I think decorating was so difficult for me because whatever I brought into my house represented ME. The problem was, I didn’t like the way my house looked, but I didn’t know how to change; and, yet, I knew it represented ME. See the problem?! I was the mom. I was the woman and the likely one to care. And I so wanted to have a beautiful, cozy home for our family. I discovered some things are learned not all at once but a bit at a time.
I bought a couple of plants to go on top of the piano and put them on top of three books stacked up, and I also put a few things from our wedding up there, a man and woman statue we had been given and the topper from our wedding cake.
We subscribed to Country Living magazine, so I gathered all the issues we had, about a year’s worth, and put them in a basket I found. I put the basket on the floor in front of our piano.
I put the quilt Tony’s grandma gave us over the back of a chair in our living room.
I put a lace doily under a pitcher I found. (It’s okay. Doilies were more of a thing then. Now they are a bit dated, but I still like some of them!)
Changing the color scheme by getting rid of the orange couch and the green-framed picture and adding softer colors made a significant difference, all the difference in the world, really. Adding texture through the fabric of the quilt and doily and through the cane fibers of the basket and the glossy paper of the magazines, the wood of the piano, and the fullness of the plants, and my house started to look more like a home, even becoming cozy. It still had bare patches and needed help, but it was being filled with love and texture and more palatable colors, easier on the eyes, for sure.
I’m not claiming to be an expert decorator. I’m only a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread! I still love to add new pieces into my decorating scheme. It’s not a perfect home, but there is no such thing as perfection, right? It is cozy and beautiful to us now. It’s a home I love.
My Top 8 Best Decorating Tips:
Tip #1: Decide to Do It: Decorating is an act of your will. By that I mean you must decide to step into the unknown fog in order to have the home you want. Until you make the choice to change, it will never happen. At least give yourself a chance by trying.
Yes, I know I’m taking away the very best excuse for not decorating: “Well, my house looks like this because I’ve never tried to make it look any better.” Excuses don’t decorate a home. Don’t let fear stop you from having the home you want. Lay down your excuses and pick up a picture or cute pillow at Hobby Lobby instead.
Or maybe your excuse is “We can’t afford it.” So many amazing opportunities exist to buy second hand: eBay, Facebook sale city pages, garage sales, antique stores, consignment stores, your Memaw’s attic or garage all provide cheap, cheap, maybe even FREE options. Decide to do it: flip the switch from “Maybe” to “Let’s Do This” in your brain, and the sky’s the limit for you.
Tip #2: Get a Decorating Game Plan: Once you’re ALL IN with choosing to step into the decorating game and “make that change” you are headed for some wonderful, fun experiences and a beautiful home.
Find a style you love. Narrow it down to one type of look and it will be so much easier for you. Start following decorators on Instagram and other social media avenues.
Once you find a look you like, buy one thing that gets you started down that path. Follow Adele Brown, my daughter, on Instagram @homechronicles. Following her lead will help you tremendously. Pinterest and the internet provide millions of options right at your fingertips.
Are you traditional (predictable, calm, regular)? Are you more funky (unique, with fun pieces and colors)? Are you formal, informal? Do you love eclectic items or do you love a simple look? Do you just want a warm, cozy home for your family?
Be brave enough to recognize, accept, and embrace what your gut tells you you love. All styles are perfectly good and acceptable forms of decorating. But pick a style, one style, and it will make your life so much easier as you get started.
If you do some research, and you’re still not sure what you love, I suggest going semi-formal. This means you won’t buy super formal pieces (usually more expensive, bigger, and more elaborate, and heavier—think glass, mirrors, gold, ), but you won’t buy super informal pieces either (cheaper materials like plastic, smaller, more stream-lined, no-frills). You will take a middle-of-the-road option.
Think Hobby Lobby. If you’ve never been, you need to get in your car and head there right now. Hobby Lobby usually sells fairly informal, but usually nice, items. This is a great option for your style to get you started! Only buy things that fit into the style you choose for a while until you get the hang of it. Then you have more of a guarantee that the pieces you buy will all go together.
Study and find the general feel you think would look good in your house. Every home is different. Every home has a unique feel to it. Do you live in a farmhouse? A condo? A single-story ranch? Match your decorating style to your home, if you like. Get started by getting some white or black or brown wooden frames and go to Walmart or Walgreens and print out some pictures of your family you love. Frame a picture of you and your child at the beach or make your picture you love black and white (before you print it) and frame it (If the colors in the picture are really bright).
Every home can use some plants, lamps, pillows, throw blankets, and rugs. Match things to your couch, if you’re not sure where to start and you love your couch.
Spend a bit of time researching what style you like and write down the pieces that make this style work. If you like a farmhouse style, you will get a certain type of lamp, throw blanket, pictures, and furniture, etc.
Do the work. Do the research. Trust your gut. Take courage and let the games begin! Still not sure what your style is? It’s okay. It will slowly come to you if you just start moving and begin with one room. and. don’t. stop.
Tip #3: Take ACTION: Nobody will move your feet. You must decide to look foolish temporarily in order to look better later. There is wisdom in this strategy. The only way to know if you like something is to bring it home and try it. Or paint it and try it. Buy a picture and hang it up. Live with it for a month or so. If it grows on you, add more to it in a similar style and color. If you don’t like it, and this is really brilliant, take it down, or move it to another room. GET STARTED WITH YOUR FIRST STEP. What will it be? Decide to do a gallery wall somewhere (Google “gallery wall” and click on “Images” in the bar at the top of the page). Pick one room to start in, the easiest room, and change one thing in it. Make a plan for that room and follow it. One. Room. At. A. Time.
Stacey D. Wheeler
See Part Three: My Top 8 Best Decorating Tips for a Beautiful, Cozy Home: The True Story of the Orange-Flowered Couch