Monday, July 20, 2009

Decorating Delight! (Totally off the subject)

I like decorating. It's fun for me. I think I come by it honestly-- my mom always seemed to enjoy it and have a knack for it. Every once in a while, I'll have conversations with friends about it and they'll say something like, "I can't do it like you can..." Somebody else commented on it again this weekend. That statement is untrue. I think anybody can arrange their stuff so it looks good. It just takes a little thought and practice. I feel like I can't do it all that well, or as good as I want to, but I have picked up a few tips over the years that have seemed to work, for me at least.

So let's take a break from the usual and talk about decorating for a bit. :) Yay! Here are a few things that seem to have worked for me...

1) Don't think to have nice stuff that you have to spend a fortune. The converse is also true. Don't think that just because it's not expensive, that it's not good stuff. Case and point. I have TWO pieces of furniture in this entire house that I bought first-hand outright. The rest are hand-me-downs or good finds in antique stores, thrift stores (yes), outlets, online, etc. I don't buy it unless it's a good deal. Period. Ever.

2) As a rule, stay away from the bulk of the inventory at chain furniture stores. Obviously, their inventory represents what most Americans buy to put in their living rooms, but if you're wanting to do something that looks cute in your house, you're gonna need to deviate from the beaten path. This means staying away from stuff that looks like it could fit nicely into your elementary piano teacher's decor. This means solid, bland neutral colors. Basically anything you look at and go, eh, it looks like everything else in here, you need to walk away from. You need 1) colors or 2) patterns or 3) something architecturally distinctive, like interesting wood work or something that's a fun shape. If you conquer this, you've conquered half the battle.

3) Don't be afraid to check out the "back rooms" or "as is" sections at those big chain stores. Sometimes they have some unique stuff that somehow got busted coming off the truck. Once I got a huge overstuffed blue/green plaid chair for $200 because a tiny little piece of the piping was fraying on an arm. A little fabric glue fixed that right up and the chair has lasted a good seven years of pretty heavy use. And I got it for a $300 discount.

4) Once you get your furniture home, just move it all around until it feels good to you. It helps if you have someone else there to help. :) Think about your objectives for the room. Do you entertain? What do you want the "feel" of the room to be? Think about all those things while you're putting things in place. And if one arrangement doesn't work or feel right, try something else.

5) Let's address paint colors. I personally don't enjoy painting at all. But I really enjoy the finished project. So we muddle through. :) The best advice I can give is to look at lots and lots of pictures. Browse through magazines at the grocery store and stores like Lowes and Home Depot. See what colors catch your eye. Copying is not a sin. In fact, it's probably your best bet to getting a good finished product. Do research. For sure, don't just go stand in front of the paint swatch wall and squeal and say OOH! Bright PURPLE! Pretty!! Your favorite color may not look great slathered onto a wall. Darker colors will make your room more enclosed and are generally good for big rooms and high ceilings. Light colors open a space up. For common gathering areas, it's a safe bet to stay in the neutral color families. So there it is. Get a picture. Copy it.

6) Probably the most valuable advice my mom ever gave me was about hanging stuff on the walls. You'd be amazed at the difference it makes. First, evaluate the size of your wall. If you've got big walls/high ceilings, don't hang small or even average size pictures on them. If you've got a big space, you need BIG pictures. There are cheap ways to do this. Try buying your favorite print on sale at Hobby Lobby, then buying an ugly one that is both the right size and massively on sale at a place like Garden Ridge, and replace the ugly print with your fave and use it for the frame. If you're willing to spend a little bit more, Hobby Lobby has 50% off framing sales periodically and you can get a poster size print framed for about a hundred bucks. Another very common mistake people make is hanging their pictures too high. As a rule, pictures always need to be right at eye level. No higher. Don't just slap one up in the empty space at the top of the wall just because it's empty. Eye level, people. After all, pictures are for viewing. Makes sense, right? Also, never just hang one picture up on a wall all by it's lonesome. Group your big pictures with smaller ones or wall sconces. And don't group a thousand tiny pictures together on one wall. Variation is the name of the game.

7) Last thing, I promise. On random decor: grouping will save the day. As a general rule, things just look odd standing alone. So try to group things in threes or in some sort of order when putting decorative items out on a shelf/table/mantle, etc. Also symmetricality is nice if you can manage it. Ascending/descending order of height, etc. will look very nice. Display a picture frame on a stack of books with pretty spines. It'll add interest. Just think of your decorative pieces as playing a role. What fits in this space? Does it need a partner to compliment it? Try as many things as you can til something feels right.

And this is probably one of the longest blogs I've ever written. :) I by NO MEANS have all the answers. But I think that everybody's capable of doing fun things with the stuff they have, or getting cute stuff for a good price and then doing fun stuff with that. :) These are a few things that have worked for me. And still, if it all just wears you out and you still feel like you can't do it, who cares. Stock the bar, have a few friends over, enjoy life. Do what's fun for you!

And that is all.

(NOTE: In reading back through this post I realize I've completely neglected the subject of window coverings. Easy: 1) fabric outlet 2) sewing machine (maybe. I've gotten away without sewing before.) Oh and also. Don't use black. Black curtains 100% of the time say "a bachelor decorated this room". :) Ha!)


RyinNotRyan said...

Bachelor or not the black curtains in my bedroom say, "I'm hungover and I don't need your silly light this early in my day, thank you!"

... and I don't know nothin' 'bout no fabric stores and what-have-yous ;)

Ashly said...

Well, you're a bachelor. You're allowed. :) But since you technically HAVE been to a fabric outlet, I expected more!! :) Hahaha!

tomorrowsmemoriesphotography said...

nicely written!
GREAT advice girlie!

JW said...

I love the ideas about "back rooms" or "as is" sections at big chain stores. I never even thought to look there or knew that even existed. I've got a few more ideas here on my blog about a Budget DIY Room Makeover.