The 15-Minute Living Room Makeover—That Costs You Zip - Kanebridge News
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The 15-Minute Living Room Makeover—That Costs You Zip

Refresh a stale main space with these quick, buy-nothing moves.

Fri, Mar 15, 2024 10:11amGrey Clock 2 min

THE DECOR doldrums hit hard as the weather lollygags toward spring. “We spend so much time in our most lived-in spaces, like the living room, that they begin to feel monotonous after a long winter,” said Malorie Goldberg, an interior designer with Noa Blake Design, a firm in Marlboro, N.J.

Fortunately, rearranging your stuff can significantly shake up a stale space , and all you need is 15 minutes to do it.

“We get used to where things are and overlook potential in objects we already have,” said Leslie Martin, of M+M Interior Design in Kenilworth, Ill. The pro calls this state of inertia “house blind,” and asks rhetorically, “Does the chair you have piled with laundry in your bedroom suddenly take on new life when moved to your living room?”

Here, interior designers share their fast fixes for breathing new energy into your tuckered-out living room decor.

1. Flip your layout from one side of the room to another to “create new traffic patterns and sightlines,” said New York designer Kimberly Bevan. “Don’t forget to rotate your rugs along with the furniture.” Adds Ariel Okin, another New York designer, “Map the arrangement out in blue tape beforehand to make sure you like the look.”

2. Don’t be afraid to pull in pieces from other rooms. “Two dining chairs and a side table can become a game-table vignette,” said Kristine Renee, of Design Alchemy in Sacramento, Calif. Add a side chair or ottoman underneath a console table to get a “new” writing desk.

3. Group flowers , a few coffee table books and a small dish on a big, handsome tray, said Okin, for a “styled moment that feels considered.”

4. Swap lampshades from one room to another, suggests Bevan. “Imagine the difference between a simple linen shade and one that’s patterned ,” she said.

5. For a coffee table refresh , “throw a beautiful tablecloth over it and let the edges drape on the floor,” said Toronto designer Justine Alexandra Dunk. A couple of books or decorative catchall on top will layer in the “super cozy, Old World English feel.”

6. Beware the “dorm-room phenomenon,” said Pittsburgh designer Leanne Ford. “We never stopped thinking we had to push everything against the walls.” Moving your furniture just 6 inches off the wall “will actually make your space feel bigger.”

7. Clean exterior windows , says Jacu Strauss, creative director at hospitality company Lore Group, in London. “You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much extra light the room receives.”

8. Steal a throw blanket from a guest bedroom and swap it for the one currently in your living room, says New York interior designer Emma Beryl. “Artfully drape it, either on the corner of the sofa or over the arm of a chair to make it look purposeful.”

9. Use your printer to reproduce a few favourite photos in black and white, and swap them for what’s currently in your frames, says Okin. “Black and white brings an instantly classic, clean and edited look to the room.”

10. Shuffle your art. “This will breathe new life into the space,” said Boston designer Honey Collins.

11. “Deflect attention from the TV by repositioning artwork and light fixtures to create new spots that draw the eye,” said Lindye Galloway, a designer in Newport Beach, Calif. Lean a bold art print against the wall on the credenza or move a mirror so it doesn’t reflect the television, says Goldberg. “Then the TV just exists in the room instead of owning it.”


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Savvy travellers who plan their trips around dining at their destination’s most in-demand restaurants know that securing a reservation at a top Paris eatery isn’t an easy proposition on any given day.

Come the Olympics in July, when the city is flooded with tourists, one would expect the jockey sport to snag a table to be that much more intense. But that’s not necessarily shaping up to be the case. As of mid-May, Parisian insiders such as hotel managers, restaurant owners, and local luxury concierges reported that inquiries at sought-after spots were no higher than usual, foretelling a potential opportunity for visitors looking for a fine-dining experience during the games.

The time to book falls over the next few weeks given that many top spots don’t take reservations until one month before the dining date.

