Interior Decorating 101

The first space I ever remember decorating was when I was around 8 years old.  My family had bought the house that my parents still own today.  They paid $27,500 for that house in 1971.  Not sure why I remembered that, but that number stuck in my head and has never left.  Even at that, my dad had to get my grandparents and Uncle Tim to co-sign.  Three families lived in that house for a while, until my dad could buy out his brother and then Grandpa co-signed with Uncle Tim to get the second house on the same block.  In time, our families ended up owning 5 homes on that block.  I decorated them all!  But the very first space was a sliding door closet in the downstairs den on house #1.  I can remember begging my mom to let me have it to do anything I wanted to do!  She could see the desperation mixed with excitement and creativity that was bursting from every poor of my little body.  She said "OK" and that began a passion for interior design.  

Some of the pictures in this photo gallery are before/after pictures.  Others are of one piece of furniture shown in three different houses.   Here are pictures from a 4,400 square foot home on the lake in Hendersonville, TN, to a 1,200 square foot cottage on a hill in Franklin, TN, to the downtown Nashville "tall-skinny" 2,500 square foot home we live in today.  I have loved and adored each place and have learned a lot from decorating each space.  

Some people ask me the difference in decorating vs design.  I can, and love to design spaces, however I feel my strength is defiantly decorating.  Here's the difference.  A designer usually starts with the bones.  For new construction or re-model jobs, a designer works with a contractor to decide the structural lay out and placement of every element.   A designer will choose fixtures, finishes and colors during the construction.  A designer works from the bottom up!  A decorator makes existing spaces come alive.  A decorator is brought in for staging of the final touches.  When I decorate spaces for clients, they often have a limited budget, so it's up to me to get creative!  Good decorators are good at crafting and thrifting to create the look a client wants for a budget they can afford.  I am famous for making something out of nothing...and nobody knows! NOBODY KNOWS!

Here are three RULES OF THOUMB for me:

  

1. If there's something in a space that you hate but can not change, either ignore it or lean into it.  For example, if the previous owner of your new home painted the living room bright yellow and you just hate it.  Ignore it and start setting up the sage, white and gray furnishing from your previous place.  Then, match one piece of art and one throw pillow to the ugly wall, and wala...it's beautiful!  

What happens to everyone, including me sometimes, is we walk into an empty space and obsess with the only thing in the room.  That becomes the thing you want to change first.  This even happens in a brand new home.  We walked in NEW CONSTRUCTION, and hated the light above where our bed would go.  It was the only thing to look at, so we wanted to change it.  We didn't change it, now, we don't want to.  

The other option is to lean into the thing you hate.  Yellow, is now your favorite!  Look at a color wheel and choose the two colors on either side of that bad yellow, or jump to the opposite side of the color wheel and run with that!  Then, go to every thrift store and home décor store in town to find accessories in that color.  If you can't find anything good, buy you some spray paint in that color and get to crafting!  Once that color is seen in 3-D around the room, your eye will internalize it and you become comfortable with it as a result.

If the thing you can not change is a window or door...and you don't want to use it or see it, then find a large bamboo shade curtain and cover it up!  Go as high to the ceiling as you can, then trim the access from the bottom.  There are several examples of that in my gallery.

 

2. When choosing a theme for your space,  make a story board.  Pull pictures from every source to determine what you love.  Inevitably, you will have to also use what you have.  My suggestion is to pick a decade/style or a color.  A decade/style theme is specific and you will need to follow it through to the smallest details.  Study pictures and pay attention to everything.  In this space, the style is more important than color.  As long as that mid-century modern vibe, for example, is referenced thought the space, you can relax on the colors. 

 

If color is your unifying element, you will be open to use furnishing from any decade or style esthetic. For example, a monochromatic pallet such as cream, or pink or black & white, you need to be very disciplined and stick to it!  The creamy beige will work with white and tan, but keep the main thing the main thing.  Any fabric, and decade will still work.  Just keep the color and tone consistent thought the space.  

 

3. The last bit of FREE advice I will give you, is stand in the doorway of the room or area you're working with.  Do it first and often.  Doing it first, you need to decide where your focal point will be.  So, as if walking in your room and seeing it for the first time, where do you want someone's eyes to go. You have to tell the eyes where to go! If there isn't a focal point established, a person will float around the room with nothing to ground them.  Your eyes want to grab something in order to feel safe and welcomed in a room as a first time visitor.  Once you've lived with an undefined space for a while, you don't notice it.  That is why you have to pretend to be someone else.  Decide what wall your largest piece of art will hang on, or what one wall you will pain?  This focal wall should be easily identified as soon as you get to the door.  Usually, it's straight ahead, not around the corner.  Remember, this person is looking for an anchor.  People are wanting to compliment you as well, so give them a wow factor right away.  Go back and stand there often, checking your work.  

Turn off the overhead lights as soon as possible.  Lamps are much easier on the eyes, and warm up the space.  Remember to use at lease two lamps in a room.  Balance and duplicates are esthetically pleasing to the eyes too, so study the professional pictures with that in mind.  Books, boxes and other stackable objects are very important too as the eye needs to travel around the room in a wave pattern.  Sudden drops in the flow are not recommended. Tell the eyes where to look  If you hate the floor, make sure you have art on the walls and beautiful tall floor plants pointing up!  If you hate the ceiling, go buy a fabulous rug and stack pillows low in large baskets on the floor.  Tell the eyes where to go.

If you want a personal consultation, via facetime or in person, let me know.