Turn a Tract Home into Your Own Personal Retreat
We’re all familiar with tract homes: white or light gray houses featuring small rooms with white walls, prefab cabinets, a postage stamp of a front and back yard. Well, you can transform one of these generic-looking houses into a personal retreat reflecting your own unique identity; all you need are a little creativity, some paint, and a careful selection of the right furnishings.
First, decide what type of decorative style you want to project. Are you into shabby chic? The simple, elegant lines of Japanese décor? Rustic country designs? Maybe you’re into the currently popular French or Tuscan décor; or the high tech look of modern industrial design. Whatever your choice, a good first step is to look through decorating and architectural design magazines to find a look you want to emulate.
Notice the colors used by the designers to create their signature look, as well as the lighting elements, if possible – the ambiance of a home is a combination of color and light. The wall colors will serve as the foundation of your home décor, so choose the colors you want and put them on the walls; if necessary, take examples of the colors to your local paint store for them to match.
If you’re unhappy with the prefab cabinets in your kitchen, there are cost-effective things you can do. Consider painting them, possibly adding a crackle treatment for a little textural interest. You can also give solid cabinets a lift by cutting out the center panels in each door and replacing them with clear or translucent glass or acrylic. You can add relatively inexpensive stainless steel fronts to your refrigerator, stove and dishwasher to provide a high tech industrial look for your kitchen without the expense of replacing the appliances.
Once you’ve created the color palette for each room, you’re ready to add furniture and accessories. If you want to create a cozy, rustic environment, consider putting warm, southwestern colors on your walls and then adding a selection of solid log furniture. Drape some colorful Indian blankets over the sofas and chairs, add some thematic art to the walls and some pottery and colorful carved gourds, and you’ve quickly brought the Southwest into your home.
Attracted to the simplicity of Asian design? The minimalist lines of modern tract housing are actually highly conducive to this popular look. Add clean, low-built Japanese furniture – futon inspired sofas, end tables, coffee tables, graduated tonsu cabinets – with Japanese paper lanterns, shoji screens, either freestanding or sliding, and plenty of pillows with silk or batik cloth. Make sure you go back to your magazines for inspiration; colors used in Japanese-inspired décor run the gamit from soft blues and greens to brilliant reds and oranges.
Don’t forget to add natural accents to your Asian surroundings – bonsai trees, potted palms, bamboo. Also add a water feature, in the form of a table fountain or corner indoor miniature pond.
Make sure not to neglect the outdoors; even if you have a tiny front or back yard, you can create a private, peaceful getaway by planting trees and bushes to separate you from your neighbors, then adding a wooden deck or a flagstone area with outdoor furniture, lighting, and a stove or barbecue.
The seemingly impersonal, minimalist nature of tract housing can actually act as a blank canvas for your creativity. So break out the paint chips, pull out that stack of design magazines, and start planning!