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HomeHome and GardenDo it Yourself with Carol Charny: Order in the House

Do it Yourself with Carol Charny: Order in the House

Ok, it’s January now and we’re all in the post-holiday doldrums. The seasonal festivities are over and all that is left to do is to take down the tree, put all those ornaments away for another year and vacuum up the needles. A woman’s work is never done as they say and ‘they know what they are talking about’. So what to do about this situation? You’re probably looking around the house and thinking I need to do something to lift my spirits, brighten my home and get my house in order at the same time. You spent most of the “disposable money” on others last month so what can you do to perk things up in a decorative and useful way that doesn’t cost real money?

Pantry : before
Pantry: after

Let’s brainstorm. Look around the homestead critically. Can you de-clutter, re-organize and thereby transform the mundane into a space that is so cleverly set that the ordinary becomes functional and attractive? You can get a lot of ‘bang for the buck’ simply by organizing and categorizing what has been accumulating over the past months. Even something like every day cleaning products can be transformed from un-appealing clutter to easily located necessities if it is organized attractively. Just take a look at the “before” in my house if you think you have it bad! Try assembling ‘like items’ by use and color to bring some symmetry and style to the closet. Nobody cares about these necessary evils but if you display the blue Windex next to the blue Mop and Glo bottle which can be adjacent to blue sponges etc. You get a certain beauty from that organizational trump.

What can you paint to spruce up? Take a trip to the paint store to peruse the possibilities that could energize and re-form a dull space into a compelling focal point simply with color? You do not have to paint an entire room to give a “lift” to the space. There is the 1970’s paint-one- wall- a contrasting- color solution that works easily. You can continue the color around the room or use that wall as an accent. You can add crown molding to the right angle between the wall and the ceiling and thereby open and add an upscale element to the room. Or merely re-paint the baseboard to freshen the room up a bit.

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If you haven’t painted in a year or so you probably have dark marks from vacuum cleaner dings or merely from general family use. Fresh paint not only cleans things up but has the power to transform. (I love Benjamin Moore’s Linen White in Semi-gloss finish for general use on trim but no one ever said the molding, or the ceiling for that matter, has to be a white). Paint moldings a contrast color like black or charcoal gray for a modern architectural look against a neutral wall.

For example, I recently painted a ceiling in a powder room with a spectacular metallic color called “warm silver “ which transformed the space so completely that when the bridge group arrived they couldn’t begin to play for 20 minutes until they had fully examined and exclaimed over the new look of the room! Check out Modern Masters for the most beautiful array of easy to use metallic paints, available at any store that sells Benjamin Moore.

Table: before.

How about re-birthing an accent piece in an unexpected color like turquoise,

Table after: The table is re-painted in Benjamin Moore's Pumpkin Cream in egg shell finish, embellished with gold colored "leaf style" ribbon from May Arts and attached with hot glue to the edge of the table. The top has a new circular mirror custom cut to fit the top. The center circular support of the table also has the leaf ribbon applied along its center with three gold and blue rhinestone vintage buttons evenly placed around the circle.

red, or ‘Hermes box’ orange? Consider an occasional chair, a mirror or table as candidates for this transformation?

Remember to give the piece a light sanding as prep so that the paint adheres to the surface. Think about adding a mirrored or glass top to the table like magic you have an exciting, unexpected, new look that can add the sizzle to a tired or muted room.

Make a paper template for the top of the piece if it is not a geometric square or circle shape, or bring the piece to the mirror/glass shop to fabricate the piece for you inexpensively. I use A Kuritzsky on Mamaroneck Avenue for this type of project.

Consider painting or wall papering the inside of the book shelf with grass cloth wallpaper or apply in an unexpected color or pattern. Cover the back and the sides of the opening. Make the bookshelf special and a focal point instead of merely a storage space. You can find wall paper remnants on line. If you employ the” paint it” idea use the small containers of color available as testers from your local paint store.
Are you energized? So make it happen. You’ll be glad you did and so will your family and friends.

Carol Charny’s  eponymous store in Larchmont was a popular source of gifts and ideas for nearly a decade. She is available for consultations at


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11 years ago

This is very helpful. I think I will tackle my closet now. You have inspired me!

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