The Sacramento Bee

The Sacramento Bee

August 28, 2010

Article: The Sacramento Bee, Home Improvement / Decorating

Published: Saturday, Aug. 28, 2010

Designers heed a cry for help — even for a bedroom

Some rooms scream – Help!

Others say nothing, and that's a problem, too.

Take the typical bedroom. Michael Payne has seen thousands, just this month.

“The bedroom tends to get forgotten – you spend all your money elsewhere in the house,” said Payne, a celebrity interior designer and makeover specialist best known for his “Designing For The Sexes” series on HGTV. “You end up with a totally forgettable room that you don't want your best friend to see.”

Helping people find indoor harmony – particularly at affordable prices – is a common challenge for designers. Instead of moving, homeowners are staying put and trying to make the most of their current house.

“This has been the busiest year I've ever had,” said Folsom interior designer Jennifer FaGalde. “Absolutely, a lot of people are wanting to stay put and put money into their own home instead of moving.”

“They're creating a nest within their own space,” she added. “People are staying home more now than they did five, 10 years ago. They want a sanctuary where they can relax.”

But where to start? Today at Arizona Tile in Rancho Cordova, the local chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers will host its first Design Day, an opportunity to get expert perspective on a budget. FaGalde will be among the designers offering 45 minutes of consultation for $45. Walk-ins are welcome.

“Bring measurements of the room, photos and ideas,” FaGalde said. “Obviously, you can't design a whole house in 45 minutes, but it might get people kick-started on a project they've been thinking about for a long time.”

“ A lot of people have never worked with a designer before. This is a comfortable way to meet people, see what might work and learn a lot – at a great price.”

Paint, lighting and flooring are three of the easiest, quickest and least expensive ways to update a room, say the experts. At Design Day, vendors representing Benjamin Moore Paint, Lighting Design by Light Bulbs Plus and Arizona Tile will be on hand to help stimulate discussion.

Arizona Tile's in-house designer Emitt Isaacks, who is also working on Design Day, advises people to start makeovers with a very basic question: Who lives in your home?

“A retired couple is very different than a family with young kids. They have different needs and considerations,” he said. “Don't forget dogs and cats. Pets influence (design) decisions, too. Then, start thinking about style – modern, traditional, old-school – and color.”

FaGalde points to two recent makeovers she completed in Sacramento. A typical home in the Pocket area needed a radical update for its kitchen and three bathrooms. A Land Park house started with a termite invasion and ended up with a remodeled family/ living/dining room.

“The Pocket house was a real challenge,” she said. “The bathrooms all had walls separating the toilet area. They had a closed-in feeling, the style of homes 25 years ago. And the rooms were so dark.”

The answer: “We knocked down walls, gutted to zero and started from scratch,” she said. “We added new lighting. It made a huge difference.”

In the aftermath of fixing termite damage, the Land Park homeowners started with paint and flooring, but then decided to update with new window coverings, crown molding and fireplace tile.

“It really transformed the space,” FaGalde said.

Lighting is key, “especially in older homes,” she added. “They're too dark. Lighting enhances your space and shows off the investment you put into it. You spend money on paint and flooring, you want to be able to see it.”

Room makeovers are a staple of home and garden media, spurring TV series and online contests.

As for those bedrooms, makeover specialist Payne, based in Los Angeles, is serving as a judge of the Big Bad Bedroom Break-Up contest, sponsored by online home goods outlet CSN Stores. More than 6,200 people entered to win a $10,000 makeover of their bedroom with two region residents – Michael Brook of Nevada City and Caren Etta of Chico – among the semi- finalists. (Vote for your pick at CSN Stores' Facebook page.)

Cordoned off with crime scene tape, Brook's bedroom epitomizes a “mishmash of mismatched items,” said Payne.

Brook admitted, “I wonder when mauve pillows, a celery bedspread, periwinkle blinds and a brown carpet ever made the heart race.”

“When I saw his entry, I couldn't help but laugh,” Payne said. “Overall, there's nothing particularly attractive about this room. Nothing that says I want to stay there. It's a desperate cry for help.”

Etta, a working mom with three sons, made do with a secondhand bedroom. “All of my furniture was either obtained as a hand-me-down or a yard sale find,” she said. “I have never had any 'nice' bedroom furniture. Nor has it ever matched.”

That's an all-too-common dilemma – making do with leftovers, Payne said.

“Most people have furniture that was given them. They never would have bought it,” he said. “It becomes an obligation and very unfair. … Instead, people should surround themselves with things they love. And remember: Less is more.”

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