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Forgotten stuff can freshen rooms

Interior designer Jane Xiques redesigns people's living areas using only items they already own.

By JACKIE RIPLEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 18, 2003

COUNTRYWAY -- Jane Xiques takes three brass birds from one wall, attaches them to the opposite wall and then casts about for the next treasure for transplant.

She takes a bamboo tray from the kitchen and fills it with moss, stones and an orchid before placing it on a coffee table in front of the sofa.
[Times photos:Mike Pease]
Jane Xiques adds new elements to a coffee table at the home of Mary and Bill Christie in Countryway.

"This is when you go shopping around the house," says Xiques (pronounced HICK-us), rifling through a collection of glass vases, dried flowers and crystal knickknacks spread across Bill and Mary Christie's dining room table.

"People have wonderful things in their homes, their guest room, their living room, family room. They put things away and forget about them."

That's the principle behind Rooms for Change by Jane, which represents Xiques' recent foray into the field of home redesign. Sometimes known as interior redesigners, interior arrangers, interior stylists or one-day decorators, designers such as Xiques charge a flat fee to remake a living area, using the furniture and accessories you already have. Xiques charges $300 to remake one room.

"We pick up where interior design leaves off," says Xiques, who is certified by the Dallas-based Interior Arrangement and Design Association. "We take things that have been in the same place for 10 years and move them. The homeowner comes home and says, 'Oh my gosh.' "

The Christies, who sell real estate and have lived in their Countryway home for seven years, hired Xiques to rearrange their living room.

On the morning of the redesign they left for work as usual, leaving Xiques and her associate DiDi Marinake to do their thing.

During a walk-through Xiques already had made note of two beige leather sofas that flanked a wide screen TV and fireplace, a black lacquer dining room table with eight chairs, and a black leather lounger.

It's during the walk-through that Xiques encourages clients to speak up if anything is sacrosanct, such as the black leather lounger.

"We think of it almost like an architectural element," Xiques says, patting the back of the high, padded head rest. "We don't move it."

The day of the make-over

It's 10:30 in the morning and Xiques and Marinake get down to work. The air-conditioner is cranked down low, jazzy music plays on the stereo. An assortment of curios and knickknacks are spread out on table tops for future consideration.
This is the view of the Christies' living room before the make-over.

Their first job is to take down the artificial greenery and books that line a high plant shelf running the length of the room. Xiques then replaces some of the greenery and surrounds it with artfully stacked books, topped by vases and ginger jars.

They next make quick work of the sofas, pulling them away from the walls and placing them at an angle. A favorite oil painting retains its spot over the fireplace, but is moved slightly to the left and lowered. The lounger stays where it is -- well, almost. It is angled slightly, but kept within eye range of the television.

"I threw away my membership to the gym," says Xiques, moving the sofa one last time before being satisfied with its relationship to the room's focal point, a black Oriental-style painting. "Once the furniture gets placed, things start to flow.

Next the pair take a green rectangular rug out of the kitchen and put it underneath the coffee table to bring color to a room dominated by beige sofas and neutral-colored wall-to-wall carpeting. A pole lamp is placed in front of a painting for highlighting. Books, vases and candles are grouped together for accents.

Post make-over

"I'm thrilled," Mary Christie says later. "It's so comfortable, so cozy. When I woke up this morning it was like stepping into a new house."
This is the view after the make-over. Xiques, the interior redesigner, rearranged the couches, rugs, throws and knickknacks, among other items.

Christie said she especially liked the flowers, candles and fresh fruit on the table.

"I don't have a creative eye at all," she says. "I knew she could figure it out differently."

Xiques sees her role as bringing a fresh pair of eyes to a room. Often, she says, she is hired to rearrange one space and then asked to come back and take care of the remaining rooms.

"Things keep turning out," Xiques says. "People keep calling me back."

-- Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 268-5308 or


Jane Xiques can be reached at (813) 431-2851.

For more information about home redesign or to find a certified redesigner or visual coordinator, visit these Web sites:, the Interior Refiners Network., the Interior Arrangement and Design Association., the Interior Redesign Industry Specialists.

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