By Debra Simon


The TV world is filled with design fantasies. In at least one series, experts simply move around the humdrum contents of an ugly-duckling house to transform it into a showcase.


In the real world of the Triangle, how can you use what you own to perk up your pad? Here are tips to make your home sizzle.




1. Clean up clutter
Less really is more. Instead of keeping all your knickknacks on display, pack some of them away. You can always bring them back later.


2. Remove furniture
Could the living room work with one fewer chair? Do you really need every piece that came with the bedroom suite?


3. Rethink "normal"
Design against the grain to produce original results. For example, forget the notion that big pieces of furniture don't belong in small rooms.


4. Move things
Whether it's a pillow or a sofa, try putting it in a new place in the room it currently occupies or even elsewhere in the house.


5. Think outside the box
Employ new uses for your belongings. Lean a short ladder against a bathroom wall and use it to hang towels. Situate an old table in the middle of the kitchen and call it an island.


6. Spruce up your furniture
Start by cleaning it. Consider repainting and refinishing. Update the knobs.


7. Display what you're about
Blow up or reframe photos, artwork and scrap-book pages. Remember to use lighting to its best effect.


8. Give small items new life
Use water pitchers as flower vases. Place a lamp on a stack of coffee-table books. Fill a can with makeup brushes.


9. Reorganize displays

Adjust shelves and rearrange what you have on display to make it look even better. Remember that odd numbers of things and varying heights are pleasing to the eye. So, cluster three candlesticks, each a different height, on a fireplace mantle.


10. Paint!
Refresh your rooms with a splash of color.