How many times have you walked into a room in your house and said, “I need to change this!” or “I should change this paint.” and my personal favorite, “This place is a disaster!”? For most of us these ideas are discouraged by one, or all, of the following:
- “Not right now, I have a million other things to do.”
- “I don’t even know where or how to begin.”
- “I really don’t have the money right now.”
- “Maybe, I’ll make a weekend project out of it.”
The truth is we all want our homes to be inviting and warm. Not just for the occasional guest or a visit from the in-laws but for ourselves and our families as well. For those adventurous sorts that do get around to tackling a home decorating project successfully, kudos to you! It really does take conviction to create change. If this is you, STOP reading. This article is NOT for you!
For the rest of you I think you will find yourselves in one of three categories, The Initiator, The Hopeful or The Forlorn.
The Initiator is the one that commits to change. You grab the bull by the horns, or more accurately, the purse by the straps. You head to the nearest design center or paint store with a goal in mind. You have either decided what wall/room it is you want to paint or you know what in the room you intend to change, be it furnishing or accessories. Now listen closely to what I am about to say, if in fact, you are an Initiator. You have fallen short of the goal at this point. You failed before you even got into your car. This is why when you return home from your shopping frenzy the “make-over” never seems to last long or it doesn’t have the impact you were hoping for. Here’s the “why” of it all. However well intentioned your vision of change was, you were lacking clear guidelines. This is not your fault, stop beating yourself up! It takes a rare individual to understand the process to good interior decorating. But don’t fret my pet; I am here to teach you! Let me first comment on our next personality.
The Hopeful. Generally this sort doesn’t really have any clear direction on what they are going to do, but they are certain they will know what it is they are searching for when they see it. Unfortunately, the inspiration quickly turns to frustration, am I right? Let me paint you a picture of your decorating disaster. So, you decide to brave your design challenge. (Let’s say you’ve committed to sprucing up the family room.) You head out the door, knowing full well how many mistakes you’ve made in the past all while throwing good money after bad. You have probably even relegated yourself to shopping only at the discount retailers so as to avoid the guilt of what you would have spent on yet another purchase “mistake”. You find yourself aimlessly strolling the aisles; you pick up something you like, a new set of throw pillows for the sofa, an adorable chatski for the mantle or maybe a great piece of wall art. Then you think…does this match anything? Where will I put it? Do I really need this? Or possibly you consider yourself lucky to have found something you like.
Regardless of your decision you ultimately failed your mission. Although you may have purchased something fabulous, it doesn’t fit. Here’s why, you lack an overall design style. You don’t really know what your style is, probably you consider yourself “eclectic” in style for this exact reason. But that may not be true. Your mission, declare a style and stick to it until the room is complete. Stop jumping around from space to space only adding small touches. Start in one room and for God’s sake, finish that room before you tackle another one!
Rounding out the design personalities is our final competitor, The Forlorn. You poor, lost and confused souls. Let me simply summarize this type by stating you can’t be good at everything. You have probably already convinced yourself of this very fact. Here are few things you have told yourself about decorating, “I don’t know what I like, but I know what I don’t.”, “So what if it doesn’t all match, I like my things!”, or finally you tell yourself and others, “I have no idea how to do all that decorating stuff!” The truth is you DO want your home to be welcoming, you DO wish you had the talent to create good design, and you ARE willing to ask for help! All of which will allow me bring out that designer in you, with a lot of guidance of course!
Regardless of your design personality, all design MUST start with a style. Ah, hold on, wait for it….YES, you do have a style! And there are simple ways to determine yours. Start is magazines. Flip through the pictures and tear out what appeals to you. It doesn’t even have to be an entire look. It may just be a table, a piece of art or the window treatments. Whatever it is, grab it! Circle it! And start your style file with it! Once you have accumulated a minimum of 10-20 pictures, you are ready to declare your style! If you are having difficulty accessing what the style is, no worries, help is out there. Take your file to a good furniture store offering free interior design assistance. Let them figure it out for you. Or better yet share it with me! Easy peasy right?
Like everything, design is a form of evolution. You don’t start with the accessories and finish with the paint. Good design is a process not an event. If you intend to create ambiance and flow in your home it takes dedication and time. Let me repeat myself….IT TAKES TIME! That being said, let’s get moving!
The first crucial step after determining your style is to access your space. How does your current design reflect your “true” style? Do the colors compliment this look? Does anything in your home resemble anything about your style? Whether you know it or not, you have probably already accumulated numerous things that share your look. Keep what works and ditch the rest. Or at least make a plan to begin replacing the items that don’t belong.
Next choose a color palette that both compliments the pieces you intend to keep and more importantly mimics your new look! I would recommend beginning with at least three colors. The first should be your main wall color. The next will be your trim color. For non-experts an easy way to find the trim color is go two shades lighter than your main wall color. And finally choose an accent color. How do these colors work together? Does your accent color hold true to a piece of art you intend on keeping? Does it bring out the subtle hues in your fabrics? Make sure the accent color reflects at least two other properties in the room. Are you still with me? If you are not working with a professional, please utilize this acronym when choosing your paint…..K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple). By that, I mean, don’t choose outlandish, bold or garish colors. Keep it mellow. Everything works against neutrals. We are attempting to create flow and bring cohesion between rooms that are open to each other. A bold accent color if not used properly will distract the eye not enhance the room! Now take your color swatches (you did get color swatches right?) and put them in your ever expanding style file!
Once your color scheme has been determined you finally get to move on to the fun stuff!
Earlier I mentioned that design is an evolution. You begin with a style. Next you move on to the large items that really announce and ground that style. The sofa, the table, etc. At this stage you might also begin considering the focal point in the room. Everything should enhance this feature. A fireplace is the most common element in a family room. NOT THE T.V., sorry guys! Moving on you can now choose your paint, which should compliment something within the environment; I tend to use fabrics as a guide! Next are the soft elements, the window treatments and area rugs. And finally rounding out the show is the accessories! I can’t tell you how many times, clients try to create a room starting with accessories. Probably because they are the frill, the fun and the exciting! But none of those great finds will look right if they come before the finding the right piece to showcase it! Make sense?
Hopefully I have given you inspiration to begin! If you get stuck, let me know! Shoot me a quick email outlining your dilemma; send me a picture if you are confused. If you are not sure about selecting a piece JUST ASK! The blessing of cell phones is this, when you are out shopping and unsure about purchasing something, take a picture and send it to me. This first article should give you a general overview of the “how-to’s” of decorating. In my following article I will delve more into the specific elements. Like space planning, furniture lay-out, lighting and so on. So stick with me and I promise…we will create something beautiful together! Now get going already!