Our revels now are ended. It's time to clean up.
Across America, we're busy stowing Santas, putting away menorahs and dragging dried-out Christmas trees to the curb. In living rooms and dining rooms nationwide, tables and chairs are being nudged back into their normal, pre-holiday positions.
But what if everything didn't have to go back into its usual spot?
January is the perfect time to rethink your living space. After you've put away all the holiday decorations, says interior designer Janine Carendi, "you can look at the same space with a new perspective, which is what the new year is all about."
Try moving wall art to different locations for a fresh new look. Associated Press
"When you add ornaments in the beginning of the season, you're adding items to the room. So when you're removing them, remove additional items, too," advises Carendi. "What are the things that are cluttering the space? ... It's a good time to take stock, to ask whether that extra side chair should really be there."
Out with the old
Be bold, Carendi says: If you decide later that you've taken away too much, you can always put a few pieces back.
Meanwhile, the items you've removed can find new life in other rooms. A table that you hardly noticed in your living room might look better than you'd expect at your bedside. "If you leave things in the same place for months or years," says Carendi, "you stop seeing them."
This purging and swapping out is a relatively simple and cost-free process. It can also be a lot of fun. But, says designer Mallory Mathison, many people are uncomfortable at the idea of shaking up a familiar layout.
"With your own stuff, it's hard to imagine it living anywhere else than where it's been for years, or in the specific spot you purchased it to go in," she says.
Pair a desk with a chair from a dining table for a different look. Associated Press
Her solution? Bring in a fresh pair of eyes. "Put everything in the center of the room and get a friend to come over, or your mom, someone who doesn't live with it every day. ... You can have some girlfriends over, get a bottle of wine and some appetizers, and make it a rearranging party."
One easy place to start: the walls. Designer Brian Flynn often encourages clients to move their art from one room to another. A painting that's hung in your living room for several years might look great - and get fresh attention - in your bedroom or guest room, he says.
He's all about embracing happy accidents. If you took a piece of art down temporarily to put up holiday decorations, consider keeping it in the room where it was stowed.
Flynn suggests mixing art of varying sizes and shapes, pairing pieces you've never displayed together before. This also works well with furniture: Rethink which pieces belong together, he says, and use your imagination.
Older items may look gorgeous paired with brand new pieces, and traditional things may look surprisingly good mixed with modern. When trying out pairings, he says, think about contrasting scale and shape. Flynn recently combined the curving, fluid lines of a wooden desk with a sharply angular steel chair and a client loved the result.
Don't just move small things. All three designers suggest trying new locations for the major pieces that anchor a room.
"The sofa is easily the biggest piece of furniture in the room," says Mathison. "Try it opposite where it was. ... That totally redistributes your furniture plan for the room."
By changing a room's focal point, Carendi says, you can also give the space a new purpose. If your family room has always been focused around the television, consider changing the layout to fuel conversation.
"If the couch was facing one wall, and now it's facing the adjoining kitchen, all of a sudden there's more conversation while somebody's cooking," she says.
Combine outdoor seating with existing indoor seating to get extra seats and a new look. Associated Press
If most of your furniture is lining the walls, try moving some pieces further out into the room.
And don't forget to look outside, says Flynn. Outdoor tables or chairs that you pressed into service during the holidays might be worth keeping inside.
At his own home, Flynn uses two high-backed wrought-iron patio chairs - originally brought inside as extra holiday seating - at the ends of his dining table. He has paired them with four low-slung, '60s-era chairs made of fiberglass and vinyl.
Of course, he says, "if it's something that's from Wal-Mart, like those stackable chairs, it won't work. But if it's made of iron or faux bamboo, you can ask, 'will they play with your existing set?'"
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