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60-minute decor

By Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

If you could do one thing in an hour to improve the looks of your house, what would you choose?

I’d paint the front door. Certainly if you’re going to sell, you need to consider painting the door. Curb appeal is all, and experts agree that brightening up the front door adds lots of appeal for little time and money. If you’re not selling, you’ll appreciate the improvement yourself.

But then, I like painting. (Yes, I’ve been told that’s a character flaw.)

Joan Inglis of Fort Mill said she’d declutter. She’s an award-winning stager of homes for sale and also helps families who plan to stay put.

All pros advise us to declutter. Here’s exactly what Inglis ( means:

“Pick up those little tchotchkes that are all over. On shelves, in the china closet, on the entertainment center.”

Now, choose one. Maybe the largest or most eye-catching. “Choose something that you’d really love to have and that complements the space,” Inglis said. “You get bigger impact with one large figurine than with lots of little ones.”

Have another hour? Reassess the pictures on your walls.

A designer years ago told me that, basically, all pictures in all homes are too high. If not every single picture in your house, then certainly the one above your sofa is likely too high. For her clients, she would lower them all – dropping the center of each picture to eye level or closer to the furniture below.

Inglis sees maybe even more pictures that are the wrong size. “And I see a lot of tiny pictures floating on large walls. ... And you don’t have to have things on every single wall!”

Use larger pictures for more impact. Hang smaller artwork in groups for more impact.

Want to invest another 60 minutes? Buy new throw pillows, Inglis said. You might not notice the wear and tear, but prospective buyers will, and if you’re not selling, so will your guests. Push yourself to try a splash of more vibrant color.

The same designer who told me all pictures are too high said all rooms have one piece of furniture too many. Identify the extra piece and remove it.

Odds are that the extra piece is a tiny occasional table or cabinet, Inglis said. You just stuck it in a corner and forgot about it.

“All it does is collect stuff,” Inglis said. “It’s a distraction. … Remove the distraction.”

If it was your mother’s, well, that might take more than an hour.

Special to the Observer:

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