Design tips from Mr. Perault

''A complete allover redo is a very expensive project these days, labor and materials costs being what they are,'' says Edward Perrault. ''Many of my clients used to think in terms of completely redecorating about every 10 years. But now, if people are living with a scheme that they love and enjoy, I tell them how to refurbish, refresh, and update it. It's a matter of maintenance which, when done carefully, you can do without getting the original scheme too far out of tune.

''Tackle just one or two things at a time, Mr. Perrault tells people. For instance, put new color or texture on the walls of a room, making sure that the new color is not disruptive to the overall look.

''Have a worn chair or sofa reupholstered, but make sure that the fabric you choose keeps the piece in character with the original decorating scheme.

''If you want to make a distinctive addition, locate a beautiful ornamental mirror, perhaps covered with gold leaf or given an antiqued finish, and place it in just the right place to reflect beautiful objects and the play of light.

''To get a different kind of lift for a well-established room, Mr. Perrault sometimes adds a new area rug - a choice Oriental or a modern custom-woven rug.

''If you cannot resist collecting, replace a few accessories or works of art each year with even better pieces. That way, he says, you are gradually refining and upgrading your possessions but not adding more density and clutter.''

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