Don't stress out, decorating experts say trend is to create 'simple, relaxing feeling'
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When it comes to home-improvement projects, there are three things to keep in mind: reuse, refurbish, restyle. And if that isn't enough for Operation: Cute Room, there's the Spring Home & Garden Festival, at Sandy's South Towne Expo Center Thursday through Sunday.

The festival will feature a smorgasbord of local and national vendors for carpentry, interior design, gardening, landscaping and cooking. There's also a series of classes where experts such as Utah interior designer Anne-Marie Barton and "Design to Sell" HGTV carpenter Brooks Utley, a former Utahn, will share tips for redecorating or planning a design project.

"Where we are right now is a great time for design because everything is classic and very lasting," Barton said. "What I see happening now is a trend toward making homes peaceful and tranquil because our lives are too busy, stressed and distracted. So we look forward to a simple, relaxing feeling in our homes."

Colors like warm vanilla, blue and washed terra cotta are popular, along with more basic fabrics such as cotton and linen. Vessel sinks and free-standing bathtubs are visually classic choices and actually cost less money in a remodel because tile and countertops do not need to be installed, Barton said. Furniture with stripes, waverly, calico or floral patterns is out. Accessories also are being dialed down in favor of a room having one main focal point, such as a painting, light fixture or mirror.

"These are things you spend money on because they're important to the room, then you save money by creating a palette around the focal point," Barton said.

One way to save during a design project is to restore old pieces around the house, which is actually not as hard as it sounds, according to Utley.

"There is so much information out there - TV shows, books, and stuff on the Internet - that can show you the proper way to do it. It's really all about doing the research and planning and figuring out what exactly you want before you start," Utley said. "HGTV is a great resource, and its Web site lists all the products used on the shows."

During the home show, Utley will describe how to turn an old dresser into a vanity, install cabinets and make an outdoor water fountain.

"What I'm going to show people is that mini-makeovers are really easy and cheap while giving it all a custom look, and you're helping to save the environment," Utley said. "You should take ideas you like and run with them. If you're new to all this, one easy way is to follow an example you've seen in a magazine."

Which is not to suggest that all ideas should be based on the newest Pottery Barn catalog.

"If you know nothing more, you should pay attention to the feeling [bigger chain stores] have because they are so current. But the danger is that your designs are too predictable. The most important thing for your house is a mix of old and new. You end up with what I think is the secret ingredient," Barton said. Salt Lake City boutiques, such as Details and Campo, "have wonderful pieces and furniture that really have personality."

"We all have a hard time decorating, but if we teach ourselves how to do this, it will make us more confident to try to do things ourselves again, because ultimately we're our own designers. We're calling the shots," Utley said.

If you go

* The Salt Lake Tribune Spring Home and Garden Festival is at the South Towne Expo Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Hours are Thursday, 2-10 p.m.; Friday, noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $9, $8 for seniors, $7 for kids 7-12, free for kids 6 and younger. Call 801-485-7399 or visit www.saltlakehomeshow.com.

* Barton's seminar, "Rules Meant to Be Broken," is Thursday, 4 and 7 p.m.; Friday, 2 and 6 p.m.; Saturday, 1, 5:30 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 and 4 p.m. For more about Barton, call 801-541-6567.

* Utley's classes are Thursday, 3:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 2:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 12:30, 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. For more information about Utley, visit www.brooksutley.com.

* For a complete schedule of classes, visit www.saltlakehomeshow.com.

Trends in remodeling and home decorating

COLORS are calm and muted - tans, blues and terra cotta, for example.

* DESIGNS are classic and simple, with fewer accessories.

* CREATE a focal point with one large piece, such as a mirror or painting.

* WHEN REMODELING, refurbish or restyle instead of buying new.

* LEARNING to do work yourself will save money.

Sources: Anne-Marie Barton and Brooks Utley