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The Big Fix: Home Redecorating

We brought in New York interior designer John Loecke to make over this suburban home with practical decorating solutions just right for this family of six.

By Judy Prouty

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The Big Fix: Home Redecorating
Wendell T. Webber
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Jill and Mike Poveda's turn-of-the-century home in suburban New York is loaded with distinctive details -- carved wood paneling, coffered ceilings and window seats. "I loved the house because it reminded me of where I grew up," says Jill. But the furnishings, which hadn't changed since the Povedas moved in seven years ago, didn't live up to the structure's built-in charm. The monochromatic living area lacked flair and seating was in short supply. The drab dining room needed a snappy color fix, not to mention better lighting. "I've wanted a change, but I'm afraid of making expensive shopping mistakes," Jill says. Enter New York interior designer John Loecke, who created a plan for a modern, bright update perfectly suited to this active family's needs.

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The hang of it: Loecke switched out the existing sheers for curtains with an abstract design that add dash and still let sunlight through.

Window panels, West Elm

Extra credit: An antique farm table replaces the worn-down dinette set. "It never goes out of style and has a kid-friendly surface for homework and games," Loecke says.

Well-grounded: A graphic rug provides a splash of color in an otherwise neutral dining room.

Rug, Shades of Light

Be seated: "The black-and-white chairs are a new take on a Windsor style," says Loecke. "Mixing in chrome pieces gives the room a contemporary twist."

All dining chairs, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

Side show: A slim chest of drawers against the wall makes good use of what was otherwise wasted space and can store napkins, silverware and dishes.

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Sitting pretty: "A cushy yet tailored sectional sofa encourages lounging and offers more seating than the previous couch and chair arrangement," says Loecke.

Sofa, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

Holding power: Loecke placed two wood-plank-topped metal tables -- complete with storage shelves underneath -- in front of the sofa. "The combo doesn't overwhelm the space like one large design would," he says. A third table placed on the side provides solid footing for lighting.

Tables, Ballard Designs

Floor play: Soft slip-covered poufs team up as extra seating for anywhere in the room. "Plus the bold patterns deliver a kick," notes Loecke.

Poufs, West Elm

Mix master: To keep a classic setting from looking stuffy, Loecke introduces an assortment of prints -- ikat patterns, stripes and geometrics. Pops of yellow, blue and red help punch up neutral fabrics and walls.

Details count: The rustic wood drum table adds spice and can hold drinks and snacks. Multiple light sources in a variety of heights and styles are more visually interesting than a matched set of lamps.

Table, World Market

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Shelf help: A vintage dresser displays serving pieces and a few well-chosen accessories. Peppy cushions transform the window seat into a cozy perch. Built-in shelves are ideal for stockpiling platters, bowls and table linens.

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Design on a Dime

Wallet-friendly ideas to jump-start your makeover

  • Take a photo of your room to evaluate the traffic patterns and seating arrangements. Decide which items work and which need to be changed. Ask yourself: Is there too little furniture or not enough? Do the colors make you happy? Is there plenty of light from floor and table lamps?
  • Rearrange the furniture to give a room a quick facelift. Reposition a sofa in front of a fireplace or pull the dining room table closer to a window. A new vantage point can make a big difference.
  • Shop your house first. With a coat of white lacquer, an old chest swiped from the attic can be used as a sideboard in the dining room. Put a fresh spin on the bedroom by breaking up identical night stands and moving one next to the family-room sofa.
  • Pull out any items that look too big and clunky -- they make a space appear crowded and disorderly. Consider bringing in pieces with reflective surfaces and a lightweight look, like a glass coffee table or a couple of wicker chairs.
  • Ruthlessly declutter. Edit down accessories and clear out messy bookshelves. Jettison anything that doesn't fit your scheme.
  • Let favorite items be focal points. Arrange a stack of books on the coffee table with a couple of pretty vases or cluster multicolor candlesticks together on a tray.

Originally published in the May 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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