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Style Magazine

Global Vision

Jul 12, 2009 05:00PM ● By Wendy Sipple

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m an interior makeover madman. Set my sights on one object in an antique store and soon I’m comparing fabrics at Sally’s and sampling paint swatches at Home Depot.

Not sure why I find it so compelling to mix up my decor so frequently, but fortunately the task need not be an expensive or laborious habit. In fact, there are easy and affordable ways to spice up a space, especially if you’re going in a culturally inspired direction. Just step into your neighborhood Cost Plus World Market and suddenly you’ve arrived at an international crossroads of cost-effective décor and furnishings, from Moroccan to African to Asian. Stylish imports like these are just the beginning when turning a room from beige and blah to bright and breathtaking.

First thing to consider when tackling a room renovation is budget. According to Jane Reed, owner and field manager of INTERIORS by Decorating Den, one should start with the “Ten Percent Rule.” “Ten percent of the items in any one room should be trendy and ten percent of your decorating budget should be allocated towards purchasing these fashionable finds,” she suggests. Luckily culturally rich stores, like Cost Plus World Market and Pier One, keep prices low and the options abundant. Reed also notes that consignment stores are very active at the moment and can be great places to source accessories. For bigger projects, working with a decorator can help spare many expensive mistakes.

So what constitutes a “culturally-inspired” theme? The decorating palette is pretty much wide open here, with options ranging from the Zen simplicity of Asian-inspired designs to the colorful offerings of Africa and India. One current trend Jane notes, especially in light of today’s environmental focus, is an increased interest in all things “green.” “Motifs such as leaves, vines and branches shown in silhouettes, have become quite popular,” she notes. “Textural variety using natural products is huge, and fabrics and rugs are now showcasing high-low weaves and cut designs.” Though natural, not all these products need be bland. Jane points out rough-hewn tables embedded in crystal and hemps, linen, and cotton fabrics with eco-friendly dyes and threads of silver and gold blending in the weave. She also recommends using a variety of accent pieces, such as small mirrors, arches, medallions and fretwork, finished off with vibrant pillows and rugs for a splash of color. Antiques and treasures from abroad make excellent starting points when imagining the potential for a room.

With so many options, what’s the best advice one can impart for a culturally inspired room? According to Janna Stock of Let’s Decorate Folsom, the answer is moderation. “Just having a few key pieces, such as a rug, lamp and a beautiful wall hanging will set the tone without overdoing it,” she says. She points to a recently completed project, one that retained the original traditional furniture while adding an Asian flair. She recalls, “The client had a few pillows and some art that leaned in that direction. We added beautiful drapes with an Asian print, and it pulled the whole room together.”

Now that you’ve heard from the experts and the travel bug is itching, where in the world will you take your room next?