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DIY decoration

Ted Alvarez

VAIL As the days get colder and shorter, a new crop of citizens will descend into our fair valley, and some of them will stay forever. Many of these new Vail-ites will participate in a hallowed tradition in these parts, where housing can be tough to to find: Theyll settle for their first ski-bum hovel a dark, unkempt and perhaps smelly hole without an ounce of style. Whats worse, some of us have never gotten out of it.But there is hope. Forthwith, some of the Vail Valleys most sought-after interior designers share their tips and trade secrets, out of the simple goodness of their hearts, so the hapless can turn their craptacular condos into fabulous flats. And because a good percentage of Vail newcomers and veterans alike dont bathe in cash, these tips are designed to get maximum effect for minimum dollar.As Patti Dixon, owner and principal designer of Morningstar Interior Design in Edwards, said: No matter what your budget restraints are, theres always possibility.

The first thing to do, I think, is rearrange what you already have, said Marilyn Smith Heaney of Slifer Designs. Dont be afraid to borrow or switch items for other rooms, especially if they look like what youre going for. Its an extremely inexpensive way to get a fresh, new look.Hovel-dwellers should also keep in mind that dirt and clutter make apartments seem, well, dirtier and more cluttered.Before you buy anything, go for a great housecleaning, Heaney said. When things sparkle as much as they can, it freshens things up.

Nearly all of our expert designers agree that painting is the easiest way to completely alter the mood of a room or an apartment.Nothing speaks louder than the right paint color, said Linda Massey, chief designer of Alpen Interiors. The wrong shade of a paint color, along with the reflection of the light, can make a huge difference.I always say, Talk is cheap and color is cheap, Dixon said. Its the easy way to change your whole scene.Paint is a great bang for your buck, Heaney said. If you don’t have a lot of money for even paint, just paint accents, like an accent wall.

No one not even you burly dudes should underestimate the power of a feminine touch. Fresh flowers introduce warmth, scents and seasonal accents at minimal cost.Flowers are a huge way to brighten up a room, Massey said. Add fresh flowers or items appropriate to the season, Heaney said. Around now, mini-pumpkins, squash gourds and fall leaves would connect your room to fall.Heaney also reminds redecorators not to ignore senses beyond the visual: Scents can change ambience as much as any colorful flourish.If people like aromatherapy, you can get a new feeling by just adding a fragrance, she said. Fragrance crystals or candles can make a space more romantic, especially with the light (they create) at night. It makes an interior looks totally different.

People should consider how comfortable their sofa is because it makes all the difference in the world, Massey said. People often forget to check the depth and feel of the fabric and go on looks alone.Heaney encourages even the frugal to spend a bit of money on window dressings and area rugs, which can often be purchased for fair prices from catalogs like Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, West Elm and Smith & Noble.You can frame your window using well-priced, ready-made drapery hardware or decorative drapery panels from catalogs, Heaney said. An inexpensive area rug, coupled with some accent pillows, can really pull a seating area together.Massey also insists that the sofa principle also applies to the bedroom arguably where it counts the most.You really need to try a mattress before you buy it or have it delivered, she said. For obvious reasons, its very important.

When in doubt, think like the experts and follow the design principles they use with their clients. After years of practice, most of them can eyeball a room and pick out the pitfalls common among the inexperienced.I most often see that they havent paid attention to the scale of the room if a large chair is in style, they buy it, and it takes too much space, Massey said. A lot of the condos are really small, and you have to pay attention to scale.Its important to think outside the box the way youve always had it doesnt have to be the way it is in the future, Dixon said. What I look to see is if their personal desires and function of space fits with their existing living conditions; usually I find theyre quite different.Lighting is also a key component, Massey said. Accent lighting to highlight artwork is great, but you should never overlook task lighting the right lighting for reading a book or eating at a table, for example.If all else fails, even the penniless can walk into a showroom to get inspiration.Its easy to come in to a store, and most people are happy to walk through with you, Heaney said. You can get fresh ideas right then and there without buying things from the showroom. It starts to get the process going, and things get exciting when you see all the possibilities planned out for you.Arts & Entertainment Writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or talvarez@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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