Just the Thing: Sometimes All it takes to ‘make a room’ is one unique, surprising or offbeat item.

I wrote several interior design pieces for Content That Works.

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You’re done decorating, but the room still just doesn’t feel right.Spiral vine screen from Palacek.

That might be because you haven’t found The Thing.

We talked to dozens of interior designers about their favorite item that can make a big statement without costing a fortune. Here are their picks.

Unique Artwork
Invest in a high-quality poster that captures your imagination. Fine artist Timothy Martin’s whimsical prints of furniture, animals and flowers are an example of contemporary, offbeat artwork that instantly can set a mood. Cat Wei, a New York architect and co-host of the DIY network show “Material Girls,” loves black-and-white photography. That’s what she often picks up on her world travels. “I love etchings, as long as they are not the cheesy, souvenir types,” Wei says. “It’s all in the framing. Pair a photo or etching with a sophisticated frame, and you’re fine.”

A Running Water Fountain
Position it near the foyer or dining room and have it turned on when receiving guests and during dinner. Indoor fountains create a calming atmosphere, says Rosemary Abell, a design consultant for DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, Apex, N.C. The music created by falling water is important; make sure to hear water flowing through a fountain before you buy one. Think about whether you’re looking for something rambunctious, or something that’s soothing and more integrated into the sounds of nature. Popular are small water walls and tranquil Moorish-style pools, where side jets infuse the water with the softest of burbles.

Up Lights
Up lights, especially positioned in the pots of floor plants, can provide immediate drama. “These are great for special ambience in either the formal living room or dining room,” Abell says. Plants alone fill empty spaces, hide undesirable features and make a space feel homey. Using halogen up lights to illuminate them is especially useful in dark corners. Up lights direct light at the ceiling, which reflects it back. Lamps can be freestanding, mounted on the wall or set in the floor. Wide-beam reflectors provide ambient lighting; use narrow beams for accent lighting.

More Lights
Designers who want to quickly transform a room often will pay special attention to lighting. However, lighting often doesn’t even make the Think About list, much less the To-Do list, of DIY renovators. Take a cue from the pros and get a little “light-headed.” Add lights in unusual places. San Francisco designer Brian Ogan advocates the use of lighting as art. In his own loft, he broke up the space of his tall vertical rooms by dropping lights down from the ceiling to eye-level. He used simple industrial steel domes, which are not expensive and make a big statement. He also transformed a concrete wall by installing dozens of inexpensive votive candle holders in a pattern, resulting in a dramatic “wall of flames.”

Pillows, Pillows, Pillows
Add colorful throw pillows to the couch. This is a great way to bring in beautiful colors that add warmth to a neutral-colored space. They won’t be with you forever, so take a risk with color for once, already! If your budget is really tight, make new covers for the ones you have. Use fabric to create a new duvet cover, new shams and decorative pillows for the cost of about 10 yards of fabric.

The full text of this article was originally published in the News Syndicate.

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