Trust your instincts, and don't be dazzled by those home shows

Geoff Martin and Lars Jensen often wonder who built their house. With odd door and window sizes and a seemingly piecemeal approach, 'You wonder, 'What were they thinking?' ' Martin says.

However, neither Martin nor Jensen would be happy with a cookie-cutter home. Both men embrace opportunities to make their place distinctive.

'It's still mostly a Craftsman bungalow style house, but I guess we've given it an eclectic, personal twist,' Jensen says. 'There are so many styles to draw from. Why be a slave to one?'

When people try to copy a look from a cable show, 'dream' home or glossy magazine, the end result may be attractive, 'but it can be devoid of any personal style,' says Martin, who works as a salesman in the design and wallpaper department at Miller Paint & Wallpaper in Southeast Portland.

Martin says people often visit his store with paint chips, pillows, fabric or tile in hand, seeking help in selecting a color. More often than not, he says, when he offers his take, the response is, ' 'Oh, that's the one I liked!' Everyone gives the poor victim their opinion, and all they need is someone to say, 'Your feeling or idea is on the right track.' '

Martin says magazines and home shows telling the masses what is attractive or acceptable cause people to become apprehensive. In the face of those messages, he urges others: 'Go with your own feelings, backed up by someone you trust. You're going to be so much more satisfied in the long run. Don't be afraid to make a blunder.'

Even when mistakes are made, it's not the end of the world.

'If you miss the mark initially, you can usually adapt or adjust,' Martin says.

Using himself as an example, Martin recalls when he selected a bold, orange-tinged tone for the walls of his home's front room. After the paint went up, 'The (walls) were the color of circus peanuts. É I can't understand why anyone would eat those.' Replicating the color of the mysterious, marshmallowy treat was definitely not what Martin had in mind. However, applying a glaze atop the paint transformed the look into a lovely apricot color.

The home-decorating bottom line is 'simply learn to trust yourself and do what pleases you,' Martin says. 'Use your imagination and have some fun. Use things that you really love, something that says, 'This is our home.' That time when it's full of family and friends and they enjoy what you've done and you enjoy them enjoying it, that's what one should work for.'

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