Home Improvement: your style and concept

by Dana on August 16, 2010

Last month I shared Lucy’s room Make-over with you. It was a fun project and tons of work. But seeing the finished product was definitely the big pay-off.

My previous blog posts were all about paint. So now, let’s talk about design and decorating!
Over the next few weeks I hope to share a series of posts, with design ideas and home improvement tips. Disclaimer: I’m no expert here! But I always learn something new when I hear it from another’s perspective. So here we go. Let’s start at the beginning:

Designing and Conceptualizing a Room

Improving your home with small or huge projects is exciting. But the task can feel overwhelming. And often the stress is simply because you can’t figure out where to start or what your style/concept is for the room. Don’t worry, you’re not alone here. Some rooms in our house are still empty because I haven’t figured out a starting point.

So, if you have a blank slate like Lucy’s old room……
What do you do?

Here are some tips to get you started:
(each point discussed in detail below)

* Figure out what sort of room you enjoy.
* Find images that inspire you.
* Create a Focal Point for the room.
* Paint is Cheap, so go for it!
* Browse your favorite stores for decor inspiration.
* Use darker shades of your paint colors for accenting the room.
* Buy and Return

1. What sort of room do enjoy? It’s taken me a while to figure out what my own style is. And just when I think I’ve got it, it morphs into something else! But when I think about the type of room or house I would love to live and relax in….it’s a traditional-modern beach home. It has old 1940s charm and moldings, with modern art and simplicity. There are soothing colors with bright pops. Hmm. I want to be there now.
If you’re not sure how to describe or label your own style, try taking a style quiz. You’ll find a few here, here, here, and here.

2. Find images that inspire you. Now that you’ve thought about your favorite type of room or house, try to find photos to help you visual it. If you still can’t figure out what type of room you enjoy this step will really help. For Lucy’s room I did a Google image search with phrases like, “room with stripes” or “beach room and stripes” or “modern beach house”. A variety of images and blogs surfaced and I just kept clicking around to find more and more inspiration (while ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over the lovely pictures)

Here are some photos that inspired me…..
(I honestly can’t remember where they all came from but some are from A Room Somewhere)

Rooms with a modern Beach vibe:
Rooms with stripes:
How cool is this ceiling? Maybe one day I’ll be so bold.
Rooms with bright color pops:

3. Start with a focal point for the room.
This is often pivotal for me. When looking at a big empty white room, it almost seems scary to start because I don’t want to “mess up” or go in the wrong direction. Of course this is silly thinking. You’ll never have a designed house if you don’t start at all! So look for a big accent piece for the room to give you a starting point. Is there a couch you love? A bright piece of artwork you NEED to have? A color shade you’ve been wanting to try? Pick one of those big items to give a focal point to the room and help you find a starting point for your decorating.

In our kitchen, the paint tones are muted yellow and gray. I wanted to spice it up, so I dove in and made the Orange Oilcloth slip covers for our bar stools. And it was just the accent piece I needed! Now I’ve been adding orange pieces throughout our kitchen and front room and the house is tying together nicely. An accent piece doesn’t need to be bright; mostly it’s eye-catching or the central point of the room.
For Lucy’s room make-over, the focal point was actually the paint itself. The vendor was paying me to try out their product, so I wanted to do something unexpected instead of “here’s an yellow room.” So after finding my inspiration photos, I knew that stripes were a must. But a room full of stripes would be too much. One accent wall was plenty. Lucy’s favorite color is yellow, so I threw that in the mix. And on the left wall, I wanted to give an outdoor market/french bistro vibe so I went with a sky-blue hue.
4. PAINT IS CHEAP!!! So when you’re feeling a color, just go for it. If you paint a room and you hate it, just paint it again! Our first year of marriage, I painted our bedroom a funky lime green (accented with chocolate brown furniture). I had this image in my head and it was going to be totally cool. My husband wondered what I was doing when he saw the paint can. I told him to trust (which he normally does). But when the painting was done, I hated it. It was way too bright. My kind husband just smiled and drove me to Home Depot for a watered-down shade. $30 bucks down the drain. No biggie.

5. Wander your favorite stores for decor inspiration. Whether it’s Target, Ikea, Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters, or Design within Reach…..browse around and see what’s on the market.

Once I had painted Lucy’s room, I wasn’t sure where to go next. I wanted some bright pieces here and there. But what? So, I went to IKEA and things started jumping off the shelf to me. I first spotted the reddish-orange duvet cover and used that as another accent piece. This gave me a jumping off point to use the color red throughout the room. I added the color with flowers, furniture, and artwork.
6. Use darker shades of the wall paint colors to accent the room. This one took me some me time to figure out. I used to think “I just painted the walls with pastels, now the room needs to be decorated in pastels”. WRONG! In fact, if you use a pale turquoise on the wall, it’s pleasing to use a much darker shade of that somewhere else in the room. You know all those color shades that come on a paint swatch together? They’re there for a reason! They’re all part of the same family and can be used together.

Lucy’s wall’s were a pale blue and yellow color and so I added bright yellow with a mirror, pillow, and flowers. I used bright turquoise in the chairs, the dresser, and the pillow on the bed. 7. Buy and Return. I’m sure retailers would hate this point. But sometimes it’s hard to see how things look in the room until they’re actually IN the room. I purchased tons of decor items from IKEA, took them home, and figured out which items worked in the room and which really needed to be morph into something else. Then I returned the rest of the un-used items and headed to another store for new decor. This way of decorating really helped the room come together.

And…..that’s it for today!
Decorating is fun and shouldn’t feel overwhelming. You just need to start somewhere and then dive in. Remember, you don’t have to do it all in one day, or even one month. Maybe you’ve got a project you’re already scheming over? Can’t wait to hear about it!

Stay tuned later this week and we’ll talk about artwork….

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Kari June 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Is the blue in Lucy’s room the same as your living room?

I liked that you mentioned using the colos from the paint chip together. I got a dark gray that isn’t a good color for where I planned it, but now I may use it for accents in another room that was painted with a lighter color from the same chip.

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