Fixing up ideas and making them yours

“Your home should tell the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love.” — Nate Berkus (1971- ­ ), American interior designer and television personality

How many times do you hear people say, “Oh, I’m so excited, we’re getting new carpet … new paint … a new sofa … adding on a porch … getting floors refinished … installing new window treatments … buying new appliances.

Chances are you hear this on a regular basis. Our friends, relatives, neighbors, everybody does these things. Some hire designers or professionals to do their project. Some wish they had hired professionals. And some aren’t so happy with professionals when the project is finished.

Like Berkus says, it’s yours and it should reflect you.

Over the years as a designer and stager, I can’t begin to say how many people I have met who are unhappy with changes that have been made. So what is the best way to make changes if you’re ready to do it?

Of course, there are professionals in every facet of redoing or altering a home. There are a lot of these projects that we can do ourselves too. And, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Since this is the time of year that many projects get started, finished or cause multiple regrets or sometimes great joy, I thought it might be fun to mention a few to give you some ideas to inspire projects.


This is the project that homeowners have done forever — some successfully and some not so good. Performing the actual task of painting is one thing, but selecting the paint is sometimes the biggest problem.

My advice for picking paint is always to pick several that fall into the category — smallest cans available. Don’t put the sample paints on the walls. Put samples of paint on poster board and attach to the wall or room you want to paint. Leave it there for 24 hours so you can see how it looks as the sun or inside lights reflect on it from morning tonight.

You know from looking at your current walls that the color takes on a different look when the light changes. This gives you a much better perspective on the color and how it will look at different times of the day. You may like it and you may not.


This is a word that gets used every day in all parts of our lives. I’m not sure if you hire a designer that he or she would encourage you to buy or install something that is a trend. But I would not.

Whatever you are buying or whatever work you want to have done in your home is up to you. Again it’s your home. Not mine and not any other designer. Trends are just that.

Make sure that if something is lauded as the latest “trend” that it will fit your needs and style. Just because it has that label doesn’t mean that it works for everybody.

Hiring a professional

Contractors, trades people, repair people — if you are asked to sign a contract, never do it without reading it totally and make sure you understand it and also make sure that whatever you had talked about is in the contract. This will help ensure that the work you want to have done will get complete and at the price and timeline discussed. And if possible, be present when people are doing work in your home.

Purchasing furniture or appliances

Make sure you know how much money you can spend, what you need and how it will work for you. Don’t be talked out of the what you want by a salesperson or talked into something that won’t work for you.

Select what you want. Make sure it will fit into your space and learn about delivery costs, repair costs, warranties and return policies. We’re all been involved in things that didn’t work for some reason and were so angry or upset that we didn’t get the agreement we thought we had.

Doing things in our homes is pure happiness to most of us. If you have an upcoming project or just a new purchase, make sure you go on the right path. If you are unsure, consult a designer or other professional so you can be pleased with the outcome.

Carolyn Muse Grant is a founder and past president of the Architectural &Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Send questions to

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