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Wherever you live, chances are there are a few things about your home you'd like to change. As best-selling author and television host Debbie Travis points out in her introduction, "Decorating is an ongoing process. Each time you change your address, or even if you stay in the same place, the process of adapting your home to suit your changing moods and needs is constant, because, in truth, no room is perfect." But often we look around at a new home with large expanses of white walls, or someone else's color scheme, or an apartment that hasn't been painted in years, and we simply don't know where to start. In Debbie Travis' Decorating Solutions, Travis has gathered together her best ideas for solving the most common decorating dilemmas plaguing homeowners and renters alike.
The book begins with a valuable outline of the proper steps for preparing a variety of surfaces and gives a complete rundown on paints, glazes, plaster, sealants, and materials, including helpful descriptions of different tools and basic instructions on stenciling, block painting, and plastering. Next, because working with color can be intimidating at first, a section on color will help you choose the right one for your needs. Then, taking the commonsense approach of accentuating the positive and camouflaging the negative, Travis offers imaginative solutions to problems ranging from cracked walls to damaged floors, from outdated kitchen cabinetry to dreary bathroom tiles. Included are ideas and complete step-by-step instructions for more than 65 different paint, plaster, and paper finishes for transforming walls, floors, ceilings, doors, fireplaces, bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, and staircases, all without the fuss of major renovation.
Lavishly illustrated with more than 400 full-color photographs and packed with practical information, Debbie Travis' Decorating Solutions is an inspiration for anyone who wants to bring out the best in a home.
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Debbie Travis is the author of the best-selling Debbie Travis' Painted House and the creator and host of the internationally acclaimed television series The Painted House, which currently airs in more than fifty countries around the world, including nationally on U.S. Public Television stations. She lives in Canada.
Barbara Dingle is a former magazine editor and is currently writing in the decorating and design fields. She is also coauthor of the award-winning Debbie Travis' Painted House.
Just as the windows are the eyes of a house, the walls, floors, and ceilings are the soul. You don't need much to make them beautiful.
Decorating is an ongoing process. Each time you change your address, or even if you stay in the same place, the process of adapting your home to suit your changing moods and needs is constant, because, in truth, no room is perfect. It's either too big or too small, too modern for your taste or too old-fashioned; the ceilings are too low or too high, and the floor is old or unfinished. Unless you have had the luxury of planning and building a new home from the bottom up--and maybe even then too--there will always be things about the design and colors you'll want to change.
However, when faced with a new set of walls, many of us are stumped. We look around a new home with large expanses of plain white walls or somebody else's color scheme, or an apartment that hasn't been painted in years, and we simply don't know where to start. I imagine that you, like me, wouldn't try to tackle the whole house or apartment at the same time. That could be overwhelming. Instead, you might have a general plan for the whole house but work on one room at a time. Decide what you like and don't like about the room, what its best features are and where the problems lie. It's important to focus on your living space and recognize the individual parts that make up the whole picture.
Take some time to think about your home's different features, the good and the bad, the walls, floors, and ceilings that compose each room. Make a list of what you love about your home--it could be as simple as a pretty window that looks out onto a garden, or an impressive skyline, or interesting architectural details such as carved moldings or trim. Perhaps the floors are new or freshly refinished, or there's a fireplace perfectly situated in the family room. Small rooms or extra space under the stairs can also be special features, just the right size for a cozy study or intimate seating arrangement. Or maybe the kitchen is what sold you on the house, offering modern appliances and a clever layout that translates into less work for you.
Now go through your home, mentally or physically, and think about what bothers you the most. It could be as simple as changing the color of the walls, or it may go beyond that. What about the choice of building materials? Floors, doors, kitchens, and bathrooms may be serviceable but built with products like veneer paneling, plywood, and stock cabinetry that are economical but don't suit your tastes. Pointy stucco ceilings are an all-too-common sight in new apartments and houses, and in older homes, and the rough texture of this stucco can be an eyesore. Anything in poor repair exudes an aura of neglect. Cracked walls, peeling paint or wallpaper, waterstained ceilings, wood floors, doors or trim that have split or splintered, and built up layers of dirt are negative features you will want to change.
Now that you have a good idea of what you have and what you like, as well as what you'd rather not see, you've reached your starting point in the decorating process. In order to be happy with your surroundings, the solution (short of extensive remodeling) is to accentuate the positive and camouflage or at least diminish the negatives with your decorating choices. Most of us use these two methods when we decorate, as it's not feasible to change everything at once, and if you're renting some things can't be changed at all. The combination works every time.
If you have a home, you have walls, and whether they're high or low, they are a canvas to dress up any room. Tall walls imbue a room with the airy, luxurious feeling of open space. If you're fortunate enough to have high ceilings, make the most of a good thing. If you have a small room with ordinary furniture, make the walls an interesting design and that is what people will see. Weathered wallboards and stenciled wall paneling would suit old boards in a country home. Attic rooms take their shape and personality from the slope of the roof--to emphasize the charming curve of an unorthodox meeting of ceiling and wall, nothing compares to a painted border. Hardwood floors in good condition are magni cent: a simple high gloss varnish will intensify the wood's rich tones and graining so that they shine during the day and give off a soft gleam at night. There are many ways to enhance specific features that you love.
Paint is an incredibly versatile decorating tool. Because you can paint over virtually any surface, you have the power to change the look of any room simply by adding a coat or two of paint. Painted finishes do a remarkable job of covering up uneven or less than perfect surfaces.
When you're faced with out of date or run-down kitchens or bathrooms and costly replacements have to wait, use paint to create a diversion with a lively backsplash to diminish the effect of a stained or cracked counter; apply a wall finish with life and luster to offset the color of yesterday's ho-hum bathroom tiles. Transform building materials such as wood veneer, plywood, or laminate with a layer of paint or stenciled and stamped motifs. Unattractive floors can be enlivened with simple stains, geometric stenciled designs or other patterns. Break up a large unbroken expanse of wall space with a decorative panel or dado. By applying different blocks or sections of color to a wall surface, you can effectively reshape any space to suit your needs. A fireplace is usually the focal point of any room, and there are numerous ways to dress it up to suit your space. Change the look with paint alone, or by building detail with fiberboard and trim and then adding a finish that imitates real stone, metal or tilework.
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