To change one’s life: Start immediately. And do it flamboyantly.

– William James

Want to create a fresh new change in your life? Just open your eyes and look at where you live. With a little effort and thinking outside the box, you can reinvent the space you call home without spending a dime. The results: a brand-new feeling and energy around you that serves as a reset to start the new year.

And you can do it immediately. Just grab your partner, kids, or some friends and start by emptying a room you want to change. Remove art from walls and unplug lamps. Then move everything into an adjacent room – furniture, pillows, plants, pictures, accessories and anything else that has been there for a while.

Why Empty the Room

This suggestion is backed by experience. I started my design business by redecorating homes without buying anything. I learned that you can make changes more easily by totally emptying a room first to create a blank slate to work with.  This allows you to see elements from other rooms in a new way that will add a fresh presence and energy to the space.

A picture of the cottage during the 1998 remodel.
The cottage during the 1998 remodel.

Here’s an example:  Bob and Pat live in a 100-year-old cottage on a redwood-covered hillside in northern California. They remodeled their living room in 1998 by covering the pitched sheetrock ceilings with bead board, installing a rustic beam at the apex and recycled lintels in passageways, and adding a bookcase to display their collections.

They furnished it with an overstuffed sofa opposite the fireplace, two similar chairs facing the sofa, and a large traditional tufted leather ottoman as a coffee table. But several years ago, the couple grew tired of the once-trendy furniture and wanted a change.

Picture of Before image of the living room after the remodel.
The living room after the 1998 remodel

The Gift That Initiated Change

When friends gifted Bob and Pat with a large contemporary sofa that would not fit in their new home, it prompted the couple to give away their dated living room furniture. The new sofa fit beautifully into the adjacent family room, replacing a comfortable transitional sofa that Pat and Bob moved into the living room along with two faux leather ink blue chairs we found at a local furniture store.

The sofa and chairs, a large French reproduction coffee table, and two classic floor lamps from New York inherited from Pat’s mother, were all positioned around the room’s focal point, the dramatic red fireplace.

Picture for The new furniture plan changed the feeling in the room.
The new furniture plan changed the feeling in the room.

A New Color Palette

One day last fall, Pat helped a friend organize her sewing workroom in exchange for five handmade pillows. These new squares and rectangles of ink blue, purple, rust, teal, light blue and the classic red of the fireplace defined a new color palette. The pillows were made from luxurious fabric remnants Pat rescued while classifying the textiles by color. Two lush green plants now flank the fireplace, adding texture and cool tones to the warmly colored room.

The couple’s treasured collection of books, family photos, rocks and minerals remains in place in the bookcase, and newly-placed accessories from other rooms embellish the coffee table and fireplace. A glossy green Inuit polar bear sculpted in sandstone from Canada, previously hidden in low light in the family room, now gleams on the living room coffee table.

Picture of Today the living room boasts a mixture of styles.
Today the living room boasts a mixture of styles.

Timeless Avant-Garde Cottage

Today this vintage hillside cottage flaunts its avant-garde mixture of styles. The transitional sofa and edgy art deco chairs give the living space a sophisticated new feeling under the light of the classically rustic deer antler chandelier.

The abstract Japanese fabric on two throw pillows projects a modern feeling in contrast to the country fireplace and soft impressionist painting above. Many of the colors in the Japanese fabric relate to the hues in the traditional rug below. Now it’s impossible to label this unique room in one style, as the combination of genres, eras and locales makes the room timeless.

Image Japanese abstract fabric on two throw pillows project a modern feeling.
Japanese abstract fabric on two throw pillows project a modern feeling.

Introducing contrasting styles, a new color palette and arranging the furniture differently shifted the energy in the room and created a fresh feeling. The couple, their four-year-old lab, Casey, and their adult children now living in L.A. and Austin, relish coming home to the well-loved but unexpected cottage in the redwoods where they still enjoy lots of family time together.

Picture for the edgy arte deco chairs add sophistication to the room.
The edgy arte deco chairs add sophistication to the room.

Gift for the New Year

Bob and Pat were fortunate to receive the gifts of the contemporary sofa, coffee table, lamps and five new throw pillows. But even with no outside sources, you can reinvent a space by shopping in the rooms, garage, basement, attic, closets and garden of your home to find elements to use in a new way.

To receive my gift of 10 Steps to Transform the Look and Feeling of a Room Guide, click (here). It will help change the energy in the rooms you live your life in and reset your home for 2019!  Remember – think outside the box. Have fun creating fresh beauty in your home! And by all means – do it flamboyantly!

For the love of change,

Toby and Linda Applewhite
Image of Casey the dog at home in his living room
Casey at home in the new living room
Showing 3 comments
  • Liz Nichols

    This is a great idea. Great post today.

  • Norma Pendleton

    Love it. Great room decor

  • Sherrie Glendening

    I have to say that I adore both before and after rooms. Lucky homeowners!

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