Vol 6 No. 44 - July 26, 2006

Decorate and design your house online

By Louise Bolger

I don’t want to say that interior designers and home decorators are following travel agents into the never never land of obsolete specialists, but every day that goes by there are more and more internet Web-sites ready to help you with your design and decorating decisions. These are some that will walk you through the web of choices, or at the very least give you a leg up when you finally do consult a professional.

If your kitchen and bathroom countertops are starting to look like 1980s distressed wood furniture, it’s time to start thinking about replacement. Nothing gets you more bang for your buck than updating kitchens and baths, and now you can actually design the color and product you want and price the job on line. Corian.com gives you the ability to a chose cabinets that resemble yours, insert the color of your walls and choose the materials and color countertops you would like from a large pallet of colors and products. You can even choose what type of edge the countertops should have — bevel, bull nose, ogee — and chose a sink style as well.

After you’ve done all this, you click on their price estimator and you’re walked through how to measure for both the countertops and black splash (this feature alone is invaluable). Fill in that number and an estimated range will appear. It’s certainly not a firm estimate from a local contractor, but there’s enough information to let you know if you want to go for the granite or a lower end product.

Marble.com is another site that has a granite and marble virtual showroom with downloads and mix and match rooms.

Picking flooring on line also gives you lots of options. You can choose style and color for carpeting, ceramic, laminate, hardwood and even area rugs. There are lots of tips on purchasing and measuring. Stainmaster.com. mohaw-flooring.com, miragefloors.com and armstrong.com will get you started.

Baliblinds.com has a virtual decorator option that allows you to not only pick out your window treatment style, color and fabric, but also permits you to change the color of the contents of a room to mimic your home. You can "virtually" change the color of your furniture, right down to the pillows, flooring and walls, to see how your choice of window treatments will work. Smithandnoble.com and hunterdouglas.com are additional Web-sites that will make you swoon.

As much fun as countertops, flooring and window treatments can be, the ultimate decorating high comes from paint. Some of these sites I discussed a year ago, but it’s worth mentioning again if you missed it first time. Behr.com, benjaminmoore.com, valsparatlowes.com and sherwin-williams.com (my personal favorite) will do more for your decorating addiction than 100 issues of Architectural Digest. These sites will also allow you to change the color of walls, cabinets and trim so you can mix and match what works best for your home. I actually used the Sherwin Williams site when picking a color for my kitchen and believe me it works, saving a lot of experimentation and anxiety.

Even though redesigning your kitchen or bathroom online may be the most fun you’ve had since your first dollhouse, don’t discount the importance of expert advice. We certainly don’t all have an artistic and innovative eye, not to mention the time to do all the online research required. But you can sure have a blast mixing counter tops with cabinets, paint with carpeting and window treatments with furniture. It certainly can make a rainy day fly by.

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