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Q&A: Quick Change Artist

Janie Molster on how to make your room look better right now.

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Richmond designer Janie Molster is a mother of five with a busy life, a thriving business and this philosophy: "You should not wait for tomorrow to have the things you want. You should just figure out a way to merge practicality and good design."

During the launch party for her new Web site, www.janiemolster.com in October, we pulled Molster aside to ask for a few tips.

Home Style: What's one thing that someone can do to instantly improve the look of a room?

Molster The most important thing is to edit your room. And people are often really good at this if they've been away on vacation for a week, or on a trip. They come back into their house and they look at it with a fresh face. If you can do that in your own house and see that wedding present that you never liked and is still sitting there, the group of photographs that you intended to swap out the frames. Walk through your house, and if you don't love it, and if it doesn't mean something to you, and if it isn't beautiful to you, and if it doesn't have a purpose — take it out of your room.

What's the next thing?I would say it's better to have a few good things in a room than just to fill your space. There's nothing wrong with having negative space, an empty space. If you have something beautiful — a piece of artwork, or a beautiful lamp or sculpture — then the negative space makes that thing pop and stand out. No need to fill every corner.

Not everyone, let's face it, can afford an interior decorator or top-notch furniture. They want something that's stylish, but they want something that has lasting quality.

I think you can do that. I think there are fabulous retailers out there now, mass-marketed retailers — I walk through Target, I shop at IKEA. At the big-time furnishings retailers, I find things all the time that I would put in my own home.

Certain things, like quality upholstered furniture, I think you can be penny-wise and pound-foolish. You want to invest in a piece that's worth reupholstering in seven or eight years, worth buying additional fabric. I think you buy good-quality upholstery. Even if you can't afford a fine piece of art, buy a signed photograph. You don't have to go buy posters at the poster shop.

Let's say you have enough money to splurge on one item in a room. What should that item be?

Well, for me, it would be a comfortable place to sit. You've worked all day ... you come home, and there needs to be a good place to sit and relax. ... That's my priority. After that, a good light for beside that comfortable seat. And then, get something pretty to look at. HS

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