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How to Get Started Refreshing Your Home

July 30, 2021

by Caron Blitz

Are you eager to renovate or refresh your home after spending countless hours within the same walls? But are you hindered by the overwhelming hurdle of where to start?


To help ease the process, we asked local interior design experts for home improvement pointers and where to shop for furniture.


First step

Beth of Beth Downs Interiors emphasizes the importance of smart planning and suggests asking yourself the following questions as a first step:

  • Do I have a budget and timeline?
  • Can I find pictures that illustrate my expectations for the design direction?
  • Should I hire an interior designer and if so, would I limit the designer’s role to consultation only or do I have the budget for a wider range of services such as space planning, design concepts, purchasing and project management?

Once you have addressed these questions, your designer can help you pinpoint specifics necessary to creating a plan that meets your expectations.


Think it through

Jill of J. Addis Interiors says, “I can’t emphasize enough how essential strategic planning is to avoid costly mistakes.” She presents her clients with samples or illustrations of materials to get a feel for their style and color preferences in addition to learning how rooms will be used as well as details like storage requirements.


Jill’s list of top mistakes to avoid:

  • Buying furniture and fixtures too early in the process
  • Setting an unrealistic budget
  • Overlooking references for vendors and how they charge
  • Measuring incorrectly
  • Forfeiting functionality to be trendy
  • Ignoring construction details 
  • Choosing the wrong contractors and materials (including paint)
  • Buying impulsively
  • Working without a permit when required

Designers can save stress and money

Too often interior designers are not consulted in efforts to save money or because some folks believe they can handle the project. “But,” Jill explains, “hiring a designer that you connect with and has the expertise for the particular project can actually save you stress, time and money in the long run with the professional’s discounts and access to trusted home improvement professionals.” Interior designers typically charge by the hour or by the project depending on what is involved. Some, like Jill, pass along their discounts on retail purchases so you pay only for her time.


Revamped work and outdoor spaces

Interior designers Jill and Beth agree that the pandemic has triggered the biggest trend in today’s home improvement projects: creating and accommodating workspace and expanding or re-doing outdoor living space. 


They emphasize that patience is a virtue more now than ever when planning a renovation. Current events have caused backlogs in deliveries from parts to appliances to furniture, so best to allow for extra time.


Sometimes new workspaces can be achieved without construction and simply by repurposing existing pieces. “Sprucing up and transforming a room can be easily accomplished with a fresh coat of paint on the walls, changing lighting and rearranging furniture,” Jill suggests.


Hot Trends

  • Constructing built-ins to optimize small spaces
  • Simplifying spaces, less clutter
  • Blending various interior styles
  • Adding wallpaper
  • Warming up rooms with earthy, neutral colors and accents of brighter colors
  • Rethinking formal rooms for a more casual and comfortable style
  • Installing floating shelves to display pictures, glassware, art, books, plants

As a special offer for friends of NSSC, Jill is offering a complimentary two-hour consultation. Contact her at:

Jill Addis, J. Addis Interiors

1200 Shermer Road, Suite 112, Northbrook





Free Design Services at Local Furniture Retailers

Many local furniture stores are now offering personal appointments for comfortable and safe shopping experiences in the store or at home. In addition to free virtual and in-person design services, they provide room planners so you can see how furniture will fit and some have 3-D tools using your exact dimensions to visualize how your room will look.

Ashley HomeStore

Bob’s Discount Furniture

Crate and Barrel

Ethan Allen

La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries


Pottery Barn

Toms Price Home

Walter E. Smithe


Periodically, some retailers offer a senior discount. It never hurts to ask!

If you are a bargain hunter who enjoys looking for furniture at house sales and discount outlets like The Dump, but do not know how to get your purchases home, check out www.Dolly.com, a flexible and affordable delivery service.


Donate treasures to The Shop

As you refresh your rooms, keep The Shop at the Center in mind for your donations of items you no longer need like glassware and smaller art pieces (no furniture). 

As a 60+ Savvy Shopper living in Riverwoods, Caron Blitz gets what folks our age look for in products and is always on the lookout for “fun finds” and the best values. For future columns, she’d love to hear what you, The Shopper, would like us to feature. If you are a retailer, let us know what special products and services you offer for older adults. Email: SavvyShopperColumn@gmail.com