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Can't Remodel? My Tricks to Redecorating In a Different Style Than Your Home’s Hard Finishes

In this article, I'm going to discuss a concept that a lot of people are unfamiliar with: the hard finish. It's not a term that you hear very often unless you travel in interior design or home remodeling and building circles.


What is a hard finish?

A hard finish is a material that's been applied to a permanent part of the house. Some examples of hard finishes include the flooring, countertops, brick and stone. Hard finishes aren't easy to change without incurring a great expense, which means that some homeowners choose to live with the hard finishes in their house, even if they don't love the material.

That's the topic of my article today: how to redecorate without remodeling, even when the hard finish is not quite your style. How do you make a home suitable for your family, if there isn’t an option to change the hard finishes?



The Project - Decorate In a New Style Without Remodeling

I just completed a lake house design for some lovely clients of mine. They've just come from a home that they remodeled completely over time to reflect their style, and they know what they want. My clients love a mix of traditional and transitional styles, with maybe a touch of country.

They love the look of Pottery Barn with rustic iron decor pieces. Comfortable, tasteful, a little rustic.

They fell in love with the lake house for obvious reasons. The view is amazing and the open concept floor plan gives them plenty of space to entertain their large family. There's just a few problems with the house, and this is why they're seeking my help.

The first problem: the flooring. Flooring on the first level is all marble. In fact, it's marble with a black border. Don’t get me wrong, it’s gorgeous! However, it's a tad modern for my clients, who were overwhelmed by the task of making the house look like their own.



The second problem: the interior paint color. It’s actually not that big of an issue, but it may hinder some design options. The color is painted throughout the entire first floor, goes up the open staircase and into the downstairs with no good stopping point. The previous owners didn’t change it when they moved in, and there is no record of what this paint color even is. My clients don't want to change the paint color over all three floors. So, whatever we do, it must work well with the current paint color on the walls. Luckily, the paint is one that does fit with their style. It's a nice, neutral gray color.

So how do you make a room with gray walls, marble floors and a slate fireplace surround more transitional and coastal?



How We Did It

Establish a palette that works with the existing color. Let's start by talking about the fact that this is a lake house. This couple loves this house for its beautiful views, and those views are clearly a focal point. How can we bring the outside in through color?

The interior of the house is currently very gray, with gray walls, white floors and a stripe of black. Blue and gray work very well together, so I found a blue ottoman that I fell in love with. The rest of the design fell in line behind this ottoman. The piece even has the word "saltwater" in the name - can that be more perfect?



I added neutral furnishings with fabrics in shades of soft grays, browns and creams. I covered the floor with a rug of soft grays, creams and blues, to tie all the colors together.

I chose side tables and another storage piece in walnut-colored stain. I find that darker, true browns go incredibly well with marble. You don’t want anything too red, yellow, or orange - or gray in this case, because the walls are gray.

Choose interesting, attractive textures. I designed the fireplace area to replace the slate surround, using a stacked stone tile. I also added built-ins with a neutral grass cloth wallpaper to soften the area up.



Mixing all different textures and keeping the area neutral left no competition between the marble and any of the furniture and accessories.



Lessons Learned

So, if you're wondering what lessons can be learned from this story, here's the takeaway.

Hard finishes can be downplayed. Maybe you've moved into a house with a brick wall you hate, or a stone veneer that just drives you crazy. Maybe you wish the floor looked completely different, but getting rid of it isn't within your budget. These are obstacles that can be overcome. Sometimes, it involves covering the material up. Sometimes it involves diverting your attention from it. There are lots of different strategies for addressing problems of this nature.


Make decisions and move forward. Don't let your concern over an undesirable hard finish distract you from the real task at hand, which is to create a space where you feel comfortable and at home. Notice that I handled this job much like I would any other job, by establishing a focal point and a palette, and moving forward from there.


Rugs help. The clients were unhappy with their flooring, so we bought a rug. When I say, "rugs help," I'm speaking figuratively and literally. In other words, you may have a hard finish that you feel stuck with, but using rugs, paint, wallpaper, etc, you can cover up or change many types of hard finishes without actually removing them. It's rare to be truly stuck with a feature and having no way around it. This is how to redecorate without remodeling.


Integrating a hard finish into your decor can lead to some surprising and pleasing results. You know that saying: if you can't beat them, join them. If you can't cover up or remove a hard finish that isn't quite to your taste, there's almost always some way to integrate that it into your decor in a way that showcases its specialness while downplaying the things you don't quite like about it. In this case, the cool color of the floor paired well with the gray walls, and also, the beauty just outside the lake house's front doors. This created a color palette that could easily be integrated with a style that was more to the homeowner's liking.



Sometimes, you just need help from a professional interior designer. There's a lot to think about when you're trying to figure out how to redecorate without remodeling. Getting help from a professional makes it possible to see what you're missing and, ultimately, make the best of a not quite ideal situation. In this case, I was able to focus on the positive elements in the home and bring forward the most important features while also creating a comfortable interior for the homeowner, so they could meet their decor goals without fully remodeling their home.



Wondering How to Redecorate Without Remodeling? Contact Me!

If you follow my blog, you know that I'm passionate about what I do. I truly love helping homeowners in the New Jersey area (and surrounding areas) overcome decor challenges. I love adding a human touch to every room, making the house feel as much like a home - lived in and loved - as I possibly can. I think it's exciting when I can help a homeowner say "wow" when they see what their home can look like.

What are your home decor goals? Wondering how to redecorate without remodeling? If you need help from a New Jersey interior designer, I can help. Connect with me today to get started with your home redesign.

Until next time,





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