Arlene Gross


How To Warm Up Your Home With Decorating Tricks

decorating tricks
Courtesy Chris Conte Interiors, photo by Nicole Larson

As winter marches on and the thermometer dips ever lower, you’ll want to hunker down at home. Instead of turning up the heat to warm up your abode, consider a few decorating tricks to create both a warmer feel and cozier look to your surroundings.


Forget the standard white painted walls and opt instead for a creamy white hue, like Chantilly Lace from Benjamin Moore, advises Christine Conte, owner of the eponymous Christine Conte Interiors, of Huntington.

“Go warm and enveloping with Sherwin Williams’s 2021 color of the year: Urbane Bronze,” Conte says.

When choosing a warm paint color, consider the paint’s undertones, advises Donna Sheehan, owner of Inner Sense Interiors of Bellport. 

Warm white tones that have a touch of yellow or peach undertones add warmth, as opposed to the crisp, colder feeling of a pure white room, adds Sheehan.

“You may be interested in painting a room blue, which is considered a cool color, but, grey or yellow undertones in some blues can add warmth, giving it a very cozy feeling,” says Sheehan, adding that Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal is a perfect example. 

Light bulbs in the soft white range – 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin — can give off a warm and yellow glow, notes Conte.

“This light creates a warm and cozy feeling when used in living rooms, dens and bedrooms,” Conte explains.


Darker stains on wood floors tend to warm up a space, but nothing compares to combining any type of flooring with area rugs to add warmth, notes Sheehan.

“Aside from defining a space and protecting underlying flooring, area rugs unquestionably add warmth and coziness to a room,” explains Sheehan, adding that carpeting is a good option for rooms where people go barefoot or children play, such as bedrooms and playrooms.


To bring light and warmth into your home, layer your window treatments with a combination of shades and drapery panels.

“The drapes can be pulled back during the day to let in sunlight and warmth, then closed at night, providing cozy privacy and to help prevent heat from escaping,” says Conte.

Layer soft, stylish throws on sofas and chairs and add smaller throw rugs on floors for an instant feeling of warmth and charm, Conte adds.


The absence of any artwork in a room renders the space bare, cold and uninviting, avers Sheehan.

“Artwork adds interest and warmth – it can hug your walls and bring you in,” Sheehan says. “It can define areas, break up expansive space and create a mood. A gallery of photos/artwork, when properly placed, can make a wall feel dressed, even cozy.” 

Noting that walls take up a lot of real estate in any room, Sheehan advises, “It would be foolish to forget about addressing such space when trying to create a warm environment. Add art to tell your story and create a mood.” 


Wooden display objects, such as bowls or beads, can create an organic warmth in a space, advises Conte. 

“Incorporate objects made from warm metals, like brass or those with an antique or patina finish, to add a warm vintage and heirloom feel to a room,” Conte says.

Store summer linen and cotton pillows and switch to velvet and bouclé pillows rich with texture to add a cozy and soft layer in any room, Conte remarks.

“Using high-quality soy candles with fragrances such as Ski Chalet, Tipsy Bourbon, and Fireside S’mores will help create a cozy atmosphere,” adds Conte.

Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters hereSign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here. Sign up for discounts by becoming a Long Island Press community partner here.

What To Know When Building A Greenhouse

Getty Images

If you’re an avid gardener, you’ll want to get a jumpstart on planting for the spring and summer seasons. And there’s no better way to start than with your very own greenhouse.

The first step in designing a greenhouse is figuring out where to put it, notes Andrew M. Simko, owner of Garden Under Glass, a Dix Hills-based company that builds the foundation, assembles, and glazes greenhouses. 


You’ll have to assess which part of your yard gets the most sunlight. Typically, it’s either a southern, eastern or western exposure, but it often depends on how much shade there is due to tree cover.

“You don’t want to put it on the north side of the house because you do most of your growing in the winter time and with the sun low in the sky, the house would shade it for the whole day, so you would not really get any sunshine into it,” explains Simko. 

Since most gardeners work in greenhouses in the winter, the structures are typically attached to the house, so you don’t have to go outside to work in them.

“So you’d like a door to go right from the house into your greenhouse, if it’s possible,” says Simko.

But if your house faces south and the back faces north, you might need to place a detached greenhouse in the backyard, so the house wouldn’t shade it.


