stapling a grass skirt to the wall for wainscoting! Last year I made the switch to a more grown-up and sophisticated look.

Because taste and interior fashion do change, I always recommend investing in timeless, transitional furniture pieces in a neutral palette and popping the latest color trend in easy to replace (and less expensive) accessories and artwork. For example, the dinette set in my breakfast nook has been with me for 18 years now. It’s Danish modern design so its simplicity has stood the test of time. I’ve updated the look on several occasions with various chair covers, area rugs and table linens.

Next Steps

Take a look around your home. Do any areas need attention, based on these three rationales for redecorating?

If so, make a plan, including a budget and schedule for the work to be completed, and take the plunge! You’ll be rewarded with a room that is functional, comfortable and befitting your life.

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