The well-decorated model homes and apartments found in every area of the country are an often overlooked source of creative ideas for home decoration.
According to Beverly Trupp, whose Pacific Palisades firm decorates models in many areas of the country, some people make a regular outing visiting the new models. Builders are aware that much of the Sunday traffic consists of lookers, not buyers. But, she adds, they also know that people fall in love with a house and before they know it, they become buyers, not lookers.
In the meantime, one can garner excellent ideas on how to improve the present home--perhaps so that it can be disposed of and a new home purchased.
One can learn how to place furniture in a room to create a more welcoming atmosphere and a better traffic pattern, how to make a dull room more interesting, and how to use color either to lend drama or to unify space, according to Trupp.
Feature Focal Point
In a well-decorated model home, the visitor's attention is immediately drawn to a room's best feature. If there is a fireplace and this is an important selling point, then furniture will be grouped around it. If there is a good view or an attractive bow window, then these will be decorated so one's eye registers the special feature.
When the room has no special attributes, decorators create them, perhaps with dramatic lighting or by painting, papering or paneling one wall, or by installing architectural detailing such as double moldings on a wall, then placing a picture inside the moldings.
The major selling points in model homes often are not the basic plan, but the accessories that personalize the house. That's why Trupp's firm, Color Design Art, always creates an imaginary family with names, hobbies and interests before choosing the decorations. She suggests individuals can make their own homes more interesting by choosing accessories that reflect basic interests and hobbies.
In children's rooms, a budding ballerina can be treated to framed dance posters on the walls, a sports enthusiast to wallpaper with a sporting theme.
In small, open-plan homes (as many are nowadays), decorators generally employ the same basic color scheme throughout. Vibrant colors may be used on a single wall in a few of the rooms, but an overall color makes the home seem more spacious than it actually is.
If the living room cannot accommodate a seven-foot sofa, the decorator will furnish it with a small armless love seat. Instead of bulky end tables, she will choose floor lamps or wall-mounted lamps on fixtures.
Built-ins are among the most popular "extras" in new homes. Built-in bookcases, wine racks and shelves to accommodate home entertainment components are so attractive to visitors that the decorator often sees people snapping pictures of them.
Trupp, who travels extensively to create model rooms and to observe consumer reaction to them, said that some best-selling built-in ideas which would work well in existing homes include the following ideas.
--In a dining room or area that is too small to comfortably accommodate a full buffet-server, mount a 10-inch wide shelf at buffet height along one wall. Mirror the wall above and below the shelf. The result will be an apparent expansion of the room and a useful surface that can take the place of the buffet.
--In a small ell, or along a short wall, build in shelves to accommodate stereo equipment or a collection of art objects, books and photographs.
--In a kitchen too small for a dining table and chairs, build in banquette seating in one corner and then add a table.
Trupp has found that model homes across the country tend to be going in the same direction. In the category builders call "affordable housing" (and by which they mean whatever is the lowest priced house on the market in the area) homes are getting smaller. However, perhaps in compensation, there are more special features such as microwave ovens, oversize bathtubs and skylights.
Builders are also targeting homes to appeal to particular income and social groups. The differences between "affordable" housing and a luxury model one or two miles away in the same city may be greater than the differences between two affordable homes at opposite ends of the country, she said.