Have you ever bought something on a whim and regretted it within the first 5 minutes of bringing it home? Yep, we all have. (And if you haven’t, we really don’t want to hear about it.)
This has usually happened to me when the words “Clearance” or “Biggest Sale Ever” were involved.
Or when I was on a deadline to get my house guest-ready.
If you’re tackling several rooms at once or have recently moved, you’re even more vulnerable to the temptation to buy on a whim because empty rooms can make you do crazy things. On the other hand, it can be REALLY overwhelming trying to approach every room from scratch, and you might be frozen in what I call purchasing paralysis.
As in, “Please just pass me the chocolate and I can’t even deal with this” kind of paralysis.
Today I’m sharing a way to help you avoid some stress and resist impulse buys for your home. I’m also giving you guys a sneak peak of the beginning stages of a local project that’s wrapping up soon.
LOCAL DESIGN PROJECT: Sarah’s House
Last year, I started working with a sweet client named Sarah. She called requesting some design direction for a new house that she and her husband were in the final stages of building.They decided that most of their old furniture would not be moving into the new house with them.
An epic Craigslist sale followed.
Her main concern was making sure that all the new pieces she purchased worked well with each other and the style of the house. After chatting with Sarah about her hopes for the new home, I proposed that we start our work together with a “Style Guide”.
WHAT’S A STYLE GUIDE?
A “Style Guide” ensures that the overall design direction is firmly established before any new pieces are purchased.
This is SUCH a key piece in how I work with clients who are addressing several rooms at a time. It’s helpful for a couple reasons…
1. It’s like the “road map” for making purchases. You have a filter to run things through instead of dealing with limitless options. Saves time and money.
2. A Style Guide weaves a cohesive thread that ties the whole house together. This was especially important for Sarah since she has an open concept living, dining, and sitting room. She wanted to create flow in the main living areas that felt both calm and inviting.
After Sarah’s “homework”of questionnaires and pictorial assessments, I came up with a Style Guide that addressed her desire to keep things “fresh & airy” while still being crisp, modern, and organized.
Most of the large items have already been ordered and delivered to Sarah’s home, and we are just working on the finishing touches. While we ultimately didn’t go with every single piece on her “Style Guide”, it was our starting point and reference for all purchases throughout the selection process.
I can’t wait to show you guys the final result. I don’t have many of projects where we literally started with empty rooms. We are about 90% to the finish line. I’ll be sure to share all the details when the time comes.
There will be pictures.
Lots of them.
CREATE YOUR OWN STYLE GUIDE
Taking some time to create your own decorating “Style Guide” is something I would suggest to anyone who wants to solidify their personal style and shop with confidence. Plus having some guiding principles can keep you from buying things on a whim just because they are on sale or trendy at the moment.
1. Take Note. Start noticing the things already in your home that you love. Think about why you love them…These don’t even have to be decor items specifically. It could be a photograph, a keepsake, or an outfit that feels like 100% you.
2. Get Pinning. Start a decorating “Style Guide” Pinterest board and start pinning rooms and things that feel like you. If you use the “also pinned on…” feature on Pinterest, it can lead you to others who might have similar taste in home decor. I’ve found this to be really handy.
3. Notice the Details. After you’ve collected lots of images, look at what they have in common. Jot down how you would describe them. Try to discover any patterns. Is there a common mood? Color? Use of particular finish? Observe what you’re drawn to regarding color, furniture styles, decor, art work.
4. Get Specific. List the colors, patterns, finishes and styles that you want to use in your home. Decide whether you like a more “collected” or “cohesive” look in accessories and artwork. Decide if you like a symmetrical or asymmetrical styling. Are you drawn to very specific color palettes or rooms that mix lots of color in one space?
5. Create a Style Board. Print images of items you love. Cut out pictures from magazines that represent your style. Snag a fabric sample that screams your name. If you’re the techie type, create a digital mood board on Polyvore. You can even go so far as to print and use when you shop to serve as a visual reminder.
6. Change it Up. Remember that it is a guide, not a constitution…Don’t be afraid to change things up and allow yourself to adjust with life’s seasons as you experiment and search for your style.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions! Anyone up for creating a decorating “Style Guide”? If you you do, I’d love to see it.
those are my kind of colors! love this plan!
Barbara (WA) says
Such a great idea. I Pin like crazy and it is interesting to go through my boards and see what caught my eye. I will use your Style Guide idea for narrowing down what I really love.My challenge is that we’ve lived in our home for almost 30 years. Transitioning from how things have “always” been to fresh and new is tricky. I am in the process of organizing at the moment, making myself think of how to improve function of those spaces. When we finally get the hardwood floors in, I am going to have to decide if we keep the couch and love seat (high quality but purchased in 1989) and work around them.
I think that you’re wise to start with the function first, Barbara. So many times a beautiful room lacks function and becomes frustrating in the long-run. Wishing you strokes of organizing genius and plenty of storage options in your efforts:)
I’d say that unless you still just love your sofa and love seat, 20 years is a life well spent! New floors deserve some new furniture. (Then again, I’m not the one paying for them. Hah!)
Beth of designPOST interiors says
I love the idea of a style guide, for myself and clients! It is so easy to get lost in Pinterest-land and forget what it is you really love. And I can’t wait to see your client project!
The Pinterest wandering is REAL. Lordy. Don’t I know it.
I’d love to see your style guide, Beth! (I’m sure there will be lots of blue:)
Love this idea and have started collecting colors and ideas that I love. My issue is that I’ve just moved into an historic home – (renting and hope to buy). It’s a post and beam saltbox built in 1787. It’s been pretty much stripped of years of wallpaper and down to the plaster – original wood floors, doors, hardware. I’m having trouble balancing my tastes and love of color with wanting to keep the Colonial core still in tact. Any ideas? Thanks!
Here’s my take on historic homes, Tammy…I’ve worked on a few including my own. A rule of thumb that I’ve found works pretty well is to keep things like light fixtures, paint colors, and rugs in a style that speaks to the historic period and original architecture of the home. Using classic pieces here is a much safer bet than going too contemporary. Then with your furniture, accents, artwork, and textile-go crazy! If you can layer in pieces that don’t feel too period-focused, this lends a fresh feel in an older home. All the best and hope that helps:)
love this idea! such a great way for clients to visualize the end at the beginning of the project. this is going to be a beautiful house!
I love this room! And I am totally smitten by that white wood + mirrored unit as an entertainment center. <3
This is great! I’m helping my finnicky and fickle grandmother redecorate and she has a hard time expressing what direction she’d like to go in and articulating her own style. Do you have any tips on what questions to ask indecisive people to get them to this point? I know she’d love to have a style guide for her apartment but I’m not sure how to coax all of the details out! I love your site. I saw a great link to your office organization post on a buzzfeed article about getting organized and I’ve been voraciously reading through it since!
Thanks so much, Angela! How sweet of you to help your grandmother. Honestly I’m working on a new class that covers this very topic (hah!). I would give you this quick advice…Try using pictures to help her narrow down what she likes. Also limit the choices. Instead of 20 rooms, just show her 10 pictures of rooms and have her pick her top three. Then discuss what specifically she like about those three rooms. Next look for similar rooms to those three (or with similar characteristics) and show her the new pictures again. See if she has the same reaction to similar pictures at another time. This will help you see consistencies in her preferences. I hope that helps and THANK YOU so much for following along and reading:) (PS: Did you download my free decorating guide, “The Decor Jumpstart”? You can access it via the image right below my picture in the sidebar. I think it will help you out!)