* Small space? Light paint. Dark colors recede or shrink a space, while lighter colors "advance" or open things up. Keep color changes subtle from room to room.
* Swag Lamps are the shit. A quick way to dramatically redefine a room is to replace those old boring light fixtures with "swag lamps" from the '60s. They're readily available at thrift and antique stores and can be purchased on the cheap.
* Open up your kitchen. A good way to increase a feeling of spaciousness in the kitchen is to remove some of the cabinet doors (not the ones where you hide your bug sprays and garbage pails).
* Clutter is the cancer. If there's only one person in your household, you don't need two couches; lose one of them. And while you're at it, try to get rid of at least 1/3 of all your belongings every year. If you can't donate, have a yard sale. People will buy anything.
* Divide your living room into zones. Watch a lot of TV? That's zone one. Like to sit at the fireplace and read? Zone two. A desk where you pay bills? Zone three. Arrange furniture accordingly and anchor the zones with rugs.
* Keep furniture away from the walls... even if it's just a few inches. It increases the feeling of spaciousness.
* Continue your house into the yard. Small bungalows can look even bigger by converting outside space into a new livable area. Turn driveway space into a patio, by adding trellises, potted plants and furniture.
* Spruce up that can! Repaint a picture frame to go around your bathroom mirror. Replace those nasty towels. Change the shower curtain once in awhile. Get rid of that old medicine cabinet and replace with a large mirror, or an antique doctor's cabinet. Ooh! That just sings "1930s mental institution!" WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
on Lighting Lighting is a home improvement technique that deserves a little more credit. An artful light design can accentuate the remodeling you've already done. Or, it can hide parts of the room that aren't yet finished or simply cluttered with stained paper plates and crushed aluminum cans. With careful attention to the lights in your home, you can be even lazier than you already are!
"That's what lighting is all about," says local light designer Jeff Forbes, "highlighting the areas where you want people to look."
Forbes knows lighting. He's responsible for illuminating dance and theater stages all over town. But he definitely does not recommend the 1000 watt lamps they use for stage productions.
"I've found these nifty low-voltage accent lights that are really cheap and easy to install," he says. "I put some in my kitchen underneath the cabinets, and they're really nice for lighting the [countertops]."
According to Forbes a kit with three of these little lights costs only $25, and have a variety of uses.
"You could put them over a planter... or use them to get some low-voltage track lighting for artwork or pictures on the wall. They highlight areas you want people to see and take light away from the areas you don't."
Forbes also recommends softening the lighting in your home by turning off harsh overhead, ceiling lights. Instead, he says, switch on gentle alternative sources like lamps and Christmas lights.
"The overhead lights that light up a whole room are not very attractive," says Forbes. "You can get fixtures that sit on the floor; put them in a corner, or behind, say, a plant."
You can currently see Forbes' light design work at Portland Actor Conservatory's Crackwalker, playing through May, and Linda Austin's Big Real at Performance Works Northwest. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS
BASEMENT RENOVATION: DO'S AND DON'TS! My, what potential you have sitting beneath your house. That's right. The basement! How about a recording studio? Or maybe a love nest? Interior Designer Alison Walker gives a few tips to bring some life (and value) to that dark cave beneath your house.
Do use wall sealant on the basement walls. "Try to find a kind that resists mold. It's also a good primer if you want to paint another color over it. It's cheap and easy."
Use mirrors wherever you can. "They're cheap, and a great way to reflect light in a dark basement. Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors! You can't get enough. Trust me."
Segregate storage space. "Dry basements are a great space for storage, but you can balance this with useable living space. Make a space in one part of the basement to keep your stuff. This makes the rest of the space more 'homey.' If you can't afford to frame and sheetrock off a section of the basement, I suggest curtains. They're cheap, easy to install, and easy to move."
Paint with bright colors. "A basement is much more inviting when it's bright, and color can really affect this."
Dress the space with low, short furniture. "Basements usually have low ceilings. Using furniture that's low to the ground creates the illusion of more space and headroom."
DON'T use track lighting. "Cheap, but not worth it. They break, hang in your face, and don't do a great job at lighting a dark area. Use "pot" lighting or sunken lighting instead. They clear up valuable headroom."
DON'T paint the floor. "It looks cheap, and wears out quickly. Stain instead. It's more subtle and wears better."
DON'T use wall-to-wall carpeting... "unless you have a 100% waterproof basement. (Most homes in Portland don't.) Use area rugs instead. They're easy to clean and move around." MANU BERELLI