Mark Ballard

Change color to change mood of a house

As I turned the key to unlock the door, I couldn’t wait to see what was behind it. No, I was not a contestant on “The Price is Right” game show eagerly anticipating what major prize I might win. Instead, I was standing on the front porch of a home in a suburb of Charleston, S.C. It had been exactly one year since I stood there.

Behind that front door was a house that was very familiar to me. Years ago, I had completely decorated it — literally from the concrete slab up. Even though I have seen the inside of this house many times before, each time I cross the threshold, it is virtually new to me.

This house belongs to some very good friends who actually live in Florida. Their daughter resides in Charleston, so they wanted a place to stay while visiting their family, which includes two grandchildren.

They called upon my services to help them choose everything to do with the house, including completely furnishing it. It is rare that someone gets the opportunity to “start” from the ground up on a home but, from just a blueprint, I began.

For the past six or so years, various members of my family and I have come to spend a week in this home during the Fourth of July holiday. This year proved to be no different.

As we walked through the front door, I sat my suitcase down and gazed around the living and dining rooms. As my eyes scanned the rooms with an artist’s precision, I took in absolutely every detail. Even though I had selected everything in the house years ago, 365 days have the amazing ability to make something look brand new again.

The first thing I noticed was the warm and inviting wall colors. Because the walls are the most visible portion of the interior space of a home, they have the ability to evoke a certain mood.

Most of the walls on the main level of this house are bathed in a golden yellow that warms you much like the sun does on a summer day. Just being in the warmth of these rooms makes me smile.

Color affects us in many ways. It plays a very important part in our lives. Even though we are not always aware of its power, we are constantly surrounded by various shades of color.

Some colors make us happy; others bring us down. Some colors cool us off like a brisk winter wind and some make us feel very warm. As I have suggested many times before, if you want to make a dramatic change to your surroundings, color is the answer!

I walked from room to room as if I were touring a decorator show house, my eyes stopped for a visit on certain things in the room. It was only then that I remembered purchasing them. Because I don’t see them daily, they maintain their freshness.

We all need to look at the interiors of our homes as if it is the first time we are entering them. Because we pass through the rooms of our home each and every day, all of our personal surroundings start to blend together into a muddy mixture of familiarity. They all blur together just like traffic does on a crowded interstate.

If you are bored with your surroundings and are yearning to make a change in your home decor, try this experiment.

Enter the front door of your home as if you are a guest and not the owner. I know it sounds a little strange, but looking at things in a new way always does.

Slowly walk through each room and carefully look at each and every thing. Start with the ceilings and work your way down to the floors, stopping to visit, as you would with a close friend, everything you pass in between. Don’t rush. Spend some time and jot down the things you love as well as the things you don’t.

This may take some effort and possibly a few repeats but you should end up with a place from which you can start to make a difference.

If your home feels cool and uninviting, you may want to warm it up with some color. If it seems dark and depressing, lighten up your walls and your fabrics. I know these changes cannot take place overnight, nor should they. But, little by little, you will create a space that welcomes you just like you would a guest.

As we packed and loaded our car to leave Charleston for another year, I took a few minutes to once again gaze around the house. As I locked the door, I had a thought. Even though this is not my house, it is a house in which I played a big part. It is a house that always makes me feel welcomed and warmed. It is a house that makes me smile, not only for myself but for the owners and all their other guests.

So this week be a visitor in your own home and then go out and create a beautiful home that makes you smile.

More FROM Mark

Check out Mark’s Web site, www.markballard.com, for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff for summer.

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Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; fax them to (478)474-4390 or call (478) 757-6877.

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