Small Projects With Big Results

By Nancy Moffett

February is not one of my favorite months. The holidays are behind us; festive decorations have been packed away; and the long, dark nights seem never-ending. What to do while you wait for those first days of spring? This is the perfect time to take on an easy project that will lift your spirits and jazz up your surroundings at the same time.

Allentown Interior designer Lynda Somach has lots of suggestions, as do several other area business owners:

• To redo a room, work from the ground up, using a great piece of furniture or artwork as inspiration. “Artwork and accessories are most important in designing,” Somach advises. “There are many wonderful local artists who sell their work at low prices.” Find their work at galleries, the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, college art departments, even high schools, she suggests.

• Find a cool rug from which to pull your color palette. Either place it on the floor or hang it on a wall. Lowe’s and Home Depot carry great rugs at low prices, Somach says. Also, check out Home Decorators catalog for a large selection.

• Decide what you’re bored with or what doesn’t make you happy and replace it. For instance, change out an old cocktail table for a large ottoman. Pull a piece of furniture from another room and repurpose it, such as using an interesting desk as a mini-bar.

• Make a photo collage of your family history. “Pick out photos that you love and have them made into black-and-white or sepia tones,” Somach explains. “Put them into matching frames and hang them in a group.”

• Turn that seldom-used living room into a study or the dining room into a library.

Lisa Costa, owner of CertaPro Painters in Coopersburg, says painting is the easiest and most inexpensive way to spruce up your home. “Painting walls, trim and/or ceiling will not only update your home but also give it a ‘fresh,’ clean look,” she explains. Paint an accent wall for a pop of color and to define the space. “Pick a wall that is easily accessible so if you change your mind, it’s easy to re-paint.” The wall could be painted with stripes for a dramatic effect. Costa also recommends painting tired kitchen or bathroom cabinets and changing out the hardware for a quick facelift. Check with your paint store for the best product to use. Another suggestion is to give new life to an old furniture piece or flea market find by painting it a bold color and changing out the knobs.

Shane Smoyer, owner of Painting & Decorating by Shane, also advises you “theme” the room around artwork, rugs or furniture. “Look through catalogs and magazines for inspiration,” he says, and if you’re going to paint, “Don’t just change the color slightly, make it different.”

To add character to a dining room, add crown molding and a chair rail for a more formal look. “This adds a beautiful effect in builder homes,” he says. White trim and ceilings are still your best bet, while the ubiquitous dark red dining room is going out of style. “Use earth tones to make an eating area warm and inviting.” And, don’t be afraid to use wall covering on accent walls in a dining or family room. “People rule it out because they think it’s hard to remove,” he explains. If the surface is properly prepared, this isn’t the case. And, there are new types of wall coverings that are designed for
easy removal.

Color trends? Costa cites blues and greens, with blue becoming more popular. Purples, yellows, orange and poppy red are all in vogue. She sees bright colors for spring, stripes, patterns and florals (but not heavily detailed) as adding drama and life to rooms. Smoyer agrees, saying that slate blue and gray are enjoying resurgence as well.

A more ambitious project would be new countertops, backsplashes, shower stalls, tub surrounds and more, without the cost and mess of demolition, according to Dave Flood, owner of Granite Transformations in Bath. Templates are fitted over existing surfaces so the work can be done in just a day. Offerings include Trend Stone, Trend Glass and Trend Mosaic. Glass counters and mosaics contain up to 80% recycled materials, while stone materials use reclaimed stone slabs when possible, making this change eco-friendly as well as less costly than conventional installs.

For the latest fashion color trends, go to, Pinterest (2013 color home décor), Benjamin Moore’s Color Trends or use Sherwin Williams’ Color Visualizer to try out colors before you paint. CertaPro’s website also has “Envision” magazine for more painting ideas. (

If, after doing your research and considering your options, you still don’t have a vision, Somach recommends hiring an interior decorator for an in-home consultation. “You’ll save money in the long run by not making mistakes. A plan can be done in one or two sessions at about $150 an hour,” she says, and you can carry out the project feeling confident in your choices.

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