Often described as one of life’s most stressful events, moving can test the strength of even the happiest relationships. If there’s a new address in your future, three St. Louis designers have tips on how to personalize your new space with a minimum of angst and inconvenience.

    Painting and other remodeling is easier, of course, if the house is empty, but it’s not always possible to have work done before you begin unpacking boxes. “If you are doing the work yourself, I would advise you to live in the house for a while so you can get a feel for it,” says Holly Blumeyer of Holly Blumeyer Interior Design Group. “It can be inconvenient to have work done while you’re living in your new home, but if you’re using a designer, we’re good at asking the right questions and managing the project with the least amount of upheaval.”

    For particularly messy jobs, like refinishing hardwood floors, Blumeyer suggests vacating the home. “Leave your designer in charge, and check into The Ritz for the weekend.” While you’re dealing with all the details, she adds, don’t forget to take care of yourself. “Moving is enormously stressful. Don’t be afraid to take a break and get a massage. It will make all the difference in the world!”

    Painting is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to personalize your new home, but it’s best to have the painting completed before moving day. That’s the advice of Debbie Donnelly of Donnelly Interiors. “Once you’re in, you aren’t going to want to endure the mess, and the inconvenience of having people in your home all the time.” But before the painting can commence, the colors have to be chosen. “That’s one of the hardest things to do,” says Donnelly. “And those little chips at the paint store are not helpful!” Instead, she suggests painting a board with a color you like and moving it around the room. “The color will change on different walls, and at different times of day. The best thing you can do is to try and find that perfect neutral that goes with the things you own. If the ‘creamy ivory’ you choose has just a hint of yellow, for example, you’re going to have yellow walls. If it’s taupe with a little bit of pink, you’re going to end up with a pink house.”   

    Jane Ganz, president of Directions in Design, agrees that choosing colors is an art. “It’s the funniest thing that something so small would be so difficult!” In addition to the time of day, Ganz explains that other factors also must be considered, further complicating the color selection process. “You should hold color choices up to doorways and see how they look with adjoining rooms. And light bulbs make an enormous difference! Colors that are perfect and true under traditional incandescent lights will not look their best illuminated with fluorescent bulbs.”

    It might be tempting to buy furniture right away for your new space, but Ganz suggests caution. “Scale and proportion are very important! A piece of furniture might fit a room, but not be the right scale for the space or with your other pieces. And if you’re buying furniture for upstairs or a lower level, make sure it can fit down the hall, around the corners, and past the header of the stairs.”

    A bit of creative reworking can give your current furniture and accessories new life in their new home. “Use existing pieces in unexpected ways,” Ganz suggests. “It’s good to have a pro come in and take a look with fresh eyes, because maybe you’ve looked at a piece for 20 years and can’t visualize it in any other room. Re-upholstering can totally change the style and the look of a sofa—not just the fabric. You can change the arms, go from skirted to legs, or even convert a sofa from a two-seater to a three-seater by changing the size of the cushion.”

    And when all those decisions threaten to overwhelm, don’t forget about that massage. LN