Glass is the least expensive glazing material and costs less than plastic, which doesn’t hold up over time. 

“The sun deteriorates plastic rather rapidly,” notes Simko.

Greenhouses come in various shapes, from lean-to, which looks like a shed roof that slopes down to a vertical wall, or gable, which attaches to the house at one end, or curved eave or straight eave, both of which look similar to a house.

A greenhouse can run anywhere from 4 feet wide by 6 feet long to 25 feet wide by 75 feet long, and anywhere in between, says Simko.

“It depends on how much space you have, how big your budget is, and what you’re going to grow,” says Simko. “That determines the size.”

Getty Image


The greenhouse is built on a concrete foundation that’s dug about 30 to 36 inches below grade.

“That’s to get under the frost line, so when the ground freezes it doesn’t push the foundation up and break the glass,” Simko explains. 

You place the structure on a concrete block about 8 inches above ground so that you can open the door without worrying about shoveling snow. 

Above the concrete, the floor consists of 4 inches of gravel and, between the benches, flagstone walking paths. The gravel floor prevents fallen seeds from germinating into weeds and plants.

Garden Under Glass will also supply custom-sized benches, windows, and ridge vents that can be automated with a motor and thermostat. In addition, the distributor will install suspended misting nozzle water systems controlled by a time clock, thermostatically controlled gas, propane or electric heating systems, and shades that can be used during the warmer months


The greenhouse, which is made from aluminum and glass, requires no maintenance, says Simko.

“Maybe once a year, if you want to get a pressure washer and wash the outside of the glass a little bit, that’s about it,” he explains. “It’s really maintenance free.”

Sign up for Long Island Press’ email newsletters here. Sign up for home delivery of Long Island Press here.

Pro Tips For Making Your Dream Room A Reality

A room dedicated to music inspires new tunes. A custom wood piece holds guitars and clears up floor space. Courtesy of Design Inspiration.

If you’ve always dreamed of a special room designated just for you or your family, dream no more. Creating a room that can serve as a sacred space for hobbies, passions, and favored pastimes is easily attained.

The first step in approaching any room design is to consider the room’s function, says interior designer Dawn Totevski of Sayville-based Design Inspiration. Once you know the functionality, you can determine the need for seating and storage. Secondly, decide on a style and a vibe, advises Totevski.

“Is it Bohemian? Is it modern? Is it farmhouse?” she asks.

To grasp the style her client’s going for, Totevski saves images to Pinterest that capture an array of styles.

Next, Totevski prepares a couple of floor plans from which the client can choose.

Music room seating. Guitar and headphone wall art match the music room’s theme. Courtesy of Design Inspiration.


For a client in East Islip with two elementary school-aged children, Totevski designed a music room where the kids take lessons and practice their guitar and drums.

“She wanted a designated place for them to practice and for them to learn, so that everything they needed was there and accessible,” Totevski explains.

To tackle the challenge of guitars which were taking up lots of floor space, Totevski commissioned Barricelli Custom Woodworks to create a custom wall-hanging piece of stained, rustic, reclaimed wood planks, to which they added guitar hooks. If, one day, they redesign the room for another purpose, the piece can easily be removed from the wall.

“We did a Bohemian look,” says Totevski. “We have some leather and a raw-edged coffee table, a fun black-and-white geometric rug and some really bright, bold colors on the paintings that we had custom painted by a local artist.”

The room also has a casual, slipcovered loveseat and leather pouf for both seating and decor, and a drum kit and music stands.

Designing the room to grow with the kids, Totetvski says, “Everything in there currently would be cool for a teenager, too. It was really funky and fun.”

Totevski endeavored to make the space inspirational, so that the kids can have fun, even when they’re practicing.

“The colors are vibrant and motivating,” she says. “It’s just like a fun, really cool lounge.”

A scrapbooking room is where memories are made. Wooden cubes hold hobby supplies. Courtesy of Leane Paul.


Scrapbooking enthusiast Leane Paul decided to create a room over the two-car garage of her Coram home dedicated exclusively to her hobby.

With a framed-out room, Paul enlisted her husband and his friends to insulate, install sheetrock, and paint the walls. Afterwards, they added carpet and an air conditioning/heating unit.

