Good Life

Fall season starts with home projects

Whether they choose to play it safe or go bold, many area homeowners are starting the season with projects around the home, local business owners say.

“There are lots of beautiful colors, richer colors,” says Sherry Dershimer of Sherry E. Dershimer Interior Designs in State College.

“So much is available.

“Colors have changed over the last few years to deeper, richer — I hesitate to use the word strong — but by any standards, they are stronger in the pigment. You’ll see medium greens, but with very strong pigment and some yellow in them, or deep Mediterranean kind of blues with a little green in them or even maybe a little bit of purple.”

Fabrics are keeping pace with wall hues, Dershimer says, and manufacturers are offering more abstract floral patterns than the formal, more structured florals popular in the past.

“You’re going to see flowers always when you see fabrics, but they may not look like anything that grows in your garden,” she says. “The scale of the fabric is very important. If it’s too giant and you don’t like it, you’re going to see that pattern staring at you every day. Take the time to go through the fabrics and really fall in love.”

Switching up pillows or drapes can offer a quick, budget-friendly update for those who aren’t ready to fully overhaul a room.

“You can have a few accessory items you change seasonally,” Dershimer says. “For example, you can have vases you use only for fall. You can go out and you can gather greens, a variety that are indigenous to our area. Make a vase full of beautiful shades, add a little pine, rhododendron. We don’t have to have flowers. Green is rich. That’s a good color.”

For those who want a more conservative look, neutrals can offer a sensible foundation, says Nancy Stewart, owner of Creative Interiors and a State College area interior designer for 26 years.

“With continued unrest in the economy and world affairs, styles are leaning toward safe, traditional, comforting neutrals, especially in large items like sofas and carpets,” she says. “People are accessorizing with accent colors and items that reflect their taste. Deep greens, indigo blues and feminine pinks are popular, as well as browns, but more toward mocha and cinnamon than chocolate.”

Metallic details can add personality, too, she says.

“Gold and silver accents, studs, grommets and rivets and shiny, framed mirrors are all popular,” she says.

When deciding which room to revamp first, Stewart says updating eating areas can offer the biggest impact.

“Right now, because of this comfort thing we’ve been in, people aren’t going out to to eat as much, so look to the kitchen or dining room.”

For furniture, traditional styles are a safe bet, she says.

Homeowners are opting for furniture that easily can be tailored to match the feel of a room’s prominent features, says Josh Rinier at the Room Doctor in College Township.

Shelving units in renewable, solid southern yellow pine have been a hot seller in recent weeks, both because they can be purchased in different shapes and sizes and because they can be stained to suit a customer’s liking.

“A lot of people like our furniture because it doesn’t have a finish,” Rinier says. “It can be customized. A lot of people come to us with custom projects, too, because we have a wood shop just down the road.”

The unfinished wood products — bed frames, loft beds, end tables and coffee tables — also make great additions to rustic-type styles, he says, and other types of woods are available, too.

Outside the home, many families are opting to spruce up the yard or even create eye-catching designs, says Anne Lieb, of Moon Brothers Landscaping. The College Township firm is a full service landscape design, installation and maintenance company with a focus on the residential market.

“This time of year, especially with the Penn State football season, we see people creating outdoor living spaces to entertain guests at their home,” Lieb says. “Patios with kitchens and fireplaces create great atmosphere for tailgating and other activities. Fall is also a great time to plant around these entertainment spaces, from lawns to trees, shrubs and perennials.”

The yard can also be a great place to highlight personal style, she adds.

“We have done custom-made metal artwork to grow plants and espalier trees, which creates a unique art piece in the landscape, along with giving the plants a strong structure to grow on. We have also taken a natural spring that ran through the middle of the yard making the area very wet and unusable and defined the space with natural stone to highlight the stream and turn it into a focal area of the landscape.”

With major updates, such as siding, homeowners still are sensitive to energy efficiency, but that doesn’t mean the changes can’t offer a cosmetic improvement, too, says Rick Breon, of Ronald W. Johnson Home Improvements Inc. in Potters Mills.

“Energy-related projects never seem to go out of vogue,” he says. “We do a lot of insulated windows and doors.”

Front doors, especially, are being offered in a myriad of styles and colors, a trend to bump up curb appeal.

“Certainly doors can be as fancy as your imagination,” Breon says. “Door manufacturers have offered more and more options between wood grain and smooth and fiberglass and steel and multiple colors and wood finishes.

“It’s the same with windows.”

The company, which is celebrating its 50th year, is primarily an exterior remodeler.

“Now, we’re upgrading old aluminum siding homes built in the ‘70s and are switching over to vinyl,” he says. “Homeowners are simply looking for a something new, bright and easier to clean.

“And nobody sees energy prices going down. It’s a matter of how fast or slow they’re going to rise. That has to be a concern of every homeowner: If I make an improvement in my home, what’s the payback in energy savings?”