Bad day? Blame your condo. That's what designer Lori Ludwick might do, especially if your home looks as if it's in dire need of some TLC.
For Ludwick, the way people's homes look and function can affect everything from their temperaments to their pocketbooks. "I think a well-designed space influences your mood so much," says Ludwick, principal designer at InDesign in suburban Alexandria, Va. "I want each of my spaces to reflect the owner's personality more than my own. And I want every client to want to come home to this very personal space every day."
When housing prices were going through the roof, many homeowners simply fixed up the properties for the next buyers in hopes of big returns on their investments, rather than settling in for the long haul. But as the economy prompts more owners to stay put, people are increasingly interested in creating a personal space they love. According to Ludwick, who has practiced residential and commercial design here since 1994, it's as important to enjoy your home as it is to add value for when it's time to move on.
"Even if you're not selling your home, your environment impacts the way you feel about everything so much," Ludwick says. "Little improvements . . . will help you live better."
Ludwick offered five easy fixes, all of which can be done over a weekend, to make home a hipper, healthier place.
Delight in your lights
"Remove those old brass hardware store lighting fixtures; they're not doing anyone any favors," she says. "Replace them with a fixture matching the period of your home or a more modern fixture to add interest and improve the overall feel of the space."
For period reproductions, Ludwick turns to the catalog from Rejuvenation.
Try a new hue
"A coat of paint can go a long way in freshening up your interior," Ludwick says. "Clean walls convey a clean house in good working order. Remember the ceiling: It's the fifth wall."
Ludwick favors paints from Duron and Benjamin Moore and says there are no "awful" colors to avoid: "It's more how you use them and where."
Accent the architecture
"Decorative moldings around the ceiling, floor, doorways or windows can give a builder-grade house a more luxurious feel," Ludwick says. "Make sure the moldings keep with the character of your home. And stay away from standard 2 1/4-inch moldings; bigger is better."
Use modern appliances
This is a way to make a big impact without much effort, even if you're on a budget, Ludwick says. New appliances, no matter how many bells and whistles they have, are more energy-efficient and will function better than older ones. And you don't need to shell out for the stainless steel machines that buyers on HGTV's House Hunters always salivate over.
"A lot of people are finding stainless steel kind of cold," she says. "White is always a good classic standby."
Toss tired fixtures
"Switching out your old bathroom faucet with a shiny new one makes a big impact," Ludwick says. "Make sure you're matching the finish of the rest of the fixtures in the room. And because the faucet is something you touch every day, it's worth the money to spend a little more for a quality fixture." She recommends a matte chrome or nickel finish and likes the selection at Ferguson Enterprises (www.ferguson.com).