“And he built the cabinets that are on the one wall,” says Paul. “And just over time, we kept adding pieces to it.”

Along one wall, there’s a series of wooden cubes where she can place different scrapbooking items.

“I have a scrap rack sitting on top of a table that has lots of supplies in it,” notes Paul. “We also put a television and a couch up there, so in case he wants to come up and hang out with me while I’m scrapbooking, he can sit on the couch and chill out, or if the girls are here, we can have the TV on in the background.

With eight additional 4-foot-long folding tables, the room can accommodate an octet of her scrapbooking pals, and also houses the scrapbooking albums she’s created, tool kits, magnet boards and a mini-refrigerator.

Let There Be Light: Tips to Brighten Up Your Home

Christine Conte Interiors, photo by Nicole Larsen Photography

On dreary winter days, you’ll want to bring as much light as possible into your home.

To add light, consider all the elements, from walls to windows, that can enhance it, advises Liz Kohart, an interior designer at Liz Kohart Interiors of Garden City.


Use light colors to cover your walls, Kohart advises..  

“Soft shades of white and taupe will make a space feel brighter,” she says.

Wall paint with a satin finish, which is a little more shiny than matte, adds sheen and will help reflect more light, adds Kohart.

For a very high sheen and higher-end look, consider a lacquer finish, but take note that lacquer shows imperfections.

“You’d have to have perfectly smooth walls for lacquer,” explains Kohart.

Light-colored floors such as oak and light-colored carpets, or natural fiber rugs such as sisal can help brighten spaces, notes Kohart, adding that a higher-sheen finish on a wood floor will also reflect more light.

Liz Kohart Interiors, photo by Andrea Giarraputo


To brighten a room, upholster in light-colored fabrics and select light-colored woods for furnishings, including end tables, cocktail tables, cabinetry and built-ins, says Kohart, adding that a decorative mirror helps reflect and add light.

For window treatments, Kohart advises avoiding dark colors or velvet or other heavy fabrics. 

Opt instead for linen or cotton.

“Natural blinds, such as woven woods, will seem less heavy and more airy, and can be used as a window treatment in lieu of fabric drapery,” she says. 

Liz Kohart Interiors, photo by Andrea Giarraputo


In designing a new home or renovating an existing one, there are a few techniques that can bring in as much natural light as possible, says interior designer Christine Conte of Christine Conte Interiors of Huntington.

Start with larger windows and, if possible, add a floor-to-ceiling window at the end of a hallway to flood the whole house with light. 

An open-concept plan does a lot for light, notes Conte. 

“You can really move light from one side of the house to the other,” she says.

Clerestory windows – smaller windows that are positioned higher up on the wall – can go along the top of a room and add abundant light. 

“And you don’t have to worry about putting any kind of window treatments on them,” notes Conte.

For low-light rooms, a light tube – a metal pipe that gets reflected from the roof –  is a great way to get natural light into a bathroom or kitchen. 

If your house is set back and privacy is not an issue, add a transom above the front door or even consider a front door made entirely of glass, Conte says.

Fewer mullions on windows create the illusion of more light and adding black casement to your windows frames and accentuates the outside light.

Adding glass panels to doors of rooms where privacy is not an issue, such as offices, allows light to move through the house and backlighting a stained-glass window will give the appearance that there’s an actual window behind it.


Utilize artificial light by adding sconces and some overhead lighting and enhance natural light with table and floor lamps, advises Kohart.

Overhead lighting, such as a few high hats in the corner, significantly increases the amount of light in a room, says Kohart, adding, “Always put overhead and sconce lighting on a dimmer, so you can control the amount of light.”


Renovating Your House Without Any Demolition

Christine Conte Interiors. Photo by Nicole Larson

Renovating your house doesn’t have to mean taking it down to its studs. It does, however, entail some big decisions.

First establish why you want to renovate, says Micah Finkel, owner of the Brooklyn-based Sons & Co., a custom millwork company. Are you looking to create your dream house or improve its value at resale, or, perhaps, to accomplish both?

Also, consider whether you’re renovating for aesthetic or functional reasons and convey your intentions to the designer and contractor, says Christine Conte, of Christine Conte Interiors of Huntington.

Before you begin, interview three interior designers, three contractors, and, if required, three architects, advises Wendy Lepkoff, of Wendy Interiors of Bethpage.

