Saturday, July 24, 2010
How to Decorate, Part One, for Frances who asked...
When I was a young bride in 1997 I had no idea how to decorate our small apartment. Not only did I have no idea how to do it, I had no money to do it with.
I knew that our home felt like a dorm room and that this was not a look I was interested in maintaining. I was bemoaning my lack of any decorating direction when a friend told me how to start.
She told me to go to a bookstore and grab a stack of home decorating magazines. Her advice was to look through them all and buy the ones with pictures that I liked. Right away I noticed that the pictures in magazines like Romantic Homes and Country Living were the ones I most liked.
For the next few months I bought and then ripped apart every decorating magazine that had pictures I liked. I pulled pictures for their colors, their textures, and most importantly, their moods. After a while certain themes emerged.
The colors yellow, green and red were the colors which appeared most often. Glossy white woodwork, gleaming hardwood floors, cozy spaces and light all created a warm and inviting feel which I just loved. The rooms looked lived in and loved and had a vintage cottage style that was exactly what I wanted.
Once you know what you like, the fun begins.
First, take a look around your house. Does it look like your fantasy house? Are there things you hate, but you have because they were a gift or worked great in your last house or just got put there and now you don't remember why?
Take out the things you hate. Put them in the garage or the basement, but just get them the hell out of there while you are trying to figure it out. It will be so nice to not have to look at things you hate. Don't get rid of them yet because they may still have a use, but for now, get them out of there.
Once your rooms are empty of the ugly get a pad of paper. This will be your home notebook. Sit in the room which you are working on and brainstorm. Imagine different colors. Ask yourself what already works in the house and what needs to be filled in. If the couch is great but you hate the color, consider a slipcover. Throw pillows are a great way to test different colors. Another option is to go to a fabric store and get some swatches of fabric in the colors you love. Lay them around the furniture. See what inspires you.
Write your ideas in your notebook. It breaks down the room into manageable pieces and will hopefully keep you from being overwhelmed.
Paint is your friend. Paint is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to completely change your home. Thinking you need a change? Go to the Home Depot and fill your purse with paint swatches. Then take them home and tape them to the walls. See how they look in the light of your home.
Once you think you've found a color you like pick up a quart of your color. Paint a few spots on the wall. Paint it in the middle. Paint against the moldings.
Some colors I knew immediately were my one true love. Other colors seemed like my one true love for about an hour until I got about half a wall painted and then, well, it became obvious that the color which had seemed perfect over a one foot swatch was Entirely Wrong over an entire wall.
In decorating, mistakes are made and it is part of the process.
The single most important thing about decorating your home is this. No one needs to love it except for you and your family. It doesn't need to be magazine perfect or reflect the latest trends. It just has to be the place that reflects you and the people you love.
Part Two coming soon...