Designer Showhouse affordable tips

Local experts have ideas you can try. The house in Oakwood opens next week.


Whether you’re updating a bathroom or redesigning your living room, the 2013 Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association’s Designer Showhouse is full of inspiring designs to get you started. We went behind the scenes at High Acres, the former Rike estate, in Oakwood, to chat with designers about how to bring designer looks into your home without breaking the bank.

Break up larger spaces

Jon Blunt of Luken Interiors in Dayton divided the large living room into three sections. A big space can be overwhelming and a little daunting for guests, too. “Typically, once you get a seating area that seats more than six people, it’s nice to have separate seating areas,” Blunt said.

Use small groupings of furniture to achieve this divided look. “Keep some of the pieces easily movable for entertaining,” Blunt said. Guests should feel comfortable pulling up a chair to enter a conversation.

Blunt also included a reading area as part of the design. “It’s nice to have an area for some alone time, too,” he said.

Updated traditional

“Less is more” is the phrase of the day for designers. The elegant master bedroom by Laura Day and Susie Day of Today’s Home Interiors in Kettering features a stylish color palette and simple touches.

“Keep it simple, not high maintenance,” Susie Day said. “It doesn’t all need to match.” Too many matched pairs can lead to a fussy, bland look, whereas a bedroom should “feel like a retreat with an air of sophistication.”

When designing a master bedroom, aim to make it a sanctuary, as Laura Day says, “a room you can live in, not just look at.” Try mixing and matching lamps, chairs and even nightstands for an eclectic feel.

Room to grow

Teenagers and young adults aren’t exactly known for their impeccable taste. The key to a stylish space for teens and those heading back to the nest is “classic pieces that will never go out of style,” said Laura Quinn of Happy Roost Interiors in Dayton.

When designing the third-floor bedroom, Quinn invested in a few sturdy pieces like a headboard and sofa, which she accentuated with bright, clean accessories. “You can change out accessories as a person grows,” she said.

She suggested working with what you have, for example covering old pillows with new fabric, to defray costs. A few other simple changes, like swapping art for posters, can also lend teens’ rooms and young professionals’ apartments a more grown-up vibe.

DIY to cut costs

It’s not always necessary to break the bank for beautiful, custom furniture. Jaclyn Dunn of Lord and Dunn Interiors in Dayton said, “Find a wonderful piece of furniture with good bones, find an oil-based primer and paint and have at it.”

In her design for a second-floor bedroom, Dunn put the bulk of her budget into “the thing that’s most prominent: window treatments and wallpaper” by British design firm, Osborne and Little. As for other accessories, however, Dunn said, “You don’t always have to spend a lot of money. … (Get) inexpensive things that you can make more expensive.”

Dunn, also with Bockrath Flooring and Rugs, suggested adding color and life to rooms with flat-weave rugs. As an added bonus, these are reversible: two rugs for the price of one.

Brighten bathrooms

Bathrooms and kitchens always rank among the most expensive home fixes. But Patti Johnson of Patti Johnson Interiors in Lebanon transformed two second-floor baths without replacing the fixtures.

“You don’t have to rid yourself of everything vintage,” in order to make a house feel newer, she said. “Choose fresh, young, modern fabrics and warm up the space with color, texture and interest.”

The bathroom is “a very intimate space, it has to be your comfort zone,” Johnson said. She emphasized warm colors and a soft effect as opposed to a white-on-white approach. Even simply adding a candle or tea light can brighten up a bathroom



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