“That will educate you and help you realize possibilities that you did not think of,” Lepkoff explains. “Then hire the ones that you connect with.” 

Look for quality and experience by avoiding new people in the field and the lowest bidders, adds Lepkoff. 

Christine Conte Interiors. Photo by Nicole Larson


Think about how much money you’re willing to put into the project, says Finkel, adding that designers usually will want to push the budget with their somewhat lofty ideas.

“A lot of times what ends up happening, clients will end up spending just a little more because they end up falling in love with what the house can be,” says Finkel. 

Jobs can frequently go over budget, as contractors invariably end up doing more extensive work than previously planned, notes Finkel.

Start with a wish list and consider your budget, advises Conte. Next, plan out the space, which often involves a designer’s computer-aided drawings. Then select and order the pieces to fit your style, from tile to carpets, wallpaper to cabinetry, to actual furnishings. The final phase is installation.

“Form has to follow function,” says Conte.“The layout has to be functional. It has to serve the space and it has to be in the style that the clients want.”

Christine Conte Interiors. Photo by Nicole Larson


Decide how far you want to go with the renovation. A good start, Finkel advises, is the kitchen, where new cabinets and counters add a lot of value to the home and don’t require any changes to  the plumbing or electrical work. Rehabbed closets and bathrooms in master bedrooms also get a lot of bang for your buck.

Built-ins in libraries, dens and mud rooms are very versatile, adding both utility and beauty to the home, notes Finkel. New windows, doors and embellishments, such as exposed wood beams, wainscoting and trim, can add a lot of character to a house.

Once you’ve started the renovation, you’ll have to determine what’s salvageable in the house, particularly in older homes, which touches on everything from mechanical to electrical to plumbing systems, notes Finkel.

“Every single element of the house has to get looked at, along the lines of the design, the budget, and also the dream,” she says.

Go on Pinterest and Houzz.com to get more ideas that represent what exactly you’re looking for, says Lepkoff. 

“Be very open-minded and you will have a dream come true,” she adds. 


In some instances you’ll need to temporarily move out of the house, notes Conte.

“You just never imagine how much dust is involved in this and the noise and the disruption,” she says. “It’s a very stressful time.” 

Be realistic about the time frame of the project, adds Conte. One room, like a kitchen or master bedroom, can take about three months; a full house renovation could last up to eight.

A Few Little Tips for Decorating in Small Spaces

Photo by Donna Sheehan, Inner Sense Interiors

As more and more people downsize or move into ever smaller homes, co-ops and condos, they’re faced with the challenge of fitting all their possessions into a more limited space.

The first thing to do in tackling a smaller space is to assess what you plan to put in it and take a closer look at your things, says Donna Sheehan, interior designer and owner of Inner Sense Interiors of Bellport.

“Letting go of some things can lead to gaining others, such as a workable albeit small closet,” she explains.

Keep only the things that you love, advises Ellen Miller, an interior decorator and owner of ElbowrooM: Small Space Solutions, formerly based in Long Beach.

Miller often does an exercise with her clients who live in smaller spaces, asking them to write a love letter to an item they really love, such as a special lamp or vase, and explain exactly why they love it.

“After that, when I say, ‘Every item in your home should give you the same feeling,’ it’s amazing how much they will get rid of,” says Miller. 


Choose furniture that has a multipurpose use, advises Sheehan.

“An ottoman with storage instead of a coffee table, a bed with storage below, or a table with built-in leaves are all space-saving ideas with function in mind,” Sheehan explains.

When you have limited living space, it’s important that you love your things and that they all have functions, concurs Miller. A table should double as a workspace and a mirror on a wall should not just be decorative but cover a cabinet or pantry as well. 

Create a focal point for your space, advises Miller. 

A brightly colored couch or a bold piece of artwork allows the eye to focus somewhere in the room, rather than notice the size of the space itself, she explains.

Photo by Donna Sheehan, Inner Sense Interiors.


Utilize wall space right up to the ceiling for vertical storage, advises Miller, explaining that seasonal items can be stored on shelves or cabinets placed over doorways. 

Furnishings, such as bookcases and etageres, can both provide storage and serve to bring the eye upward, which creates a sense of a larger space, says Sheehan. If possible, adds Sheehan, open the ceiling with a skylight or vault it, to “create a sense of increasing your square footage.” 


