Solutions: When updating, form follows function

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

If your home feels a bit dated, there’s a basic guideline to follow when contemplating a makeover of any kind. While design trends tend to come and go, Amanda Preston, marketing manager for IKEA in Canton, says form follows function every time.

For instance, she says customers often ask how to make their kitchen look beautiful, but that’s the easy part. “There are so many different cabinets and countertops,” says Preston, who stresses what you should concentrate on is the inner workings of these features that will suit your lifestyle needs.

“You can have this big beautiful kitchen with smart organizational solutions inside,” she says.

It all comes down to what you want from your home. “If your recycling is all over the place, you might want an under-counter cabinet drawer with three bins,” says Preston.

For an avid cook, it could be drawers that are deep enough for pans. “They let you stand above them instead of getting down on your hands and knees and looking in the back of the cabinet,” she says.

“Your choices should fit your life and your lifestyle,” adds Preston.

Spacious pantries are another possibility, like a wall cabinet that’s deep enough for big platters when your regular cabinets are too shallow.

Modern bathrooms offer added storage as well, like the IKEA cabinets that have drawers beneath the sink where there was once wasted space. In this case, the plumbing has been adjusted to make room for the drawers.

“That way you’re not looking down in the bottom cabinet,” she says. “Even kids can open the drawers.”

Spare bedrooms are also becoming more efficient. “The trend we’re seeing is that people are looking for a multifunctional space instead of a dedicated office or guest room. They’re looking to get more out of that one space,” says Preston.

They might choose a lightweight coffee table that doubles as a nightstand when you pull out the sleeper sofa for an overnight guest.

Today’s family rooms often serve more than one purpose, too. “People want a space for kids to do homework and a place for adults to sit and talk,” she says.

Some prefer a focal point other than a TV like an arts and crafts station or a dining table and chairs for casual meals.

Even entryways are getting in on the practical act as a drop-off spot for everyday items. The Hemnes shoe cabinet (that must be attached to the wall) features a slim profile and a ledge for smaller belongings like keys.

“It helps you get into a routine every day and keep the foyer nice and neat and uncluttered,” says Preston. “You know where to find everything the next day and it makes it easy to get out the door.”

For a quick switch, Preston says people are changing their textiles seasonally. She suggests taking a cue from Pantone’s color of the year, Greenery, which can be paired with darker shades for winter and brighter tones come summertime. “It can really change the look of your room,” she says.

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Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at