Design on a Dime: How to Add Oomph to a Neutral Space


Mark Addison, a top New York City event planner, is the expert on all things chic and clever and has put his good taste to use with Kelly Ripa, Antonio Banderas and Jennifer Lopez. Here, he provides tips on how to create an A-list abode without breaking the bank.

Let's face it, keeping up with the hullabaloo of life in the modern world is draining. By the end of the day, you really just need a neutral space where you can sit back, de-stress and download some relaxation time from the busy urban jungle known as life.

However, creating your personal oasis for you and your family can be a balancing act. While you want to stick with the basics, you also want to add some energy to the room to make it come alive. When looking to add this extra oomph to your room, the answer is simple: accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!

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To help dress up these neutral basics in your home and achieve high style, I am inspired by my recent work with Donna Karan's Urban Zen Foundation, which is an initiative for global well-being supported by megastars such as Richard Gere and Hollywood power couple Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. For this particular project, we designed an urban oasis to promote personal healing and relaxation in our hectic technological world — combining neutral basics with rich textures and natural elements to add the amazing energy we were looking to achieve.

Here are just a few ways you can infuse your neutrals with a taste of energizing flavor and create your personal sanctuary:

— Start with the seat of the soul — design your space around unique neutral statement pieces like the Tribeca Chair in Brownstone from JCPenney. A peaceful place to rest your mind is imperative in your Zen atmosphere.

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— Make your room a reflection of you by personalizing your space with treasures gathered from your travels, heirlooms and other collectibles. Art Display Essentials makes sleek clear acrylic stands that fit a variety of collectibles (large or small) — helping you curate your own personal museum.

— Your neutrals will find a perfect harmony through a collaboration with brushed metals such as antiqued silver and deep bronze. One of my must-have pieces to create a W-O-W wall for your space is this set of four Metallic Mirrors by studio, sold exclusively at JCPenney.

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— Preserving global cultures is yet another focus of the Urban Zen initiative. Traditional rugs get a holistic makeover with New York-based The Rug Company. These rugs are inspired by the palaces of monks in the far reaches of the Nepalese mountains and will pop perfectly against your neutrals.

— Breathe new life into your space by utilizing terrarium centerpieces. Home decor's latest must-have accessory is living decor. Hand-select a few of your favorite succulents and small-growth vines and ferns for a taste of the lush outdoors inside your home. (I personally love lady slipper orchids) One of my favorite terraniums comes from home-décor empire Roost.

By Mark Addison for For more of Mark's tips, visit his Web site.

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