To open up a room, allow as much natural light as possible and avoid heavy drapery, advises Sheehan. 

“Window treatments, such as blinds and Roman shades, allow light exposure, while also providing privacy when needed,” she says.

“My rule of thumb is to never use any treatments on your windows if you don’t need them,” says Miller, adding that if nobody can see into your home when you have the lights on at night, then you really don’t need any window covering.”

“I think it’s great to not have any, to allow the outside to extend into the inside,” she says. “And, it will make your space also feel much bigger.”


Small spaces appear larger when connecting rooms have the same flooring and similar color palettes, especially on the walls, notes Sheehan. 

“Avoid chopping up the space and consider how rooms flow, rather than how one room ends and the other begins,” she explains. 

Try to have your space tell a story, says Miller. If you love the color blue or Asian art, for example, have at least one Asian art or blue object in each room, which will also create continuity from room to room.

How to Make The Most of Your Closet Storage Space

Marder Imagery for Marlaina Teich Designs/Symmetry Closets

Today’s closet is not simply a place to stash your clothes. Rather, with the proper design, a closet virtually becomes a room within a room, a showcase to proudly display your wardrobe.

The first thing to address in designing a closet are the hanging clothes, because there’s really nowhere else for these clothes to go, says Bonnie Reich, president of Symmetry Closets, a storage design company based in Holbrook. 

“When you walk into a closet, it’s not just about packing it in,” says Reich.“It’s also creating the right flow of space,” she says, adding that accessibility is key.

A good trick to creating more space is to double hang shorter clothing items, advises Reich.

Next, consider shoes, handbags, folded clothes, and sweaters, which can all go into drawers or on shelves. Lastly, look at where accessories such as jewelry and watches will go. 

The two goals of good closet design, explains Reich, are finding space that’s not used properly, to which you can add more hanging rods, hampers and shelves, and providing great organization and flow. 

An often overlooked part of the closet are the corners, which, Reich says, should be used for hanging clothes.

Valet rods, which can be either waterfall style, with multiple cascading hooks, or a pull-out version that retracts when not in use, are a handy way to hang clothes you’ll wear the next day. 

Adam Cassino Design for Symmetry Closets


First a designer needs to look at the space and assess the client’s individual needs and preferences for how to store clothing.

“Some people just want great organization; other people want a really great sanctuary,” says Reich. “And then there’s all that space in between.”

To begin renovation, measure the space, then work up CAD (computer-aided design) drawings, explains  Marlaina Teich, owner of Marlaina Teich Designs in Merrick and New York City.

As a designer assesses the client’s needs, preliminary layouts will get tweaked to address any specific requirements.

To add extra space in the closet, you can knock down walls in a bedroom, but that adds significantly to the budget, warns Reich. 

“Once you start moving walls, it’s a much more complicated project,” Reich says. “It could mean changing air conditioning, floors. It just opens up a lot of issues that can come up.”


High hats and chandeliers, often used for closet lighting, create a room-within-a-room effect, notes Teich.

Other lighting techniques include dropping down crown molding from the ceiling and adding LED lighting to create a glow on the ceiling, Teich says, adding that placing puck lights into built-ins and glass cabinetry will spotlight what’s contained within them when you turn on the lights.

A custom center island with a glass top allows you to both see watches, jewelry or sunglasses displayed below in a velvet lined drawer and also utilize the glass surface.

Whether you have carpeting or wood floors in the room, you typically continue the flooring into the closet or you can choose something completely different, explains Teich.

“We can do a whole inlay design,” Teich says. “We could do painted floors in a pattern.”

Beveled mirrors add beauty, utility, and make the space look larger, says Teich.

Another consideration are wardrobe doors, which, Teich says, look beautiful from the outside and can be utilitarian on the inside, with built-in shelves for shoes and boots.

“If you’re lucky enough to have a room that you can open the door and walk into and it’s your closet, you want to make it into an experience.” Teich says. 

How To Turn An Attic Into A Bonus Room

If you’re looking for a practical solution for adding more room to your house, consider turning that cluttered attic into usable, livable space, such as an extra bedroom, playroom, office, or personal yoga studio.

