Train the eye and change your rooms

Lifestyle TV host and author advises moving furniture to refresh the spirit

September 15, 2002|By Claire Whitcomb | Claire Whitcomb,Universal Press Syndicate

If you've ever wanted to wave a magic wand and transform your rooms, it's time you met Susie Coelho.

Host of HGTV's Surprise Gardener and a lifestyle correspondent for NBC's Today Show, Coelho has entered the coffee-table book market with Susie Coelho's Everyday Styling (Simon & Schuster, $30). Her philosophy is bubbly as champagne. Change your rooms, Coelho believes, and you can change your life.

Really. All you have to do is follow her three steps.

First, clear your space. Move out all the pillows and doodads and take a fresh look at your furniture. Would your reading chair be better by the window? Perhaps your conversation area would be more intimate if you replaced the coffee table with an ottoman topped by a tray.

If you like your upholstery where it is, don't worry. Having cleared out your room, you're ready for step two. Look into your closets and cupboards and get out everything that might possibly work in your living space.

In the world of photo shoots, these are called props. No matter that your grandmother would never have viewed her candlestick as a prop. It's useful to look at your rooms with a photographer's lack of sentiment, with a stylist's eye for the graphic, and with an artist's affinity for color.

You've probably already figured out step three, which Coelho calls "putting your sense of style to work." Create new vignettes, find new color combinations. Shift and rearrange.

"You'll know you've hit it," she insists cheerily, "when you feel a sudden lifting of the spirit. The room will come alive." Having been a Ford model, Coelho is used to being surrounded by swat teams of people who fluff and buff. She believes in the camera-ready moment, but not because she expects HGTV to knock at her door any second. It's revitalizing to tend to the spaces where you live.

"Sometimes I'll put the kids to bed," Coelho writes, "and come down into the living room and start moving things around just to get my creative boost." Though it may sound like a new age concept, rearranging your rooms does change the energy in your home. Improve your surroundings and you can set off a small chain reaction.

"As you gain your sense of style at home," Coelho writes, "it will start to permeate other areas of your life." Does this mean you will become gorgeous and live in sun-kissed luxury like Coelho? Let's just say, as she does, that paying attention to your home "increases your energy, creating a natural buzz that fires up your drive better than a double latte."

As for the nitty-gritty of what constitutes style, Coelho recommends training your eye by clipping pictures from magazines. Organize them in four folders, marked "outdoors," "holidays," "indoors" and "what were they thinking." You can be casual about your style file or you can paste your favorite pictures and swatches in a small binder that you can take with you when you shop.

Sometimes, she says, by paying attention to what you don't like, you start to understand what it is that you do like.

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