key strategies for decorating: THE 1-2-3-4-5 OF DECORATING ANY SPACE
Bringing back our home line is re-opening the door into a life-long obsession with decorating. In today’s post, you’ll find five easy to follow strategies for decorating regardless of what style you love. These are takeaways from years of trial and error that will provide you with a roadmap for tackling any space.
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a Quick background
You might have been like me, it all began in early childhood. Decorating Barbie’s house and the Star Traveler Motorhome in the 1970’s. Then it moved along to re-arranging bedrooms on almost a monthly basis. No surprise, when it came to home ownership that I LOVE renovations and re-envisioning each space for unfathomable hours. Clearly an obsession.
It was fueled by my mother and father, who also loved architecture and decorating. My dad was a civil engineer who took a lot of architecture classes. He would bring home hand drawn blueprints regularly on how to renovate our home in the village of Skaneateles, NY until one day we finally did start a renovation process that would go on for over nine years.
Traveling also provided opportunities for developing an appreciation for all styles of architecture. When we would travel to Montreal to visit family, the favorite part for me was driving around looking at the old and glorious homes. My parents would point out elements to take note of as they planted seeds in my head.
Eventually, I became a Realtor and humbly, I did very well. My specialty was helping my clients envision how they could transform a space that didn’t quite have their look and feel. Those days are now past me BUT what remains is a shortcut for showing how to decorate any space in any style that everyone can employ in their own home.
Along the way, I’m highlighting some pillows that I made for my daughter’s new apartment. She is a week away from finishing her Interior Architecture degree and has an extremely popular blog, BySophieLee.com, in which she helps college-age and young adults maneuver through life.
We’ll go through these quickly and then break them down in future posts.
5 key strategies for you to use in decorating your home in any style
Strategy 1: Identify your key elements
The key elements of decorating are similar to writing a business plan or pulling together a recipe. These are the starting point that need to be identified well before you start picking colors or furniture.
- What function(s) is required of the room?
This is your objective that is the heart of your decorating plan. Regardless of how beautiful a room may be, it MUST serve a function.
- What is the focal point of the room?
Each room should have a focal point that is used to direct the attention of the design decisions. It may be a view, a piece of furniture, an architectural element, or even a TV.
- What are the sources of light?
Lighting is VITAL to the function and feel of a room. Some lighting is fixed, such as ceiling lights and natural light coming into the space. Other lighting will be added as part of the design. The fixed lighting may need to be addressed to soften or enhance its effect throughout the design process.
- What is the flow of traffic?
Your floorplan has to address the natural flow of traffic throughout a room. In some cases, the furniture can create this flow yet often it is forced upon a room by the architecture, windows, entry/exit points, and electrical system.
Strategy 2: Allow circulation
Regardless of the size of a room, it must circulate. In the same way our bodies must have a flow of blood to survive, so to does a room. As you’re considering the floorplan having already identified your key elements, draw arrows around the space to highlight where the circulation will be guided. This will allow you to breathe, think, and absorb all of your beautiful elements that you add from here.
Circulation is created at multiple levels. On the ground, it’s where people walk. The mid-space includes furniture. Eye-level is the artwork and window views. Then, finally, there’s the flow above our heads to develop a feeling of lightness and elevation, or conversely withdrawal and nesting.
Strategy 3: choose where to invest
Once you have your floor plan created using the two prior strategies, you then need to select your pieces. Take an inventory of what you have already and what you need to buy. Here’s a very simple guide to remember:
Your investment in furnishings
needs to be directly proportional
to the amount of use they’ll receive.
What does that mean? If you’re a casual family who basically lives in your family room, then buy the best quality couch you can afford for that room.
If you have a space that is only used occasionally, such as a formal dining room or guest bedroom, then you can but “cheaper” furnishings.
