Home Decorating Tips

By Fabiana Santana

Home Decorating TipsOffering a host of workshops and activities with expert advice on financial management and home buying information.  The Casa Latina Home Expo, sponsored by Chase was held November 9, 2013 at the historic Altman Building in New York City, and featured expert advice such as home repair (DIY/How-To, Decor), parenting, home health, and home safety. In addition, the expo offers live how-to-clinics, product giveaways, cooking demonstrations, a kid’s zone, and cultural entertainment.

The event focuses on helping Latino families create an aesthetically appealing, highly functional, and safe home environment that positions them to achieve their goals and live the best life they can. It embodies Casa Latina’s mission and vision of empowering Hispanic families to improve their homes and lives by offering a path to sustainable home ownership.

We caught up with co-founders Marlene Pratt and Nora Diaz Bretherton and got some decorating tips that will make any starter house or apartment a home in no time and on a budget.

What are your top tips for decorating in a budget?

1.   Paint

Painting is the best inexpensive investment you can make to any home. It also gives the most dramatic result. Put your fears aside and add color to those dingy walls for a fresh new look and feel.  To make a paint job go a lot smoother consider Benjamin Moore’s, Regal Select or Aura Interior Paint, they both come with built in primer.

2.   Do-It-Yourself
Savings come from not hiring others to do what you can do yourself.  But be honest with yourself and take on projects you are certain that you can start and finish on your own. For example, take on multiple painting projects though out the house: add a new back-splash to your existing kitchen; finally add blinds to all those exposed windows in your home.  And if you feel a bit fearless, consider going as far as removing a non-retaining/non -structural wall.  These are all money saving projects that will allow you to show pride in your work and allow you to spend a bit more $$$$$ on other areas of the home.

3.   Reuse Items You Already Have

You do not have to buy everything new to turn your pad into a dream home. Take a second look at what you already have that may be sitting in a corner collecting dust or hiding in a closet, attic garage or basement.  Reinvent a drab old piece of furniture; make a slipcover for an old but sturdy sofa with colorful new fabric. Allow your imagination to run wild and I promise that your style as well as your budget will stretch further.

How can someone transform their first apartment into a “home”?

The first apartment is always a big deal whether you are male or female.  Your first apartment is your first opportunity to have a living space that wholly reflects who you are and where you’ve been.  (Not your parents) There are no rules to follow. This is your new place and you should make it whatever you want it to be.

New stuff, everyone wants new, but a home is not a home until you permit yourself to reconnect with something from your past.  Moms always put certain treasures aside for our future use, so ask mom and bring something in unto your new pad that has memories that are sure to put a smile on your face on a daily basis.

Many first apartments are a combination of new and old.  I believe in eclectic design, meaning that not everything has to be matchy, matchy. Mixing pieces such as a Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman and your grandmother’s 1920 console table are fine in my book as long as they compliment each other.

I suggest you take your time before running out and buying everything you see. Allow yourself the luxury of getting to know the feel of your space.   You have to live in the space awhile and get to understand what your style is, and how to integrate it, on what will likely be a budget. So if you run out and purchase everything at once you run the risk of “outgrowing” and disliking your purchases faster.  Furthermore, this is the best time to train yourself to be clutter free.

Painting a wallHow can we make a small room look larger?

In order to make a shoebox apartment or a tiny room appear larger we must learn to think outside the box. Designing a small space is much more challenging.

A small space demands organization, thus multipurpose furniture should always be considered. Beds with built in storage are a great option, and not all of them are ugly. Lighting is another key element in opening up a space. If possible allow Mother Nature in at all hours of the day. You will be amazed at how this will open up the space and make it appear larger. If natural lighting is not an option get creative and play with some light effects. Make sure to use sheer panels on all your windows. This will allow more light in and connect you with the outside as well.

Cut the cutter, nothing makes a small space seem smaller than a room full of little pieces of furniture. I recommend that you buy larger and fewer. Try not to cover your walls with many frames. Instead use a larger painting.  For rugs lovers, please stay away from the tiny ones, they always seem lost within any room. If a rug is what you desired buy a good size rug that will add texture, color and a more luxurious feel to your small space.

How much would you suggest investing in a first apartment, design wise?

How much to invest really depends on whether you own the apartment or rent.  For renters I would not suggest investing in structural changes or large scale renovations.  Stick to elements which will enhance the look of the space, but that do not require major investments such as changing light fixtures or replacing existing floors. Consider integrating area rugs and possibly giving your kitchen a mini-face lift by painting wall a more exciting color.

If you own your apartment, then adding value and making it aesthetically appealing should be the goal. Your first investment should be to upgrade the kitchen if it has not already been done. Not only will a kitchen makeover add value to you property, but it is the gathering place of the home so you want to make sure it is functional and inviting.  The next upgrade should be the bathroom if it has not already been upgraded. Mini upgrades could consist of replacing the medicine cabinet, disposing of the old outdated toilet with a new low-flow toilet and even replacing the vanity cabinet, sink and faucet.

What are ideal color palates for making a room appear larger?

As a general rule, lighter colors help a room look bigger, but that does not mean that a bold color on a single wall should not be considered.  The colors you select for your walls are important, but lighting and furniture placement are just as important for they also play a big roll on how large your space may appear.

Choosing the right color palette for a small space can be a challenge. Not only do we want to avoid selecting the wrong color, but we also don’t want to make our space smaller than it actually is.

  1.     White:

White is differently the most commonly used color for small spaces. While it may not be the most exciting color, it is undeniably the safest color to start with. When uncertain, white is the way to go because it will never make your home seem smaller.

   2.     Light Colored Neutrals:

The light colored neutrals are an amazing range of colors because they give the homeowner the option to select colors that will never make their homes seem smaller. The colors range from light tans, sand colors, beige, ivory and sage. The reason this color schemes works so well, is because the neutrals are one with Mother Nature.

   3.     Pastels:

The Pastels are a great color scheme for homeowners who want a stronger touch of color but are still concerned with their homes appearing larger. Pastels colors range from pale blues, greens, yellows and pink. Yes Pink!

  1. Accent Colors:

Accent colors, can either break or make the design. If done correctly the finished look can make your home look like a million bucks. If done incorrectly your trim will overwhelm the space and give you the illusion of a smaller space. Think before you selecting your trim color. Try to pick a shade slightly lighter or darker than the color on your wall.

If not certain of what color to select take a look at The Benjamin Moors Shades Of Life page (benjaminmoore.com/en-us/welcome-to-benjamin-moore) and you are sure to discover the color palette that reflects your unique style.