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Like floors, furnishings should have long-term appeal

May 17, 2013

Hardwood floors, such as Anderson's Hermosa Plank collection, have the kind of staying power that Philadelphia interior designer Donna Hoffman looks for when she decorates a room.

Over the years, Hoffman has whittled down her design method to a few guidelines for choosing colors, adding quick touches and selecting long-term buys such as sofas. Those rules can be applied to home design regardless of what room she's decorating.

Deconstruct colors
Hoffman's first step is to "deconstruct" the existing color palette rather than changing it altogether. For instance, if blue doesn't work any longer as the main wall color, it can become the accent hue instead. Flipping main and secondary colors in a room allows homeowners to retain the major furnishings that go with them.

Once a new accent color is chosen, it's time to neutralize the room by taking out other strong colors that will compete with it. Remove all the area rugs, throw pillows, accessories and dated wallpapers - anything that is too reminiscent of the old color palette.

"Keep only the 'new' accent color, letting everything else go neutral," Hoffman said. "By project's end, you'll be left with an accent color that gorgeously pops amidst a new palette of neutrals."

Reinvigorate quickly
Throw pillows are an easy target when reinvigorating an existing room design, according to House Beautiful magazine. They are among the most inexpensive elements in a room, but they are highly visible and useful as well.

Older upholstered furniture, in particular, can get new life from neutral-colored accent pillows in different shapes and sizes.

Hang new window coverings
Hoffman encourages her clients to get rid of window treatments that look dated and replace them with simple, classic styles that go with many furniture styles.

Making a window a focal point in a room is easy considering the number of treatments available. From the rich traditional look of wooden blinds - that can be matched to a room's wood floors - to stylish roman shades, homeowners have a wide range from which to choose.

Selecting sofas
The sofa is a major component in most living rooms, dens and family rooms. A bold-colored or patterned sofa can be toned down with neutral pillows. If the upholstery is worn or the sofa has an outdated couch silhouette, slipcovers may be needed to create a new presence.

When buying a new sofa, solid colors and classic design lines will stay in style longest.