This living room was made over by Sandy Dixon, executive director of Interior Redesign Industry Specialists, using what the homeowner already owned.
This living room was made over by Sandy Dixon, executive director of Interior Redesign Industry Specialists, using what the homeowner already owned.
Photos Provided by Sandy Dixon
Clarification to This Article
The Home article used the headline "Using What You Have" to refer to services provided by Interior Redesign Industry Specialists (IRIS). The phrase "Use What You Have" is the registered trademark of Lauri Ward, founder of the Interior Refiners Network (IRN), also featured in the article. The "Use What You Have" system educates clients about redecorating with their existing furnishings while they are present, and provides a written plan for future changes. IRIS rearranges furnishings while the clients are off the premises.

Using What You Have

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What do you need?

Do you fantasize about having your living room picked for one of those one-day makeover shows on cable television? Do you have so much stashed in the garage or basement that you have furnishings you don't even remember? Would you gladly let someone take over your house and Just Do It? You might be a candidate for a redesigner who will shoo you out to then rethink, rearrange and edit your furnishings before welcoming you back to the big reveal. It's basically design-in-a-day by an energetic person with a practiced eye and common sense who will help you find style and livability in what you already own.

Who can help?

Members of a nine-year-old organization called the Interior Redesign Industry Specialists (IRIS) practice that kind of get-it-done design. They first confer with clients about the problem, whether the room is too cluttered, too dated or just isn't useful. Next, they "shop the home" to find what there is to work with. Then the clients depart, and the redesigner goes to work layering furniture, lighting, art and accessories. IRIS Executive Director Sandy Dixon of Evergreen, Colo., says the group has about 1,000 members nationwide who have completed the organization's five-day redesigning course. Some members specialize in "restaging" houses that are for sale. The IRIS Web site lists 32 members in Maryland and 36 in Virginia.

The one-day makeover approach, popularized on TV home shows, has been embraced by the design marketplace, and there are plenty of redesigners and restagers not associated with IRIS.

What will they do?

Typically, redesigners will empty a room then put it back together, using paintings, lamps or chairs in a new way. Some bring along a van of what they call "props": lamps, rugs or plants (usually artificial) available for sale. Some have niche specialties such as redisplaying accessories, hanging art or holiday decorating.

What won't they do?

They don't address bigger decisions such as moving walls or remodeling or replacing flooring.

How much will it cost?

IRIS members charge $50 to $150 an hour; others may charge by the room.

How to find one?

IRIS members can be found on the group's Web site at Other redesigners are in listings for decorators in the Yellow Pages or classifieds.

Jura Koncius

© 2008 The Washington Post Company