It’s the exact same strategy that you should use with your wardrobe. The key staples that you’ll wear over and over again, should be the highest quality you can afford. While the trendier pieces that will only see use for a bit here and there, can be farther down on the quality level. Have you ever noticed a woman shopping in Zara, Forever 21, H&M, or Aritzia who is carrying a Louis Vuitton bag? That is because the LV bag will last her a lifetime while the pieces she’s shopping for at the moment will probably only see one or two seasons.
strategy 4: Layer your elements
This is another multi-part strategy but it’s really easy to employ. First, let me point out that your home DOESN’T need to be completely decorated in the first 6 months. To create a feeling of HOME, you need to allow a lifetime to add pieces. That’s how you make it truly “YOUR” space and not just one out of a magazine (as beautiful as the magazine might be).
I recently watched a YouTube video that points this out perfectly. Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are both very well known in the design world. In this video, they show how they have built their new home in NYC by pulling from their prior furnishings and keeping sentimental pieces that are part of their history together.
Taking time may be well and good, but a certain amount of functional pieces need to be in place to use the space. This is how you can layer your decorating, implementing one bit at a time.
- Start with a neutral foundation.
This means to begin buying your essentials in a neutral palette that will work with the pieces you add over time. NOTE: you may have a more flashy piece that is your focal point. That’s fine. Let that be the focal point and add neutrals to support it.
- Add color seasonally.
Add pieces on top of your neutrals to reflect the season. That means that you buy pillow covers with zippers so you can interchange them, for example. Even your artwork can be rotated to enhance the mood that comes from the warmth of summer or the chill of a winter snowstorm.
- Add sentimental details slowly to tell your story.
As your life transpires, travels and events will naturally create a backdrop of finds that tell the story of your life. They’re not only meaningful, but they’re also talking points for entertaining and reminiscing. Don’t be afraid to buy a print or a sculpture when you travel. It’s how you personalize your space.
Strategy 5: Become a curator
Museums don’t exhibit EVERYTHING they own or borrow. They rotate pieces to maintain the interest of the people who visit.
The same strategy should be used in your home. If you’re a collector, don’t keep the ENTIRE collection on display. Pick a few of your favorites and then carefully store the rest. Then, every so often, you can pick out a couple from your collection to rotate in and out.
You can also do this with accent pieces throughout the home. Side tables, night stands, lamps, etc. can all be moved around to keep give new life to the space. it also prevents cluttering, which definitely kills tranquility.
Strategies for decorating: pulling it all together
As I mentioned, my daughter Sophie, moved into her first apartment recently. It was important for her to have a space that was pulled together in order to film for her blog and social media posts.
Being a planner, Sophie began purchasing and requesting the key pieces for her apartment almost a full year before moving in. She watched for sales and based her Christmas and birthday lists on her new apartment.
Further, she’s frugal as she is adding pieces. Here you can see the way she is creating eye level circulation using a picture wall over her sectional. She painted the canvas herself and then curated a selection of favorite photos to blow up and frame.
You’ll note the antelope fawn pillow in the lower right. Never one to miss an opportunity, she picked a pattern and I found the fabric on sale for her. I made multiple square pillow covers with gold metal exposed zippers on the back for her living room.
In the bedroom, she tied the spaces together by requesting a bolster pillow cover in the same fabric. While here in a post this may seem like a lot, yet in the space these are touches of a common accent that pulls the eye from room to room harmoniously.
Do you want custom throw pillows too?
Maybe your mom doesn’t make custom throw pillows for you but, no worries, I DO!!! If you have a request for pillows and other home accents then you found the source. In addition to the pillows featured in Sophie’s apartment, I also make hand-painted and applique pillows. Love trim? Me too! I have fringe and tassels with your name on them.
Fabrics, such as the antelope fawn print, are often in limited supply. The first dibs go to my email subscribers, so make sure you subscribe. If you haven’t yet, just fill in your name and email address below (it’s really that easy):
That’s it for today. If you have any questions or want to make a suggestion, please email me!
Have an amazing day! XOXO,