Provided the space has a high enough ceiling, a finished attic would be an easier and more economical renovation than adding an extension to the house, notes Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten, a free platform that connects homeowners with vetted general contractors.

“A playroom for the kids or an office are best, because they don’t involve any plumbing,” remarks Brownhill. “Updating the space to include electricity and plumbing could be costly, depending on the current setup.”


Creating blueprints and plans for the new space is key.

“Whether you work with a designer or architect, someone should measure and create drawings that the general contractor and their crew can follow during construction,” advises Brownhill. “The project will likely need to be approved by your local building department, which may require plans to be submitted, especially if you are adding a bathroom.”  

The condition of the attic will determine exactly what renovations will be required.

“You might need to add everything from insulation to electricity and plumbing, in order to properly convert the space,” says Brownhill. “If the ceiling is low or there are no windows, creating a dormer or raising the ceiling could be an option.”


Say goodbye to those pull-down stairs: You’ll want easier access to the new room.

“If it’s a two-story home, we usually have a staircase that can fit another one above it,” says John Petsco, owner of Miller Place-based Long Island Creative Contracting. “If not, we have to find a room where we can carve out an access to the attic.” 

Depending on the pitch of the roof, stairs can be placed in a closet, room corner or hallway, explains Petsco, adding that stairs take up an average of 60 square feet. “So we always look to maximize that space underneath it,” he says, noting that they’ll build closet space,  pull-outs and built-ins in that area.


As the highest point in the house, the attic can be the hottest in summer and, if uninsulated, the coldest in winter.

Aside from insulating the room, Brownhill suggests extending your ductwork to service the new space. 

“There are also wall mount options that are great for servicing single zones, meaning that it would operate independently of the system for the rest of the house and you’d be able to regulate that specific space,” she says.


The noise levels from the new space at the top, particularly a playroom, can quickly become unbearable to those below.

Consider having your contractor use a soundproofing layer in the floor to go between the subfloor and the flooring material, advises Brownhill.

Soundproofing also includes insulation and soundproof drywall, adds Brownhill. “You can either use a special soundproof drywall, if you’re already down to the studs, or just add layers to existing walls.”

Living Al Fresco: Creating Outdoor Spaces

Photo courtesy of Hicks Landscapes.

Come summer, just about everyone naturally thinks of getting out in the fresh air. But with the growing popularity of fire pits, fireplaces, and an array of outdoor heaters, people are spending more and more time in their backyards and extending their living space outward.

To create a seamless interior-exterior transition, it’s important to incorporate the same furniture style, similar textures and color schemes for both spaces, says Jodi Dell, owner of Jodi Dell Designs, a Manhattan-based interior design firm.

“It will extend your design, bring the outdoors in, and the indoors out,” she says .


Outdoor living has gone from traditional poolside, lounge, and recreation areas to spaces that reflect almost everything you have inside the home, from kitchens to dining, lounging, and sporting areas, says Matt Riccoboni, chief marketing officer for The Laurel Group Fine Landscapes, based in Huntington and Water Mill.

“Dinner parties have moved outside,” notes Riccoboni, adding that banquet-style tables and seating are very popular.. 

Trending this year, says Riccoboni, are furnishings made from multiple materials, such as seating with fabric roping, teak legs and aluminum accents, or tables with glass tops, rustic wooden legs and aluminum frames.

No longer monotone and utilitarian, an entertainment area can include an eye-catching fireplace with a TV above it, pergola, sectional sofa, and coffee table. Mirroring their indoor kitchen counterparts, barbecue areas now have six-burner stovetops, wall ovens, built-in sinks, and garbage disposals.

“We recommend product matching the decor to the design of the space,” notes Riccoboni, adding that ultramodern furniture looks right in an ultramodern space and resin wicker or teak goes well with traditional brick and bluestone.

The perfect design is realized when there’s no perceivable break between the interior and the exterior, Riccoboni explains.

“The hardscape, which continues directly out the door, is similar in scope and design to the tiling and/or flooring that sits right within that hearth,” he says.


The key to building out exterior rooms is connecting the landscape (plantings and gardens) and hardscapes (patios, etc.) with the home’s architecture, concurs Craig Donley, a landscape designer at Hicks Nurseries of Westbury. 

