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5 home decor tips you and your guests will love

Tired of that dated kitchen counter? Looking to add oomph to your dining room? Now that summer 2011 is entering its twilight, why not get a jump on fall decorating season by thinking about ways to improve your home with ease. As a pair of top design pros tell Globe Style, simple yet strategic interventions - a new lighting fixture or faucet, a dramatic hallway revamp - can yield a surprising amount of impact

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1. Divide and conquer To jazz up a lacklustre dining room containing a less-than-exciting matching suite, ditch the chairs that came with the table in favour of contrasting-yet-complementary ones, residential designer Sabrina Linn (www.sabrinalinn.com) says. Simpatico pairings include chocolate leather highbacks with a lighter oak table, ornate Queen Annes with a modern mirrored table or funky round-backed chairs with a rustic walnut one. If the table is long and rectangular, install two armchairs or wingbacks at either end for yet more contrast. And if the room is devoid of a rug, install a sisal, seagrass or sexy silk one to corral the whole vignette.

Tonwen Jones/Tonwen Jones/Colagene

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2. Lose the edge That elaborately curvy kitchen counter or island with fussy edges may have suggested a customized look to the previous owners of your home, Toronto-based Linn says, but such details can now look horribly dated. To both update your kitchen and give it a timeless appeal, she advises, replace any snaky, curved, carved or otherwise ornate counter- and island tops with cleanly stylish square-edged versions.

Tonwen Jones/Tonwen Jones/Colagene

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3. Be a cut up Are you in the dark about how to brighten up a long, poorly lit hallway? To allow more light into the space, replace any standard interior doors with ones that have etched-glass inserts, which will offer complete privacy yet allow light to pour into the hall from other rooms, Toronto decorating expert and TV personality Karl Lohnes says. Moreover, he adds, hang or lean large floor mirrors along the wall across from the doors; this will visually widen the hallway, creating an airy effect and bouncing light around. Finally, visually shorten the hall by installing two to three small rugs instead of one long runner, hanging a series of overhead lighting fixtures and choosing a paint colour that is similar in tone to the flooring – when the walls and floor share similar tones, the space looks less delineated.

Tonwen Jones/Tonwen Jones/Colagene

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4. Aim high Too often, Linn says, homeowners install inadequate overhead lighting, whether it’s bad track lighting in a living room or kitchen or a meagre-looking hanging lamp in a bedroom or den. In all four cases, a dramatic chandelier, whether ornate or contemporary, is guaranteed to enliven, creating a focal point for the eye as well as better illumination. (And don’t forget to install a dimmer with it.)

Tonwen Jones/Tonwen Jones/Colagene

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5. Play (with) taps If you’re happy with your countertops but your kitchen still lacks elegance, try replacing faucets, cabinet pulls or backsplashes for new and instant pizzazz, Lohnes says. Regarding pulls and knobs, choose oiled bronze hardware for a casual look or polished black ones if you want a modern feel. In terms of faucets, gooseneck varieties are still popular, but go with a sharply angled or geometric one for a contemporary effect. And when it comes to backsplashes, connect the upper and lower cabinets with one in a contrasting yet complementary tone: A tiny tumbled-stone subway tile will help achieve a casual look, whereas a large-scale, high-gloss glass tile has a more modern feel.

Tonwen Jones/Tonwen Jones/Colagene

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