A little goes a long way

Strong colors and multiple textures can have a large impact in a small room


Michael Saruski isn't the sort of interior designer who automatically rejects anything less than a $5,000 sofa or a $3,000 area rug.

"The public thinks they have to spend a lot of money," he says. "But it's [taste] and how you put it together that makes a room."

The Miami designer charges by the hour for his services, so it doesn't hurt his bottom line if the client prefers a rug from Target or a sofa from Pottery Barn. He came in at a little more than $1,000.

A small extra bedroom in a couple's home, which had been used for storage, needed to be converted into a bedroom for an adult stepson.

"I strongly believe that the room should be a reflection of the person," Saruski says. "I want to make the room look like them, not like me." Working together, designer and client found the makeover furnishings at places where budget-conscious folks shop - Target, Home Depot, Marshalls, Pier 1 Imports and on various Web sites. The mirror, bought on sale, came from a local design center.

"If you want a special look, you have to run around to get it," Saruski says. "You have to have time to shop and not settle on the first thing you see."

Still, as Saruski's design proves, you don't need a lot of money to decorate. All you need is taste.

Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub writes for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.


Lessons for a small room makeover:

Find an inspiration piece: Start with a rug. It's much easier to find a rug you like and match the paint to the rug rather than the other way around.

Bring in color: The strong red Michael Saruski used to paint the walls picked up the red in the rug. Some people would shy away from a dark color, fearing it makes the room look smaller. It does the opposite.

Use visual tricks: Paint the closet and doors the same color as the room to make the room look bigger. If the doors and trim were a contrasting color, they would break up the room and make it look smaller.

Use multifunction furniture: One of the requirements was a computer work space. Saruski found a bamboo desk that fits between the two twin beds and also serves as a nightstand.

Think outside the box: A bed doesn't have to have a table lamp. The solution in tight quarters is a pair of swing-arm lamps.

Keep window treatments simple: The wood blinds were already there, but they needed something more. New fabric panels to frame the windows were the answer, a layered look Saruski loves.

Fit the user's needs: A black wicker chest at the foot of the bed serves as extra storage. A large leather chair taken from another room ties down one corner and provides a place to sit and read.

Celebrate imperfection: The beds, which were already in the room, have a few nicks, but dings give them character. If imperfection bugs you, you can always paint.

Mix, don't match: Not all wovens or finishes have to match. In fact, it often looks better if they don't.

Look for bedding buys: Bed linens don't have to be expensive. Simple pieces from Target were given a more sophisticated look by mixing solids with a print. Red button pillows offer a welcome accent.

Echo colors around the room: Black grates pick up the black in the frame, mirror and the wicker chest. In the middle of the grates is a deep red similar to the colors in the wall paint and rug.

Let there be light: Mirrors, in moderation, bring more light into the room because they reflect the light from the windows. Gold on the mirror frame adds sparkle.


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