The Michelin-starred Jean Imbert Au Plaza Athenee and Le Relais Plaza, both at Hotel Plaza Athenee and helmed by the renowned French chef Jean Imbert, are two examples.

Francois Delahaye, the COO of the Dorchester Collection, a hospitality company that includes the Plaza Athenee and a second Paris property, Le Meurice, says that his regular guests who are visiting for the games and Parisians who frequent the restaurants know not to call too far in advance of when they want to dine.

Further, he doesn’t foresee reservations being a challenge at either venue or at Le Meurice’s two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse.

“Booking for the restaurants won’t be an issue because people are planning meals at the last minute,” Delahaye says. “Also, the people who are in Paris specifically for the Olympics are here for the games, not to eat at restaurants. They’re not the big-spending clientele that we usually get.”

Delahaye doesn’t expect the kinds of peak crowds that descend on fine dining during Fashion Week each spring and autumn, for example, when trying to land a seat at the three eateries is nearly impossible. “People are fighting to get in,” he says. “You need to book through your hotel’s concierge, have an inside source, or be a hotel or restaurant regular.”

Several Paris luxury concierge companies echoed Delahaye’s perspective

Manuel de Croutte, the founder of Exclusive & Private, says that Paris regulars probably aren’t planning a trip when the Olympics transpire—from July 26 to Aug. 11—because they want to avoid the tourist rush. “We’ve gotten some reservation requests from people who’ve heard about us but not nearly as many as we usually get when the very wealthy travellers are here,” he says.

During peak periods like the French Open or Fashion Week, de Croutte says that his job entails making bookings for travellers who don’t have any other way to get into buzzy or Michelin-starred establishments.

“You’re unlikely to get a table at a see-and-be-seen place without knowing someone,” de Croutte says. “No one picks up the phone or answers email.” He says his team has established relationships with managers and owners of many of the hot spots in Paris and often visits them in person to land tables.

Exclusive & Private’s Black Book of Paris restaurant recommendations for Olympic visitors span a broad range, from casual bistros to fine-dining.

Michelin eateries include the three-star Le Gabriel at La Reserve, the two-star Le Clarence near the Champs-Elysee, and the two-star Le Taillevent.

Spots without a Michelin star but equally notable are also on de Croutte’s list: L’ Ami Jean offers traditional and flavourful southwestern French cuisine, Allard is a brasserie from Alain Ducasse, and Laurent serves French food to a fashionable set.

“My favourite neighbourhood for restaurants is Saint Germain de Pres,” de Croutte says. “You’ll find unassuming but chic names with excellent food and a great vibe. You can book with these places directly if you’re here for the Olympics, but don’t wait until the last minute because they will get filled.”

He also cautions that some Paris eateries are asking for nonrefundable prepayments for reservations during the Olympics.

“Be sure you want to go before committing and ask about the refund policy if you are charged,” he says.

Stephanie Boutet-Fajol, the founder of Sacrebleu Paris, says her bespoke travel company charges a lump sum of about US$750 to make all the restaurant bookings for the Olympic period, though the price varies depending on the dates and the number of restaurants that a client requests. “Reservations around the closing ceremony are harder to come by because that’s when more elite travelers are coming to Paris and want the chic restaurants that are always difficult to get a table at,” she says.

Meanwhile, chefs at some Michelin-starred restaurants share that they have tables available during the Olympics and welcome travellers to their establishments.

Thibaut Spiwack, for one, behind the Michelin-starred Anona, serving modern French cuisine, and the culinary consultant for the popular Netflix series Emily in Paris , says that he is open for reservations.

“My team and I look forward to sharing a culinary experience with new clientele that I hope will remain in their memory,” he says.

Spiwack suggests that travellers check out other worthwhile restaurants where he himself dines. For terrific wine, there’s Lava, and for Italian, he likes Epoca where the pastas are “divine.” Janine is the best bistro in town, and Prima wins for a pizza fix, he says.

“You have a lot of restaurants in Paris to pick from,” Spiwack says. “You just need to determine where you want to go, and book as soon as you can.”