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.

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A Much-Needed Update

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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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Pops Of Color

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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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A More Modern Lounge

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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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Dishes On Display

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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

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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.