AT HOME WITH MARNI JAMESON

'Domino' helps those in home-improvement bind

2012-05-20T00:00:00Z 'Domino' helps those in home-improvement bind Arizona Daily Star
May 20, 2012 12:00 am

Those snobs who say there's no reason not to have a good-looking, pulled-together home are just plain wrong - and irritating. I know plenty of reasons.

Let's list: Lack of time, money, energy and ideas; an air pocket in the part of your brain that visualizes in three dimensions, a Cowardly Lion fear of spending time and money that ends up making your place look like a landfill.

This is why so many good people do nothing. They would rather not try to fix up their homes than try and fail.

In fact, many people, when they listen to their gumption organ, which resides to the left of the appendix, (I'm not making this up), hear it say: It's better to be thought a decorating dimwit than to decorate and remove all doubt.

This week I stumbled across a magazine that takes some of that fear factor away - on the home front anyway.

"Home should make you happy" are the opening words of Domino Magazine's new Quick Fixes special issue (on stands through mid-July for $10.99). The interior-design magazine's special edition meets timid home improvers where they live, and cuts through what stands between them and a good-looking home like a power saw.

The magazine offers hundreds of home-improvement ideas (334 actually) that are low risk, low cost, and come with spoon-fed instructions.

The editors don't just suggest you change the handles on your kitchen cabinets, they show you pictures of half a dozen handles and say what each telegraphs - this pull says classroom, this says country kitchen. So, when you're in the knob-and-pull aisle at the home store, you won't stand there so stymied that the clerk has to bring you around with a crowbar.

Although some of the issue's ideas are predictable - paint boring brown furniture a bright color, reupholster a dowdy chair in an edgy fabric - I found a fair number of fresh, inventive ideas.

Here are some of my favorites:

• Make a chandelier out of stuff from the garage. One clever fixture was made out of jumbled strands of white Christmas lights. Another, a vertical hanging tube-shaped fixture, the homeowners fashioned by wrapping white Fiberglass around two Hula-Hoops - one on each end - and fastening it with Velcro.

• Build your own sectional. One homeowner set three twin mattresses on plywood box frames to create a sectional sofa. She also built plywood boxed arms and backs, which had tops that lifted for storage. Then she painted all the wood glossy white, covered the mattresses with white contour sheets, and topped it off with textural pillows.

• Ditch the matched sets. In all the makeover projects that included eating areas, none of the chairs matched the tables. Interesting combinations included clear Lucite chairs or ones of aluminum steel paired with vintage wood tables.

• Hang lively wallpaper in unexpected places. Too nervous to paper a whole room? Put bold wallpaper inside your closet for a cheery hello in the morning, or in the recessed niche over a desk.

• Add instant history. Installing faux wood beams to a ceiling can add decades - in the best sense - to a sterile interior. These beams were three-sided and hollow, so lighter and cheaper than real wood, but looked like solid, rustic timber.

• Toss in one - and only one - quirky chair. A zany, unpredictable desk chair in your home office or by your vanity is a low risk way to add high drama. Suggestions include a wood chair painted silver and upholstered in royal purple velvet, or a chrome chair with a turquoise padded seat.

• Do a make-under. "Strip away, then keep stripping," is John Patrick's motto. The clothing designer's minimalist home has no window treatments. "I can't stand them." How easy is that?

Now what's your excuse?

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of "House of Havoc" and "The House Always Wins" (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com

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