Have you ever moved into a new house with little to no furniture and felt the stress of trying to decorate it? I have. And I made a lot of really poor decisions in an attempt to just get the rooms filled.
Then our furnace went out.
And it was the best thing that could have happened.
All our splurge money went to replace the furnace which forced me put the brakes on the purchasing. Looking back that was much needed time to s-l-o-w down and really figure out what I really wanted and begin to define my style. I also started soaking up anything I could about interior design. (Honestly, it was the beginning stages of my blog and business:)
At the time I was cursing mad but looking back I can see how it all worked out.
My client Sarah was much wiser than I was about decorating her new home. She called me a couple months before she moved in to get started on the process. Today you guys are getting the full tour of her open concept living area including dining room, living room, and a little TV nook we called the “hearth room”.
By the way, this is the most pictures I’ve ever crammed into one post.
I could have broken it up into two or three posts, but I really felt like you needed to see all three areas at once to get a feel for the space. Plus it kind of annoys me when bloggers milk one project for a ton of posts, and then you never get to see all the pictures at once.
STARTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
When I first met with Sarah, she was weeks away from moving into the new home and would be bringing very little from the current house with her. (In all these pictures, only three items were from her old home.) She felt overwhelmed by all the choices she needed to make. She knew what she liked when she saw it, but wasn’t sure how to pull everything all together.
Then she called me.
We had coffee and pastries and talked design, and all was right was the world.
Or something like that.
Actually my work with Sarah spanned a few months since we began by defining her style before we went into the design process. Sarah really wanted to make sure that the items she purchased would work for the long haul. So we started our work with a Style Guide, which is process where I use a series of picture and targeted questions to help a client really solidify their personal preferences and articulate their style.
Based on the “data” I collected from Sarah’s feedback, I created a Style Guide for her home. Once she felt good about the direction, we started looking at budget, measurements, and specific items to purchase.
DINING ROOM RUG TIP
This rug is actually an indoor/outdoor rug, but the pile is so nice you’d barely know it. Often times I use outdoor rugs in dining rooms. They clean up great and are a total life-saver if you have messy little eaters who sometimes miss the table.
The colors and the pattern of this rug were perfect for the direction we were headed. Sarah wasn’t sure if she wanted drapes, so I when I was looking for rugs I wanted one that had enough “energy” to make the space pop. Since it ended up being the only textile in the room other than the chair seats, it had to make a statement.
One of my favorite “centerpiece” ideas is to use a collection of jars and vases in the middle of the table. They’re low enough to still allow conversations without having to be cleared from the table during meal time. They can be left empty for everyday use, but you can always get fancy and add some greenery or flowers for a special occasion.
Arranging the living area was a bit tricky. With a lack of walls, furniture in an open concept room can sometimes feel like it’s just “floating” in space. I decided the best space plan was to orient the largest piece of seating with the fireplace. This meant that the chairs would also be angled.
The downside of this set up was that the first thing you saw when coming in the front door was the back of the sofa. But honestly, it was still the best route to go.
Sarah was really drawn to clean and orderly rooms during the Style Guide phase of our work. Any room with too much “fluff” just wasn’t her jam. Because of this, I took a minimal approach to styling to keep things from feeling too cluttered for her liking.
In her words, “I don’t want a bunch of stuff just for the sake of having stuff. If we don’t use it, I don’t want it around!”
I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve worked for clients that have a totally different mindset than this. While I love working on projects with lots of details in every nook and corner, my personal preference is to live in a home that has just enough decor not to feel bare. I’m a huge believer in “whitespace” and the mood it creates in a room. Some designers might have an issue not filling every wall with art or leaving windows without soft coverings (drapes, shades, or valances).
But here’s the thing…I design for the homeowner, not for myself.
Sarah wanted this room to feel crisp, clean, bright, and uncluttered. The decisions (or lack of decisions) for this space were made intentionally to help us create a space that felt like “home” to her and her family.
This is the beauty of design…each room is a unique interpretation of the client’s style that starts with inspiration and is played out in their current space . My job is to help translate what they see in their head:)
FAUX FUR LOVE
Can I just tell you how much I love this pillow? This is like the 9th time I bought a pillow like this for a project, including some for my own home.
The soft pillow…
Plus the velvety chair…
Pretty much make this seat like a furry pet who just loves you every time you sit down. Add a cozy blanket, and it’s a sensory dream.
SIMPLE MANTEL DECOR
If you have a colorful piece of artwork above your mantel, you don’t want to overwhelm it with too many bold accents. With a large piece like this one, I typically choose to pair it with neutral decor so that the focus can remain on the artwork.
In keeping with Sarah’s bright and no-fuss styling preference, I chose to fill clear hurricanes with some small white pebbles and simple pillar candles.
And I push them on anyone who lets me.
They are just a happy plant and almost seem to have a personality. (I know that sounds weird…I’m not even really a plant person.) If you’re in the market for one, I’ve got some tips for keeping a fiddle leaf fig alive and happy you can check out. Don’t let their good looks intimidate you; they’re not as high maintenance as you would imagine.
RECOVERING AN OLD PIECE
Sarah had this ottoman that had been passed down to her, but the old fabric was all wrong for the space. We searched for ages for a navy ottoman to replace it but just couldn’t find one one the right shape and size (that didn’t cost more than her sofa).
Recovering her existing ottoman ended up being the best solution. Being in such close proximity to a bold pattern on the chairs, I wanted to keep the fabric solid. The white piping helped give it just a little punch and accentuated the lines of the piece.
PS: If you ever have the choice for contrast piping, go for it. I’ve never regretted it.
Love those chairs? I know, but it gets even better…they’re swivel chairs! I think swivel chairs are worth their weight in gold sheerly for the stress they can relieve. I’m just saying after a long day, a few minutes of back and forth movement in a comfy chair can do us all some good.
All photos by: Meg White Photography
-artwork via Pier 1
-dining table (owner’s heirloom)
-rug via Ballard Designs
-white mirrored console via Home Decorators
-vases via Home Goods & Hobby Lobby
-placemats and napkins via Pier 1
-lamps via Lamps Plus
-turquoise croc tray via Pier 1
-glass knot via Home Goods
-sofa via Pottery Barn
-blue velvet chairs via West Elm
-coffee table via Pottery Barn
-side table via Birch Lane
-arc lamp via Crate & Barrel
-sofa pillows via Festive Home Decor on Etsy
-white fur pillow via Target
-rug (purchased locally)
If you find yourself “stuck” when it comes to decorating, another set of eyes on the space and some advice can help. Check out my decor coaching which is a budget-friendly DIY alternative to full design services. I’d love to help you LOVE your home:)