A Publication of WTVP

With spring fever symptoms lingering on into the long days of summer, many restless residents may be seeking to spruce up their surroundings. For Michelle Miller, president of Inspired Redesigns, decorating comes by nature. Since she was a child, the Milwaukee native was drawn toward interior design and even longed for the latest issue of Parade of Homes. After spending 15 years in the computer science field and decorating family and friends’ homes, Miller took a leap and started a new business. Today she makes a point to visit model homes in different parts of the United States to see the styles emerging from different regions. She also finds inspiration from various trade shows as well as from magazines and television programs.

Whether you’re hoping to sell your home for top dollar or just want a makeover for your abode, there are plenty of options, according to Miller. A recent move, marriage or baby can throw many dwellings into a tailspin, and Miller’s Dunlap-based business can put living spaces back on track with a few simple changes that may not be so obvious to the homeowner. “I think when you combine a household or have individuals who have lived in their homes a long time, we see a common problem of too much of everything!” Miller said. “Individuals who combine their things don’t take the great opportunity of moving to rid themselves of excess items; instead they bring everything with them in hopes of establishing their own taste and personality into the new space.”

Long-time nesters seem to have the most trouble parting with lasting items even though the items don’t fit into the existing space, so Miller often serves as the voice of reason. “Consultants don’t have personal attachments to the items in your home, therefore it is easier for us to view the practicality of an item and whether or not you really need to hang on to it for another year or so,” Miller said. “We work to make your room look its best and often times that means removing things. Realistically, you keep things in your house that you really never look at because you are used to them being there all the time. If you pare down your items and rotate things every once in awhile, your room will have a fresh look and you will likely notice the new items more than you ever did before.”

There are times when Miller realizes she needs to push a client beyond a comfort zone because it will make for a better design and in the end, leave the client happy, but that takes trust. “You have to know when to back off because the client just isn’t ready for that much change; it’s a fine line that you walk,” Miller said. “Budget is another important aspect and I really try to work within the guidelines given. The problem with a lot of shows on television is that the rooms are really fabulous but how much did it (really) cost to achieve that look? Remember they never charge for labor on those shows.” With budgets in mind, Miller has learned how to be creative and breathe new life into existing items.

This concept of “interior redesign” is a new decorating philosophy, according to the Interior Redesign Industry Specialists group, of which Miller is a member. Based on design techniques and keeping an eye on balance, scale, texture and color, redesign specialists are able to stamp life back into rooms. Focusing on the architectural elements of the home and furniture, Miller creates a clean, well-defined space in just a few hours. Starting with an assessment of the room and furnishings, Miller decides what can add the most “oomph.”

“Paint can make the single biggest change to a room, more than anything else. However, it needs to be the right shade of paint in order for that impact to be positive,” Miller said. “Using a paint consultant is an inexpensive way of avoiding bigger costs later. Yes, paint is cheap but it’s not that cheap nor is the labor. I don’t know too many people who enjoy painting that much that they would want to repaint a room they just completed.”

Paint colors must blend with the furnishings of the room, which is usually the starting point for Miller. Keeping the furnishings in mind, she usually offers a few color options and asks clients for their input.

This year muted neutrals are playing a starring role on many walls, but soft golds, corals and greens are playing a part as well, Miller said. Blues and browns are also hot with retailers and designers. And this spring, black and white was slowly creeping onto the color palate. By fall, Miller bets that black and white will be even more popular. But paint isn’t the only way to add that “wow factor”—wallpaper is now making another comeback.

“In some instances people are just wallpapering a single wall to add punch,” Miller said. “The thing you get with wallpaper that you don’t with paint is intricate design. Wallpaper is also good when you want geographic shapes or multi-stripe walls—to pay a painter to simulate that look would cost you a fortune. There are some that will never go the wallpaper route, but I challenge them to see all the new great designs that are out there. The adhesive that many wallpaper companies are using today is making the removal of the paper so much easier. I think wallpaper removal is still the biggest hurdle people have with using the product.”

For people wanting to pack it up in their home and give it that added “punch” for prospective home buyers, Miller is able to provide a door-to-door checklist. It signals homeowners to areas deemed as “fix-its” and gives a starting point to prepare their home for resale. “With staging a home I find we do more packing up than adding,” Miller said. “You are moving anyway so we are just getting a jump on the process. Too much clutter gives the feeling of a messy home which many buyers will interpret as unkempt. Once the potential buyer has the feeling that the home hasn’t been kept up, they will start to question if the big things have been kept up and they will likely walk away. Additionally, too much stuff lying around leads buyers to think that the home doesn’t have enough storage, which is always a huge concern for home buyers.”

What Miller does most is break down assumptions. Many times people think that they need more furniture to create that sleek, designer look, but they really just need to tweak what they already have into the best atmosphere. “Just think about clothes you wear; you don’t get a new wardrobe every season, but instead you might buy a piece or two to spice things up. The same goes for your home. Buy something new for the focal points of your home, like the coffee table or the fireplace mantle. These are areas that will have a big impact and infuse an up-to-date look without having to replace everything in the room. Pillows or throws are another good way to infuse some of the hot colors of the season,” Miller said. “If you are really sick of how the whole thing works, then a redesign is a relatively inexpensive way to give your room a whole new look. It’s amazing how different a room can look using things you own in a different way.”

For more information visit or call Miller at 472-3322. TPW