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Freshen your home for summertime

| Friday, June 7, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Marika Meyer, an interior designer, has been featured in HGTV, Home & Design and Luxe magazines, as well as on Martha Stewart Living Radio. We caught up with her to talk about how to freshen your home for summer. The questions came from participants of an online chat.

Question: We rarely use our living room these days. We've often thought of turning it into a place for just adults. What are some suggestions for starting the process?

Answer: I personally love using our living room because it is a true escape from toys and the chaos of family life. On many of our projects, clients ask to turn the living room into a space that can really be a retreat for parents at the end of a long day. Using comfortable but elegant upholstery is the first step — something that will welcome you at the end of a long day but be fashionable enough for cocktails with friends. Pairing comfort with case goods and tables that are reflective of your style will help translate the space into one that welcomes you rather than feels unapproachable.

Q: We just painted our family room and bought some furniture but can't decide on art or finishing touches. We have two young children and want the space to be fun for them but a bit grown-up for us, too. Any suggestions?

A: For family room spaces, you can get away with more colorful accessories because the “volume of life” is louder in that space. Fun pillows with a great pattern and in punch colors along with a coordinating throw create great accents. For art in family space, we often have custom frames made that we cycle children's art through. When someone comes home from school with a new piece of art, it can easily be displayed. It's a fun way to showcase your children's art and show unique art in the space.

Q: I always aspire to have my home — or at least one room in the house — look as good as a room in a magazine. What are some baby steps to get there?

A: It's important to try to address all the areas in each room rather than filling out various rooms partially. For example, many people buy furniture but ignore the windows and floor, which leave a space feeling cold and uninviting. In magazines spreads, each room has been filled with finishing touches and accessories. For your sofa, select the right pillows and throw, add decorative items to bookcases and the mantel, and never underestimate the power of fresh flowers!

Q: There are so many options for paint colors, especially the neutral tones. We'd like to find a main color that we might use throughout the house, so we don't want to make a mistake. Where do we start to find the right color?

A: I often turn to Benjamin Moore. For a first step, it's important to figure out if you want the space to have a cool or warm feel. After that decision has been made, I suggest looking through their OC colors and Historical Colors. Some of my favorite go-to neutrals are Manchester Tan and Baby Fawn.

Q: I love springtime and am looking forward to spending time on my patio. What advice can you offer for breathing new life into my outdoor furniture and accessories?

A: There are so many great indoor-outdoor materials to select from. I just bought a couple of Dash & Albert outdoor throw pillows for my patio chairs. They are in a bright orange-and-white chevron that I am pairing with a vintage wicker elephant that I also painted orange. It is a fun splash of color that we will enjoy at low cost for the next few months.

Q: With a young family, we just never have enough room for everything ­— between the toys, clothing, backpacks, etc. We need practical solutions for storage but also don't want bins stacked to the ceiling. We'd love to hear your ideas.

A: As a mom with two little ones, I understand how quickly toys accumulate! I think the most important tool to help is concealed storage. I use built-ins frequently with families. We do a base cabinet with doors or drawers and open shelving on top. We teach our son to put the cars and trucks back in the “garage” before bedtime.

Q: Can you suggest quick and easy, and budget friendly, tips for freshening a space?

A: Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. And remember not to ignore the ceilings. One of my favorite tricks is to tint the ceiling in a pale subtle blue or green. It is a great way to lighten the space and to trick the eye into thinking the ceilings are taller than they are. Trim also gets grimy over time. A fresh coat on your trim can often freshen up the whole room.

Jura Koncius is a staff writer for The Washington Post.

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