YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Same Ol', Same ...Oh!

An artful eye for rearranging can transform a room without costing a fortune. Oh My Gosh! Interiors of Mission Viejo specializes in such one-day makeovers.


Homeowners are giving their interiors complete make-overs without spending money on a new sofa, carpet or even a single candlestick.

Instead, they're hiring professionals to do what people have always done when they grow bored with their surroundings: Rearrange the furniture.

Interior arrangement, as it is known in home design circles, is a growing field based on the concept that people don't need more possessions to make their homes beautiful. They just need someone with an eye for color, texture and scale to pull their furnishings together.

Tonya Iribarne and Judy Anderson of Oh My Gosh! Interiors in Mission Viejo specialize in one-day room make-overs, using items clients already have around the home.

"We show people decorative possibilities they just don't see," Iribarne said.

Interior arrangers do not simply move around a few knickknacks. They empty rooms completely so that not even a framed photo of the grandkids is left standing. Then they refurnish the rooms by picking and choosing from the existing furniture, art, plants and accessories, transforming a cluttered or claustrophobic space into something out of a home magazine.

They "shop the house" in search of things to incorporate into the interiors. Often they find great items stuffed in corners, hidden in cupboards or even set aside by the homeowner for a future garage sale.

"We're a combination of detective and set designer," Iribarne said. "It's the thrill of the hunt. I once pulled a beautiful antique clock out of a cupboard. The main idea is to use what they have."

The decorators, accompanied by assistant Becky Berry, recently redecorated the living room, family room and dining area of the Aliso Viejo home of J.C. and Ruth Abusaid. The Abusaids have wonderful rustic pine furniture and art from frequent trips to their native Colombia, but the couple wanted design experts to help them show everything to its best advantage.

Iribarne and Anderson emptied the rooms, grouping all of the accessories by category. Wrought-iron pieces, pottery, wood and silver were spread out on separate blankets. Plants were relegated to the kitchen.

With the furnishings out of the way, they could study the architectural features of the interior, making mental notes of the lines of the walls and ceilings.

"We decide on a focal point and what features we want to enhance," Iribarne said.

Then they create new seating arrangements by moving in the large furniture. Homeowners have a tendency to shove sofas, love seats, desks and other big items against the walls in a misguided attempt to make rooms appear larger, Iribarne said. Instead, the wasted center space usually makes the room look smaller. She and Anderson pull chairs and couches away from walls, sometimes arranging them asymmetrically to give the room character.

They made the Abusaids' living room look bigger by breaking up a large L-shaped sectional couch that took up most of the space. They moved two of the sections into the family room, placing them several feet from the walls and perpendicular to the leather couch to create a cozy nook.

They switched the pine coffee tables because the smaller one fit the living room better. They moved a blue dhurrie rug from the dining room to the living room, laying it diagonally beneath the coffee table to contrast with the color of the pine and the beige couch.

"We tend to like things a little unbalanced. It makes the room interesting," Iribarne said.

She added interest to the dining room simply by moving two chairs away from the table and positioning them in opposite corners at an angle.

"All the chairs don't have to be around the table," she said. "A lot of people have beautiful upholstery on the seats and you can't even see it."

Decorators Maximized

Home's Accessories

The Abusaids have the kind of tall, lush plants that interior designers love, but too many of them were crowded into the dining room so they were moved to strategic areas throughout the three rooms. The decorators positioned the plants near windows, drawing the eye naturally to a view of the surrounding canyon and accented them with lighting.

They aimed floor lamps up into the leaves instead of down to make the plants look more dramatic. "A lot of times people don't have enough lighting," Anderson said.

The interior arrangers layer the art and accessories last. They usually rehang all of the pictures and tapestries, because people tend to place their art too high (it should be hung close to the furniture to enhance its appearance).

They moved a woven tapestry made by Ruth Abusaid from the living room to the family room, where its red and orange tones became the tie-in for pillows and other accents.

Most people have an avalanche of accessories--throw pillows, candlesticks, photographs, vases--but they don't know how to display them. "Sometimes it's a matter of editing," Iribarne said.

Los Angeles Times Articles