Warming Up a New House
Moving into a new home is an exciting time, with neighbors to meet and adventures to discover. But the excitement won’t turn blank walls and bare windows into a welcoming home interior. Libby Langdon, a New York-based interior designer, TV personality and author, has made houses feel like homes for hundreds of clients through the years. Here she shares her simple secrets to creating warm, inviting spaces.
The most-used room in the home should convey warmth and welcome at first sight, or rather, at first step. Coziness starts underfoot. "Rugs make rooms feel comfortable," says Langdon. "They add texture and warmth to an otherwise cold surface." If you can't find a finished rug you like, but see a piece of carpet you adore, ask the store to have it cut and bound into a rug. If it's a remnant, you'll pay less than buying a rug, and get just what you want.
Floor to ceiling draperies are a superior way to add warmth to a room in two ways. Drapes add aesthetic value by drawing the eye upward, making the room look bigger. They also serve a practical purpose by blocking cold drafts during the winter and reducing hot sunrays during the summer.
Mount drapery hardware 10 inches outside either side of the window frame. That way the drapes will stack on the wall when opened, instead of blocking valuable natural light from the room.
Add personality to a jaunt up the stairs by lining the way with family photos. Use photos of all types (color, black-and-white, sepia), frame them in varying shapes, styles and colors, and arrange them as you would a collage.
If you're bringing framed pictures from your former home, now is the time to update them. "Refresh old photos with new frames, and add new images to your collection," advises Langdon. "You want to create the feeling that this is your new space, not just any new space."
Whether you call it the foyer, "foy-yeah" or just the front hall, the entrance to your new home speaks volumes. A large mirror can be just the thing to enliven the space. No matter how small your entryway, a large mirror visually opens up the area, reflects light and makes a welcoming statement to visitors.
Usually the room that takes the longest to arrange is the kitchen, and good organization here is essential to a smoothly running household. Placement of dishes, pots and silverware shouldn't be random.
Stand next to your dishwasher as if you were about to empty it. Are you right-handed or left-handed? What is the most natural direction to unload plates, glasses and silverware? Locate the nearest, most convenient drawers and cabinets, and you'll have the most efficient places for these everyday items.
Don't be afraid to paint your kitchen a bold hue. Color will make it come alive. It's also a great way to infuse your personality into the room without taking on too much work. "Most kitchens have little open wall space," says Langdon. "So it's a low-commitment project." If you want to bring a new paint color into play, but need to use existing furnishings, incorporate a bit of the existing color as an accent or accessory to make everything work together.
If new color on the walls isn't your game, try it on the floor instead. "Place a brightly colored runner in front of the sink," advises Langdon. Don't worry about heavy foot traffic. There’s a great selection of inexpensive indoor/outdoor rugs on the market that make for a small investment and easy clean-up. Many can be cleaned outdoors with a water hose!