Have you ever strolled through a model home and been so inspired by its interior decor that you ran home to call the movers?

If so, your reaction didn't happen by accident.

When they decorate models in housing projects, interior designers try to create real-life situations -- something that appeals to people so strongly they want to buy the model apartment of home. It's a concept they call "psycho-designing" -- decorating with a specific group in mind.

"We try to create an environment that the average person can walk through and say 'Aha! We can live here,'" said Shelly Barrad, of Chicago's Designs Inc. "What we try to do straight across the board, is gear what ever models we do toward a specific market."

Market guidelines are made up according to age, life style, tastes and the budget of the potential customer.

"Most people have a warm and pleasant experience when they're children, so when decorating (a model), we try to take objects customers may have enjoyed when they were younger and put them in the model home," said interior designer Paul Stuck.

For example, some models at an apartment complex being concerted to condominiums were designed for people about 30 years old.

"They were decorated with Depression-era furnishings," he said. "The stuff that the (target) group's parents bought during the Depression and used at home." Items include old oak veneer tables and brass planters, found at the Salvation Army, antique auctions or flea markets. "We just recycle them -- clean them up -- and they look really great," he said.

A one-bedroom apartment model in another building was decorated with the single, male, business executive in mind. The unit is set up for a man who entertains and is decorated with sectional seating and glass-topped tables, Barrad said.

Decorating with second-hand collectibles is just one more way to make a place exciting, Stuck said. "The junkiest antique shop really shouldn't offend anyone. That's where you can bargain and come across some wonderful things."

"Wonderful things" include ginger jar lamps, oil hurricane lamps, antique boxes and containers, plates, eating utensils and other knickknacks that can cost as little as $2 or as much as $1,000.

Does all "psycho-designing" geared to a special customer actually make units easier to sell or rent?

"When you decorate for a certain age group it turns them (the customers) on," Stuck said. He cited the example of a project in which he hit upon the right idea.

"It was what I call the '25-er' age group (from 21 to 25). The generation was raised without a lot of roots" and a lot of things they could identify with, he said.

"These people all developed individual, natural life styles. They liked things with antler horns, sea shells, dry branches and trees that are unusual in shape and right down to the very essence of life.

"So, we did an apartment with a lot of shells -- very simple and functional.

The people who came in to buy the units bought them all out in two weeks!"