First, advises Donley, consider the exterior space’s adjacencies to the house, the location of doors and rooms which connect to the outside. Typically, the main outdoor entertaining and dining areas are positioned outside the kitchen and a terrace or patio off a living room or bedroom would call for a more intimate space, such as a small sitting area or reading nook.

“So you’re looking at the functionality of it first, the easiest and most functional from inside to outside the house,” explains Donley.

Another consideration is what views you have from inside the house.

“You’re always thinking about catching the eye and making a nice vignette or view outside of those major views,” Donley says.

Avoid any jarring contrast by matching paving materials, colors, textures and styles from the interior’s adjacent interior room to the outside setting. 

“If you have a home which has very contemporary materials on the inside and is very clean lined and sleek, you don’t want to walk outside and have a very rustic patio of natural irregular paving,” Donley says, adding, “You might want to use some sort of stone that blends clean lines from the inside to the outside.”

In lieu of actual outdoor walls, hedges, trellises or pergolas will help establish clearly defined  spaces, notes Donley. Potted plants, he advises, should be an integral part of your decorating scheme.

Refresh Your House With Paint or Wallpaper

Paint color brings the room into focus in a Long Island townhouse sitting room. (Photo by Philip Ennis Photography, courtesy of Wendy Interiors)

If you’re looking for a fairly easy and inexpensive way to redecorate your house, consider sprucing up your walls. Adding a fresh coat of paint or some eye-catching, textured wallpaper is a sure-fire way to brighten up any room.

You can achieve a whole new look by painting walls white and moldings black, says Wendy Lepkoff, owner of Bethpage-based Wendy Interiors, Inc. For a more modern look, Lepkoff suggests pairing gray walls with white moldings or wallpapering one wall and painting the rest of a room’s walls a color that’s prominent in that wallpaper.

“If there’s existing carpet or an area rug or wood flooring, that should be taken into account when selecting the wallpaper,” advises Lepkoff.

Accent walls — wallpapering just one or two walls in a room — are trending today and white ceilings are no longer de rigeur, says Lepkoff, adding that off-white, cream and shades of gray are popular options. Popular in bedrooms and dens, accent walls are typically created behind beds or sofas.

“Sometimes, a beautiful look with a high ceiling is to paint it one shade lighter than the walls,” she says.


Ranging from basic vinyl to embellished with velvet overlay or beaded crystals, wallpaper comes in many varieties, notes Bari Seidon, an interior designer at Floor Decor & Design of Syosset and Rockville Centre. 

“Wallpaper is a definite upgrade to any wall,” says Seidon. “It can be textured, it can just be patterned, but you get the best bang for your buck with wallpaper.”

The most common use of wallpaper these days is in the powder room.

“Guests use your powder room and there’s not much to look at in a bathroom, so you’re giving them interest,” Seidon explains.

As with wallpapering powder rooms, dining rooms often are wallpapered since, Seidon says, “you entertain in the dining room and it’s giving your friends something to look at.”

Deep colors and damask wallpaper help remake a guest room into a reading room. (Photo by Philip Ennis Photography, courtesy of Wendy Interiors)


Depending on which room and what section of it you’re working on, you’ll want to choose different paint finishes.

For trim –– door and moldings –– go with a semigloss finish, which is more durable, makes surfaces stand out and is easier to clean, advises Evan Kuby, manager of Aboff’s Paints in Huntington. 

To make your ceiling less prominent, use a flat finish that will recess the surface. For guest rooms, or other rooms that are used infrequently, Kuby recommends flat paint, because “it looks nicer and it doesn’t need to be cleaned often.” 

Kids’ rooms, conversely, require matte or eggshell paint, both of which have more durable and washable finishes.

Full bathrooms, which get hot and steamy, also require more heavy-duty, shiny paints, like Benjamin Moore’s mildew-resistant Aura Bath and Spa, or Kitchen and Bath lines.

Select a color based on lighting and what hues you already have in the room, says Kuby, who advises customers to bring in swatches whenever possible.

Darker colors look better in rooms with a lot of windows and higher ceilings, and shades of gray and gray/beige are hot right now, Kuby says.

“They’re neutral, they go with a lot,” he explains. “They’re not too cold or too warm and they kind of blend with a lot of other colors.”

In the living room or guest room, create the look of wallpaper with paint with a faux finish, which layers glaze with base colors, he says