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New York designer Lauri Ward, founder of the Interior Refiners Network, rearranged this living room and left the homeowner a plan for more improvements.
New York designer Lauri Ward, founder of the Interior Refiners Network, rearranged this living room and left the homeowner a plan for more improvements.
Provided by Lauri Ward

Making a Plan

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

What do you need?

Decorating help that's quick and decisive. You're not necessarily interested in the latest decorating trends, or planning to spend a lot of money. But you want your home to function better, look more attractive and be more comfortable.

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Maybe you are combining two households or moving or downsizing, and you're not sure what to keep and what to toss. Or maybe you're planning a special party (or expecting your in-laws) and are in need of a one-day makeover.

Who can help?

An "interior refiner" may fill the bill. The trademarked term was coined by Lauri Ward, a New York designer who started her use-what-you-have business in 1981. She recognized there was a market for design advice that could be accomplished quickly, relying mostly on furnishings the clients already owned. Her 1998 book "Use What You Have Decorating" is a consistent top seller at Amazon.com. Refiners take a five-day certification class in New York or complete classes online. There are more than 300 active members, including about a dozen in this area. The use-what-you-have approach has been adapted by many practitioners who specialize in one-day or per-hour consultations.

What w ill they do?

Refiners visit clients' homes and work alongside them to improve the function and style of a room within hours. They move sofas and chairs, swap lamps and arrange bookshelves. They leave a written plan of action for each room, sometimes suggesting future purchases. They also will shop with or for their clients. Some will consult specifically on paint colors; on displaying art and accessories; or on readying a house for resale.

What won't they do?

Don't confuse done-in-a-day refiners with organizers, declutterers or cleaning services. They are distinguished from many redesigners and restagers because they work while the client is on-site.

How much will it cost?

Members of Interior Refiners charge a flat per-room fee ranging from $250 to $350 for rooms less than 19 feet long; more for larger spaces. Other quick-fix decorators usually charge either per-room or by the hour.

How to find one?

To find an Interior Refiner in your area, see http://www.interiorrefiners.com; for others who provide similar services, check the classifieds or online Yellow Pages under Interior Designers and Decorators.

Jura Koncius


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