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New To The Decor Thing? Let Lisa Help.

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Lisa Palmer of SummerHouse says paint is the quickest and cheapest way to change the look of your home.

Lisa Palmer, owner of the delightful interior showroom SummerHouse (1109 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite D, Ridgeland, 601-853-4445), has been in the interior design business since 1997 (and can sing like nobody's business, but that's another story). She offers her decorating suggestions and expertise to first time home or apartment owners.

What are some suggestions you have for decorating on a budget?
Research. I think it's important that you get online, and you see what's out there. Once you come up with a dollar figure of what your budget is, determine where you want to put the most of your budget. I think it should really be your seating; it's got to be comfortable, and it's got to be well made. A sofa can be recovered in 10 years, and then in 20 years. If it's well made, it's probably one of the best investments you'll make.

People that have their first home, they don't even know the good furniture companies and furniture lines. So going on designer blogs and looking at designer magazines will get you familiar with what's out there. Of course you can always talk with an interior designer. We're used to working on a budget.

Are there any specific blogs or magazines you would recommend?
Probably for first-time buyers, I would recommend Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams' blog (http://www.mgbwhome.com). We (SummerHouse) have a blog (http://www.summerhousestyle.com/blog), and we're always posting about new fabrics and items we've got. There's an online magazine we love called Lonny Magazine (http://www.lonnymag.com/decorate). And Shoebox D├ęcor (http://shoeboxdecor.blogspot.com) is a good one. She has good style and great budget tips.

What are some simple ideas for decorating a space?
Well the first thing you need to do is to try and unleash your own personal style by looking through magazines and online magazines. Your personal style is going to change as you age. You might not be so bold when you get older, so you might want more investment pieces that will last longer.

I think a really great tip for changing a space is, number one, paint. Paint is about the least expensive thing you can do to a room. You may see a room that has a rich, dark charcoal wall paint, and that will change a space in a heartbeat.

Number two is pillows. If you have a simple off-white sofa, and you have a traditional aesthetic, you might want a blue and white toile on that pillow. If you decide years down the road you want to go more modern, you pull those pillows off and put a fun, bright turquoise graphic on there. You've totally changed the personality of that sofa.

How do you find pieces?
Well, it depends on your budget. If you're on a tight budget, then I would absolutely scout flea markets and scout garage sales. Honestly, flea markets to me have some of the best poster art and a lot of 1960s, 1970s pieces that can be reused by painting them a bright color or putting a different lampshade on it. And there are some great online sites. There's a really great one I found in California called Circa Who (http://www.circawho.com), and you can find great mid-century pieces there.

How do you tie the parts of a room together?
There are certain things that we learn when we're in design school, like balance, rhythm, repetition and scale, that you need for a room to come together and feel right. Repetition of a color is always a great way. Say your color is turquoise and you have a drapery that's graphic and turquoise and white. Repeat that turquoise again in the sofa. Repeat it again in a rug. Also, when you're accessorizing, if you find a fabulous bottle that you love, have a collection of bottle on a table. And repeat that throughout the space.

Anything else you recommend?
I'm going to say hire a professional. I think it's the best money you'll ever spend. Do your research and make sure that person is good at what they do and has your sense of style. And the reason why I say that is because that's what we do every single day. We know the fabrics; we know what's the most bang for your buck in upholstered pieces or case goods.

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