House & Home

Resolved: a stylish, more homey home

January is the perfect time for a purge. Be brutally honest with yourself as you go through each room, sorting, editing and freshening your decor. Do you still love all the accents in your year-round displays? If not, box them up and donate them to a charity. Take a long, hard look at your artwork. Is it dated, faded and tired? If so, commit to upgrading this year.

How about your accent lighting? Are your lamp bases dated? Are the shades dusty and dingy? I think of lamps as artwork — you only want to fill your home with pieces you love. Sometimes all it takes is a new shade to transform the look of a room.

Finally, make a list of the home repair and clean-up projects you need to tackle, such as touching up trim and wall paint, getting carpets and upholstery cleaned, and doing minor household repairs. Make a vow to yourself that each item will be checked off before the first crocus pokes its head through the frozen ground.

Here are more ideas:

* Accent tables should be little stages on which you create scenes that give people a glimpse into your life. This year, resolve to decorate a few of yours with tableaux that showcase things you hold dear and that tell a bit of a story.

* Whether you work from home or just need a spot to pay bills, resolve to make your home workspace both functional and lovely. First, do a thorough evaluation of your existing office space and determine what's working and what's not.

Instead of a utilitarian office chair, consider something more attractive, such as an upholstered piece or a dining table chair. If you love tradition, go for a big leather chair on casters.

What are you doing for storage? If you need a spot to stick files, consider a wood bookcase instead of a metal filing cabinet. Or, for a more casual look, fill an etagere with baskets that hold your files and supplies.

Once the big pieces are in place, pick lovely lamps that will give you task lighting and ambient lighting in the right places. Fill the walls with a mixture of artwork. Liven up your desktop with accessories that help you corral clutter, like a cream pitcher to hold pens, a silver tray to serve as an in-box, and a cluster of picture frames for snapshots.

* If you are empty nesters, rethink your kitchen eating nook. Trade out your dining chairs for comfortable upholstered armchairs.

* Add a dressing table to a special spot. Hang a mirror over the table and, instead of a chair, use a small garden stool.

* Introduce a new accent color to your home, through accessories, pillows, fabrics, paint or art.

* Lighten up a dark corner with an assortment of candlesticks, votives and accent lamps. Try using mirrors to reflect light within a room.

* Use books to bring height to a display or side table. Cover books in seasonal papers to lend an instant design statement.

* Mix traditional, timeless pieces with new designs. If your home is contemporary, layer in one traditional piece to add interest or surprise.