If you're ready for a quick change, a spring breeze, or simply a new way of thinking about your house, don't reach for a trendy decorating book - go back to basics. Now in its ninth edition,
Better Homes and Gardens' New Decorating Book
(Meredith Books, $25) offers a great refresher course.
All the old chestnuts are here: Choose neutrals for big-ticket items like sofas and then have fun with pillows, throws and accessories; the most foolproof color scheme is white plus any color - green, blue, red, you name it; and when it comes to furniture, especially dining chairs, a mix is more interesting than a match, providing something links them - metal frames or ladder backs, for example.
Being an old-timer in the business, this book doesn't approach style as a static goal. It understands that people change, kids grow and family needs shift. Wisely, it advises you to check in and make sure your house matches your tastes and needs, because the better you know yourself and those you live with, the more rewarding your house will be.
Consider color, it says. Maybe you've fallen for brown and baby blue, or painted your living room the shade of pistachio green that's been synonymous with modern. Are these colors still making you feel happy, at peace, at home?
As for art, curate your home as if it were a museum, the book advises. Rotate pieces, replacing them with alternatives like enlarged pictures printed on canvas. Or, for a pop of brightness, frame and hang graphic scarves.
Remember that ottomans are a great alternative to a coffee table, also allowing a spot for party guests to perch, the book reminds us. And give your kitchen a new look by changing the hardware or replacing cabinet doors with paned windows.
Encyclopedic in its scope, Better Homes and Gardens' New Decorating Book is fun to pick up and read any time you want to spruce up your style, and your space.