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When You Don't Want to Buy, Try Some Rearranging

March 19, 1994| From Associated Press

When you want a change but you can't afford to redecorate, you can always rearrange.

Lauri Ward has made it her business to help people create a look by editing and rearranging furnishings already on hand. And she doesn't limit herself to what's in the room in question. She "shops" the whole house for furnishings that fit together.

"Nine times out of 10, people have that missing piece," said Ward, president of Use-What-You-Have Interiors of New York. "We say, 'It would be great to have a 36-inch round mirror here,' and they say, 'Gee, I have one in the bedroom.' "

For $195 a room, $300 for a combination room such as a living room and dining area, Ward or one of her associates comes into the home, rearranges the furniture and accessories and writes a plan suggesting a future color scheme and purchases. A session typically lasts two or three hours per room.

Services such as Ward's appeal to consumers when money is tight and they don't want to buy, when they have too much furniture and don't know what to get rid of or when they've been transferred to a city for the short term and don't want to spend a lot furnishing a new home or a rental.

Ward said much of what makes rooms drab or out of kilter can be corrected by rearranging.

"People hang their pictures too high, or all the heavy furniture ends up in one end of the room, or there is too much furniture below eye level and only empty wall space above," she said.

Couches and chairs of different heights create a choppy look when used together. A solution is to separate pieces of different heights and find pieces from other rooms to fill in.

One particular problem, Ward said, is finding the right niche for a piece of inherited furniture.

"Based on size and shape, you can integrate furniture that doesn't seem to fit," she said.

If you inherit a curio cabinet and have modern furniture, Ward suggested modernizing the cabinet by filling it with modern items such as framed photographs.

Collectibles also can add color and texture to a room. Often, it's a matter of gathering them into one place. Ward may find framed photographs or pottery scattered throughout the room. When put into a single cabinet, she said, they create a tremendous visual impact.

Ward sometimes helps clients develop a plan that can be put into place over months or years. One client's immediate goal was to repaint and rearrange. The long-term goal was to replace an area rug and reupholster a sofa.

"I decided if I was going to spend that kind of money, I might as well do it with assurance," said the client. Working at her own pace over six months, and at Ward's suggestion, she has painted the walls, shuffled the furniture, hung decorative plates above the picture molding in the dining area, had some artwork reframed and put a piece of marble atop a dry sink. The sofa and rug are as yet untouched.

"The important thing is I know where I'm going when I can afford it," she said. "In the meantime, I can look."

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