Creative New Decorating Ideas

HGTV Magazine features an Austin, TX home where every room has a "great idea" moment. Steal a few for your own place.
By: Kathleen Hackett

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

Photo By: David Tsay

A Dream Home

When Gretchen and Daniel Scardino moved from New Orleans, La., to Austin, Texas, in 2002, they found the house they wanted right away: a 1907 Victorian with a large porch on a friendly looking block. The only problem: It wasn't for sale! They ended up buying a two-bedroom bungalow across the street from their dream home, but five years later the dream house was up for grabs.

Becoming Home

Thanks to a strong offer, the house was theirs. After a series of hapless renovations and weird configurations (it had once served as a school dormitory), the family moved in. Then Gretchen set about filling the home with loads of clever decorating moves. We bet you'll find yourself thinking, "I never thought of that before!"

Mixing Modern and Country at the Table

"My style has always been a bit nonconformist," says Gretchen, which is one of the reasons she combined the modern Bertoia-style chairs, made popular in the 1950s, with the pine farm table from a local flea market in her kitchen. The chairs keep the room from feeling too country.

Hanging a Pair of Chandeliers in the Kitchen

Rather than more predictable pendants, Gretchen hung two vintage chandeliers over the table. They're similar in style but not identical twins. "Crystal is unexpected in a kitchen," she says. Most likely meant for a powder room, the chandeliers add glamour to the hardest-working place in the house.

Using Mirrors As a Backsplash

Gretchen chose mirrors for the backsplash and outlet plates (from "They're generally cheaper than tile, and they're easy to clean — just a squirt of Windex does the trick," she says.

Painting Walls a Dark, Dramatic Color

If a room gets a lot of light, you can try a rich paint color. "This gray, Dark Ash by Behr, makes the room feel cozy, not cavelike, which is a tricky balance," says Gretchen.

Suspending a Jumbo Pendant

A factory floodlight from a flea market creates a beautiful glow. and have good assortments of industrial-style fixtures.

Leaving the Windows Bare

"Not every window needs a curtain," says Gretchen, especially when you have wide, detailed trim. By painting the ceiling and trim glossy white, the room always feels bright. Dense red-tip Photinia shrubs around the perimeter of the house provide privacy.

Stacking Artwork

A leaning gallery of frames is a totally commitment-free way to display your art. You can move it whenever you want and never have to worry about holes in the walls. The yellow steel chair is from

Turning a Wall Into Storage Space

"I think of the hallway as another room in the house," says Gretchen. The family's photo albums live on the standalone shelves, which also hold canvas storage bins from The Container Store for books and toys. Gretchen keeps favorite playthings on the bottom shelves for Gus, 6, and John, 3.

Hanging Wallpaper in Just a Hallway

Wallpaper can be pricey. If you find one you love (like Gretchen did with this trellis design by Kelly Wearstler) but don't want to spend a fortune papering a whole room, relegate the pretty pattern to a stair landing or a hallway. These fun prints, from a 1930s elementary school textbook, are a flea market find.

Plunking Down a Trunk As a Nightstand

The fire-engine red metal trunk is from a local junk shop. "I wanted a low nightstand so my boys could reach everything," says Gretchen. The 20-inch-high trunk nestles nicely between the two beds.

Layering Carpet Shapes Over Carpet

Wall-to-wall carpeting can get boring in a kids' room. Consider placing a few circular area rugs (from IKEA) over it to liven things up.

Rethinking the Reading Lamp

Gretchen needed lights that would work below the sloped ceiling in her sons' bedroom. "I found these in the home office section of IKEA, and the boys can position them however they want when they're in bed," she says. "I also like their quirky shape."

Setting Up an Outdoor Living Room

The swing was custom-designed to accommodate a twin mattress, and now it's a sweet spot the kids like to nap on. "I hung it with natural rope instead of a chain, which feels warmer and more indoorsy," Gretchen says.

Creating Windows on a Porch

A trio of cotton panels and a brushed-metal rod from Pottery Barn give the illusion of proper windows, but they're outside. "Plus, the drapes provide privacy and shade," she says.

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