ORLANDO, Fla. - In the present tough economy, a lot of homeowners simply can't afford to spend big bucks on lavish redecorating projects.
But that doesn't mean the home-improvement bug has quit biting, said interior designer Debbie Sheaf, owner of Debbie Sheaf & Associates in Orlando, Fla.
As a result, she and her business partner, Pamela Doerr, have reinvented themselves as the "Doctors of Design." They've even taken to wearing white lab coats when making house calls.
To help clients redecorate on a tight budget, Sheaf has come up with a special "Rx plan." For a basic $350 fee, she and her associates diagnose a room's ills, then write a prescription to effect a cure.
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"First, we show you how to rearrange the furniture, artwork and accessories you already own to create a fresh look," Sheaf explained.
Then her team draws up a work sheet. It outlines treatments for walls, windows and floors, suggests additional furnishings, and includes a list of recommended sources and services.
The idea is to provide an affordable home-care plan that clients can implement as time and budget allow, she explained.
She recently helped a Winter Park, Fla., family transform its outdated, overcrowded family room into a comfortable, well-equipped and stylish recreation room for the children - and a corner of the kitchen into a computer station. It worked like this:
Ailment: Caramel-colored leather sofa, armchair and ottoman from former home are in good condition, but don't blend with other furnishings.
Rx: Create a fresh color scheme to harmonize with leather furniture: pale sage walls, deep sage carpeting, window treatments and accent pieces in sage, caramel, brown and black. Add two fabric-covered recliners in coordinating print.
Ailment: Multicolored brick fireplace looks too busy.
Rx: Paint bricks to coordinate with new color scheme.
Ailment: Painting above fireplace did not suit new design.
Rx: Replace with a more-suitable painting from the living room.
Ailment: Tile floor too hard and cold for kids to sit or sleep on.
Rx: Lay carpeting over tile.
Ailment: More storage needed. Bar counter too high.
Rx: Build custom cabinets under bar to house books, games, CD, DVDs. Purchase new stools for lower bar counter in kitchen.
Ailment: No space for big-screen TV and electronics.
Rx: Find a low console to house new TV and electronics.
Ailment: Not enough light.
Rx: Add ceiling light with fan and two table lamps.
Ailment: Malfunctioning, outdated vertical blinds.
Rx: Install new faux-wood verticals.
Ailment: Computer, printer and files housed in bulky console and filing cabinets.
Rx: Turn deep, wide closet into mini study when funds are available. In the meantime, move office equipment and files to little-used corner of kitchen.
According to the homeowner, the makeover turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.