Changes to décor renew home’s look, your mood

Refreshing our homes is really about applying one or two elements that invite a new perspective on the space. You can do this by changing the color on the walls, moving from paint to wallpaper or creating a glossy focal wall. It can be as simple as moving the furniture around, changing the traffic flow and what you look at when seated or in bed.

The decision to replace carpet with hardwood floors will have a dramatic effect on how your rooms look and feel. A new counter in the kitchen, a change of tiles in the bath, a modern chandelier in the dining room, whether it is a large or small shift in your design paradigm, you will have brought about a change that renews your home’s mood, and it will do the same for you.

When I look back over the past year, I see two specific areas or features that caused a change of direction in room décor. The first: There has been an explosion in sales of flat-screen TVs. It’s about time! Television sets have always been a decorator’s nightmare: a big, ugly box with a blank screen that got plunked down in the living room where everyone could get a good view. But now they have been elevated, literally, to the slimness of a large picture frame. That’s positive progress.

The second big push has been in the area of lighting. This is such an important design element so often ignored in the past. Here are two letters from readers who are moving with the times and looking for solutions to their new points of view.

DEAR DEBBIE: We are thinking of getting a flat-screen TV, and I was wondering about back lighting it so that when we don’t have other lights on, there would still be a bit of light in the room. — Beckie

DEAR BECKIE: The first step is to install a false wall so that you can hide the wires. Shown here is a simple solution: a back board with a low shelf that acts as a mantel that fits close to the wall, painted the same color so that it blends seamlessly.

Decorate the mantel or shelf with objects or flowers that have height and visual weight, as they will act as a focal point when the TV is not on. Back lighting is an imaginative solution that would offer soft illumination, which is not only esthetically pleasing, but also a healthier way to view the screen.

DEAR DEBBIE: We are having trouble deciding on a light fixture for over the dining room table. The room is 9 feet by 11 feet and is visible from the kitchen (stainless steel appliances) and living room (brushed-brass lamps). Our style is updated traditional. Are there any rules about having the light shine up to the ceiling or down over the table? What about size? Should the finish match the kitchen or living room? Thanks for your great tips. — Carolyne

DEAR CAROLYNE: There is an amazing boom in lighting products right now, and most of the rules about height and size no longer apply.

Chandeliers sport a mix of materials, combining traditional glass or crystal drops with brass and silver fittings, and then wrapping the whole lot up in a clear plastic shade. Oversized fixtures are in, but paired with a dimmer to keep the light appropriate to the task.

Lighting and styles cross over comfortably, with modern minimal spotlights or a silver curved arch lamp decorating traditional interiors and classic pendants and crystals at home in sleek, modern abodes. It is most important to try out your new chandelier at home to see if it’s right for your room. Most stores will allow you to do this.

Debbie Travis is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. E-mail questions to her at

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