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decorating to stay(ARA) - We've all heard the tips on how to decorate to sell your house -- keep colors neutral, get rid of clutter, and arrange furniture to make rooms appear more spacious. But what if you don't want to sell your home -- you want to stay? How do you decorate with that in mind? Luckily, there are no rules when it comes to decorating your own home. Here, find advice and resources that will help you add your own personal touches to your decorating endeavors.

Do Your Homework

The first step to successful design is figuring out what you like in décor. Flip through design books and magazines and pay attention to which types of styles you enjoy, cutting out pictures of things you like. Watch the wide variety of design shows on television and visit model homes. Jot down lots of descriptive notes to help you capture everything you like. Ask yourself questions like: "Is this room too formal or casual for me? Are the colors too light or too dark? Is it too busy or is there too much empty space?" These are great ways to figure out what sorts of design elements you enjoy.

"You always hear about creating a 'need versus want' list when looking to buy a home," says Patricia Olson, president of Patrician Group, Inc., a design firm based in the Chicago area. "The same rings true when decorating a home you plan on living in for years. If you've decided you want to live in your home for years to come, do you want to spend your budget on new furniture or flooring? Do you need to spend that money elsewhere on decorative items? What items do you want, but aren't necessary? Making these decisions will help you move forward with your design plans."

Use the Web for Resources

The Internet has made research and planning easier than ever -- and it is right at your fingertips! If you're not sure whether you are more casual or formal in your decorating tastes, you can take quizzes online to find out. Visit "Better Homes and Gardens" online at to take their decorating attitude quiz and hone in on your personal style. Also check out their "Arrange-a-Room" page to use their home designer software. This program allows you to redecorate without ever leaving your chair! You can lay out rooms and decide how many pieces of furniture you can fit and try different ways of arranging them.

To learn about color choices and what works best for your space, visit Glidden Paints online at and use their Color@Home Paint Visualizer to see what various colors will look like in a room.

Also try Lowe's How To Library at for project ideas and strategies and HGTV at to learn more about the projects you see on their shows.

If you're looking to make product choices, turn to the online world and spend your time making decisions from the comfort of your own couch instead of spending hours debating in the aisles. Many manufacturers have put their entire product offerings online for customer viewing. For instance, Creative Specialties International, a division of Moen Incorporated that makes stylish accessories for the bath, recently launched a Web site at where consumers can browse all of their styles in different finishes and learn where they can purchase these items.

"We heard from consumers that they wanted the ability to see all our collections and styles online so they could go to the store prepared to make their purchase," says Mike Bauer, senior director of marketing & product development at Creative Specialties International. "Now, a homeowner who wants to make a bold, personal statement in the bath can take their time perusing all of our collections. Some of our finishes like wrought iron and oil rubbed bronze are a perfect way to enliven the bath and make a unique statement. Chrome might be the finish of choice in neutral bath décor for on-the-market homes, but if you're decorating to stay, you have a lot more options, and the web is a great place to learn about them."

The CSI Web site also includes many bathroom pictures, so consumers can see what the accessories they're eying will look like installed. They can also draw inspirations from the decorating themes used in the rooms, which will help in your next step -- adding personality.

Designer Tips

When you want to live in your home for years, the design options seem to expand exponentially. Here are some additional tips from Olson on decorating to stay and giving your home a dose of personality.

"A great way to personalize a space is to design around a theme. Whether it's a sports theme for the den, Tuscan luxury for the living room, or Asian simplicity in the bath, choosing a theme and sticking with it helps personalize the decorating process," says Olson. Some leading consumer products companies, such as Creative Specialties International, have even categorized their designs by theme to help consumers naturally narrow down their search amidst numerous product choices. CSI's products come in categories of Traditional, Casual and Country, making product selections a breeze.

Don't overlook the details when decorating to stay -- it can be the little touches that make a house your home. To make the space your own, look into accents like crown molding, wainscoting/bead board, tiling and stenciling. Even small touches like installing a decorative tank lever in the bath to match your accessories can make a big difference. Creative Specialties International has decorative tank levers in a number of styles and finishes to match every décor. Hanging more items on the walls also makes a room cozier. Mirrors are an excellent way to open up a small space and lengthen a room.

Take a look at your flooring options as well. When you're only concerned about what will suit you, you can make a jovial kitchen or bath by featuring bright tiles and unique color pairings. Don't be afraid to make a fun statement in black and white or purple and yellow. If you're replacing carpeting, skip the neutral browns and beiges and find your favorite color on the palette.

And don't forget about windows and fixtures. You can skip basic blinds and layer fabrics in your favorite hues for personalized window treatments. Also consider replacing basic lighting fixtures with dangling chandeliers in striking finishes.

Whatever your choices, don't be concerned with what's trendy at the moment or what seems to please others. If you're planning to live there for a good amount of time, make decorating choices that will make you happy for years to come!

Courtesy of ARA Content

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