Quick Fixes

Time is running out, but you can still make some noticeable improvements to your home before guests arrive.
Unless your name is Ty Pennington, a complete home makeover before the holidays is out of the question. But there is still hope for freshening up the spaces your family and friends will see. Here are six ideas for a seasonal upgrade:

Make over your entryway
Hosts often forget that guests get a feel for the home before they ever step inside.

“The entry really sets the tone for the entire home,” says Rod Karsnak of Aspen River Wood and Glass in Beachwood. “Spending money on the inside is nice, but the entry is really the bull’s-eye to the home.”

A new front door is one of the most noticeable upgrades you can make. Whether you’re looking for a traditional style or something more unique, a front door should match the architecture and style of your home. Karsnak says ordering a new door can take anywhere from six to 14 weeks, depending on the type of door and hardware you choose. Some can be ordered from manufacturers and others are made-to-order, so take timing into consideration if you hope to get this change made before the holidays.

Also, when selecting a new front door, it’s important to remember that you should consider what it will look like from both sides. Karsnak recommends bringing pictures of your home’s entryway from both the inside and outside when you go shopping for one.

Dress up your windows
Some people wouldn’t think that putting up new blinds or draperies could do much for a room, but Eileen Zimmerman, owner of Well Dressed Windows in Solon, knows better than that.

“Window treatments are the final, finishing touch that brings everything together,” she says. “It gives the room a finished, cohesive look.”

Don’t be afraid of hiding your windows, because an intriguing fabric pattern or texture can bring attention to woodwork or a great view, since your guests’ eyes will be drawn to it. Also, if you want to highlight a special piece of artwork or complement a piece of furniture, window treatments allow you to do so in a subtle way.

And don’t think that big, heavy drapes are the only way you can go. Side panels that just barely touch the floor and serve only a decorative purpose are very popular, according to Zimmerman. Also keep in mind that guests are more likely to notice a unique window treatment over a mass-produced style. Just keep in mind that custom window treatments often require several weeks of lead-time.

“It’s not just picking the fabric,” Zimmerman explains. “It’s style, hardware, trim, getting it fabricated and installed.”

Light your home
Nothing draws attention to your home during the dark, cold winter nights like a bright holiday light display. Putting up lights is a fun way to decorate the outside of your home and show off your holiday cheer. You know what’s even more fun? Hiring someone else to put them up for you.

If you go that route, Brandon Polenz, co-owner of Horizon Lighting Systems in North Olmsted, suggests having an idea of how extensive you want your light display to be before calling.

Polenz says his firm can do a range of styles “from traditional to more modern, from clean and conservative to gaudy,” although most customers opt to keep things simple with white lights.

You can get a house decorated with a week’s notice, according to Polenz. But keep in mind that the holidays start far before mid-December and contacting your lighting professionals early allows you to have your lights up longer. Many companies have large crews working around the holidays so no one gets turned away.

Use area rugs
A quick and simple way to freshen up a room is to lay down a new area rug, which effectively covers carpet stains and adds some color. You never really know how a rug will look until you’ve laid it out at home, so Steve Glassman of Marshall Rug Gallery in Mayfield Heights encourages his customers to take one or two area rugs home to try them out before making a purchase. “You tend to focus on just the rug when buying it,” he says.

Glassman adds that lighter, happier colors are popular this year — yellow, golds and oranges, or deep, rich colors such as chocolate brown and navy blue.

When selecting a rug for a high-traffic area such as a hallway, it is best to stay away from lighter colors with no pattern. Highly patterned rugs do well in high-traffic areas, Glassman says. He also suggests turning rugs and pads 180 degrees at least once a year to evenly distribute wear.

When it comes to ornate Oriental rugs, Jonathan Fields from Rugtime in Chagrin Falls suggests using them to make artistic statements in low-traffic areas. These rugs are expensive and often hand-made and should be the anchor for other colors in family rooms and other gathering spaces where they can be appreciated. Don’t be afraid to be bold. Fields compares laying a plain rug down to “putting a piece of plain paper on the wall and framing it.”

Warm your home — literally
Everyone loves walking into a warm and cozy home in the winter. Window films make that even easier. And though they have been around for many years, window films are now less reflective, more energy efficient and much more popular.

Along with keeping heat from escaping through glass in the winter, they can also reduce the fading of furniture, carpets, draperies and other surfaces in a home. Plus, with a lower heating bill, more money can be put towards gifts and other holiday expenses.

“When an entire environment is filmed, we can see a return on investment in an average of 1 to 5 years,” says Helen Graziano, director of sales and marketing at Suntrol in Cleveland. There are even security window films that can prohibit an intruder from breaking in, an added bonus during the holidays when your home is packed with gifts.

When in doubt ... accessorize
When all else fails and you are in a tight spot, purchasing accent throw pillows, pictures or new lamps can help change the look and feel of a room.

Christine Vilas, interior specialist at Arhaus Furniture at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst, says dining or living rooms are the best places to focus your holiday decorating energy.

“Set a tone by using a special kind of decoration for a particular holiday,” Vilas says. “That can be very easy, like buying a poinsettia, or very elaborate.”

Nailing regular plate holders to a bare wall and presenting holiday flatware leaves you with an easy display that can be switched out according to seasons and it serves as a great dining room decoration.

Vilas also suggests hanging fabrics as a way to add texture and color to walls. Instead of purchasing heavy draperies, use a dowel rod to hang a panel of fabric with a unique color or unusual weave. This is another easily changeable decoration, so you can switch out fabrics to match the season or tone of a room.
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