Beatrice's family room

You don't need a construction crew and a second mortgage to transform the place you live into a place you'll love. Designer Nate Berkus says that in as little as one hour, you can make noticeable improvements to any problem area.

Oprah challenged Nate to take "easy update" ideas from his new book, Home Rules, and put them to the test. He was assigned two rooms and given strict instructions—the transformations had to be construction free and happen in just an hour, a day or a weekend.

For his first challenge, Nate tackles Beatrice's sectional sofa and storage issues.
Beatrice's family room before

Beatrice says she desperately needs design help before her houseguests arrive for the holidays. She called on Nate to help her transform her cluttered family room into a classy living space!

Beatrice's number one problem is her sectional sofa, where her kids spend most of their time. Unfortunately, the sofa's fabric is not very kid-friendly and every stain seems to stick.

The next issue is her media center, which does nothing to disguise the snarled wires and unsightly electronics. Storage is also a big problem for Beatrice. She has resorted to stashing stuff behind her couch to get it out of the way—but not out of sight.
Beatrice's family room after an hour

With only an hour to make Beatrice's family room beautiful, Nate starts by clearing out some of the clutter. The junk stored behind the couch has to go, and the water cooler is banished to the pantry.

Next, Nate decides to split up the sectional sofa to open up the space. With the clock ticking, Nate tosses Beatrice's pillows aside and replaces them with new designs.

"Pillows are actually an inexpensive and a really easy way to add color to a space," Nate says.

Another place to search for inexpensive décor is right in your own backyard! Nate heads to the park with Beatrice's children to find beautiful branches and other natural elements.

Nate's last-minute addition is new lighting for the family room. He says lamps can help transform any room with the flip of a switch!

"All lamps should be on dimmers," Nate says. "You can make it bright; you can tone it down for a romantic mood."

In just one hour, Nate has transformed the once cluttered living room into a clean and well-lit space!
Beatrice's family room after one day

One day may not seem like enough time to redecorate a room, but Nate believes a few small improvements can make a huge difference.

Is your sofa suffering from messy spills? Nate says a quick steam cleaning can make a stained sofa look new again. The cleaning machines can be rented from almost any home improvement store.

After cleaning Beatrice's couch, Nate adds an area rug to make the room feel warmer and bring the design together. The art above the couch looks nice, but it's too formal for a family room, he says. To make the space more cozy and comfortable, Nate replaces the paintings with hand-woven African baskets.

To complete the one-day redesign, Nate adds a coffee table from Crate & Barrel and accessories from around the house, like books, souvenirs from trips, and as always, something from nature.

As Nate demonstrates, it only takes a day to make huge improvements in your home!
Beatrice's family room after a weekend

What does Nate have in store for day two of Beatrice's family room redesign? First, he and Beatrice paint over the cold white walls with a warm taupe color. Then, they head off in search of a new sofa from Room & Board!

Nate stresses the three most important things to look for when you're searching for a new sofa—fabric, firmness and arm height.

For families with young children, a durable fabric is a must. Nate says leather is one of the best options because you can wipe spills right off the cushions. If you like to sink down into your couch, look for cushions stuffed with down. But, if you're on a budget and prefer a firmer seat, go for the synthetic fill.

Once you find the right fabric and firmness, Nate says to make sure the arm height on the sofa is comfortable for you.

After finding the perfect seating, Nate and Beatrice hang a set of pumpkin-colored, velvet drapery panels and install the new entertainment center from Crate & Barrel, which solves Beatrice's storage woes.

Finally, the easy updates are complete!

"I can't believe this is my house," Beatrice exclaims after the weekend transformation. "I'm so happy!"
Sara's bathroom before

The master bathroom in Sara's home was another perfect project to put Nate to the test. Sara says her biggest mistake was painting the walls a bold red color. She tried to fix that by adding a wallpaper border—but that only made things worse! Nate couldn't agree more: "I have a personal—'hatred' is too strong of a word—you don't hate things when you're decorating…but I have a really strong dislike for wallpaper borders!"

Other trouble spots included holes in the wall, overflowing storage carts and some very stubborn, black mold in the shower.
Sara's bathroom after one hour

To tackle Sara's bathroom in one hour, Nate added a new rug and a few towels. Then, he straightened out her countertop with bath accessories to hold her toiletries. Nate says that even putting your toothbrushes in a pretty container can make a space look much better.

Next, a bundle of live grass brings a touch of the outdoors to the room. To fix Sara's unsightly storage areas, Nate swapped out the metal rolling cart with two big, beautiful baskets. And, a new medicine cabinet provides additional space.

Even though the wallpaper border still lurks up above, Nate manages to make the bathroom much more inviting in only an hour.
Sara's bathroom after one day

Nate shows Sara how to add a decorative mirror over a pre-existing mirrored wall. First, he puts duct tape on the spot where the new mirror should hang, and then uses a quarter-inch glass tile bit to drill a hole right through the glass. The tape keeps the existing mirror from cracking—so clever!

Now it's time to lose the floral border and the red walls. Nate says that a warm chocolate brown makes the bathroom feel more intimate. Next, Nate swaps out the old fixtures with new bronze hardware. He gives Sara's vanity an inexpensive facelift by giving it a fresh coat of white paint and replacing the knobs.

In less than 24 hours, the bathroom is dramatically different!
Sara's bathroom after a weekend

Nate called in experts from Lowe's to take out the ugly, frosted glass shower doors and replace them with plain glass. The new doors make the bathroom seem bigger and brighter. Plus, they're easier to clean. What about that mildew Sara found impossible to clean? Nate says the only way to solve that mess is by cutting away all the old caulk and recaulking.

In just two days, Sara's bathroom looks brand new. "It's a complete difference," says Sara. "It's great!"

Nate proves once and for all that it only takes a weekend and a few easy updates to make a big difference in your home.

Products and companies from these makeovers
FROM: Oprah's Pros Reveal Their Secrets
Published on January 01, 2006


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