How to freshen up your home
A complete redecorating of your home is costly and time-consuming, but freshening up rooms with selected changes is more manageable.
"Home design is very personal and must fit how each client lives, but I suggest to homeowners who are planning to sell soon that they strip off all wallpaper and paint the walls in a neutral color," said Deb Watson, owner of Acanthus Design of Barrington. "If, on the other hand, they are planning to stay in the home, we often choose to create an accent wall in the living room, family room or master bedroom, using a specialty paint or wallpaper.
"In general, wallpaper is still a popular choice, but only in powder rooms and master bathrooms," she added.
Other new wall looks Watson is seeing include trim painted black, off-white or beige instead of the standard white and natural wood. She is also noting a trend toward homeowners choosing to paint their ceilings in a color other than the standard white.
Stone ledger panels featuring sections of thinly stacked pieces of stone are also making a comeback, particularly in bathrooms, as kitchen backsplashes and over top of dated fireplaces. They create a nice dimension in these areas and can be used instead of tile, Watson said.
Those updating kitchens and bathrooms also often invest in new cabinets. While homeowners often gravitate toward white cabinetry, Watson steers them instead toward wood, feeling it is a better, more timeless choice.
When it comes to windows, many homeowners are choosing plantation shutters, Roman shades and sheer vertical or horizontal shades, sometimes with side panel drapes as a finishing. Valances and cornices have been largely replaced by decorative poles with fancy finials, Watson said.
She is also noticing a trend toward reframing or de-framing existing wall art. Millennials, in particular, often frame items in black or choose not to frame their artwork and photos at all.
Michael Walsh, owner of O'Reilly's Furniture in Libertyville, has a bird's eye seat on the furniture that today's homeowners are choosing when they want to update or add excitement to a room in their home.
"Those who are freshening up their homes today generally tend toward maple furniture, often quarter-sawn maple. And others who want a newer, more unique look with a feathery grain, opt for elm," he said.
Across the upholstery and leather lines, Walsh said that browns, beiges and grays are still the dominant choices, but blue in all shades is coming on strong among accent pieces, as are darker reds like terra cotta.
"And when it comes to upholstery fabrics, we are mainly seeing abstract blendings of colors. Florals and other designs are no longer a top choice," Walsh said.
Most O'Reilly's Furniture customers use its 15,000-square-foot Libertyville showroom as a place to see and touch finishes, legs, tops and edges on full-sized pieces of furniture. Seeing is much easier than trying to envision something based on a small sample or a photo in a book, Walsh said. So its showroom is literally packed tight with furniture of all descriptions -- 40 dining table and chair sets, 50 entertainment centers, 15 bedroom sets, 25 occasional table sets, 120 sofas, chairs and sectionals, and so forth.
"This customization is what truly sets O'Reilly's apart from other furniture stores, as customers can choose their style, size, wood, color, edges, hardware and more for all solid wood, Amish-made furniture in the store. For upholstery, customers can choose from hundreds of sectional, sofa, love seat and chair styles, and over 1,200 fabrics and leathers," Walsh said.
Almost all of the wood furniture in O'Reilly's is Amish-made, and according to Walsh, the longtime connection between the store and the talented craftsmen who hand-make the "family heirlooms" it sells is its biggest strength.
"The benefit of working with such skilled artisans is not only that their quality is unmatched, but that the customer has a chance to customize their furniture to get exactly what they want," he said. "We facilitate a relationship that allows customers and craftsmen to work together to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that fit perfectly into people's homes, pieces they will pass on to future generations," he added