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HOME DESIGN : A SPECIAL ISSUE OF ORANGE COUNTY LIFE : Doing It Your Own Way : Decorating Workshops Put You in the Designer's Seat

August 12, 1989|NANCY JO HILL | Nancy Jo Hill is a regular contributor to Orange County Life.

By the time Doris Lektorich finished decorating her home several years ago, she was already bored with it: "Every room looked alike."

Today, after numerous design classes and two years of effort, her Anaheim Hills home is beautiful--not the least bit boring.

Her secret? Lektorich learned how to maintain design continuity but still make each room exciting on its own. She's one of many Orange County residents learning how to give their homes a custom-decorated look.

Interior designer Valinda Tivenan says many students in her "Designing Your Home" class at Rancho Santiago College want to learn how to decorate their homes because they "are just tired of nothing ever looking right."

And by decorating themselves, they save money.

Do-it-yourself home decorating is a grand American tradition and a necessity for people on a limited budget. But not everyone is good at it. Simply knowing what you like is not enough.

Without a somewhat educated eye to style, color and elementary design principles, the result can be a disappointing hodgepodge. Individual elements may be nice, but somehow they may not connect for that custom look.

But there is hope.

You can learn interior design, and a wealth of resources are available in Orange County to help you. With the proper skills and inside tricks, designing your home interior can be fun and immensely satisfying. And you can do it successfully even on a limited budget.

Local interior design classes range from one-or-two-session seminars, where you can learn design tricks and shopping bargains, to Tivenan's 18-week credit/non-credit course where students learn such design principles as color theory and how to make a room with conflicting elements work.

Other classes run the gamut from sewing for the home to how to design your own kitchen or bath or even lay your own ceramic tile floor. You can learn how to wallpaper, how to upholster, how to stencil and much more.

Lektorich started with Tivenan's introductory class and was so excited by what she learned she continued with other classes. Now she is close to completing her study to become an interior designer herself.

"The most exciting thing about taking a course in interior design is you find out why people make mistakes and how to prevent yourself from making mistakes," Lektorich says. "You understand why things look good and why they don't."

Lektorich, a former teacher, says she designed her home with a backdrop of four shades of apricot because it's a warm, happy color and good for her personally. She used other colors too, picking up as a dominant color in one room what might have been an accent color in another.

And, with some help from her husband, she did all her own window and wall treatments. In the master bedroom she wanted something "extraordinary" to go with the four-poster bed she selected, and she combined two Victorian styles--bishop's sleeves, fabric draped over a rod and shaped to look like an old-fashioned sleeve, and puddling, where fabric is allowed to fall softly on the floor.

The wall in her guest bedroom looks like wallpaper, but it's not. Lektorich painted the wall in a light apricot color. Then she used a sea sponge dipped in paint to create a design on the wall in two other shades of apricot plus a green accent. In the family room she painted rough-hewn beams a light apricot to give a softer look and blend the vaulted ceiling with her antique furnishings and mementos.

Lektorich says it's hard to determine how much money she saved overall by doing the work herself. She does know, however, that it would have cost her about $25 an hour to hire a painter and that she saved almost $600 by making her own dining room window treatments. She had paid someone $558 to do the sewing on a similar treatment--with a cloud valance and side panels--in her living room, only to discover in the meantime through research that the job wasn't as hard as she thought.

Before Lektorich started all of this, however, she had a plan, a concept of the look she wanted in her home. This is crucial to attaining a custom look and staying within your budget.

Interior designer Elsie Hale says the most important step in designing a home interior is a plan "because if they have a plan, then they don't go about as haphazardly." Hale teaches "Get the Most Out of Your Decorating Dollar" and other design classes for Coastline Community College.

"They need to know what they like," Hale says. "Many people have no idea what they like, so I suggest that they start out on some sort of idea file." Home design publications can be expensive, however. You may want to make periodic trips to your local library to read current publications.

Hale also suggests that even budget do-it-yourselfers consider a two-or-three-hour consultation with an interior designer.

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