It’s been a little chilly and blustery in Northern California lately. In just this one week we had a ton of rain (we desperately needed it, but enough already!), below freezing temps and chilly days, high winds (lost a large area of our fence), some minor flooding, hail storms, some full sun and blue skies, some big puffy clouds, and even a dusting of snow. Old man Winter is definitely loving us this year. Funky and cold. So when a woman over 40 can’t play tennis, what else can she do? Redecorate!
It was time anyway. I mean, I have lived in this house for almost 12 years and our master bedroom has never really been properly decorated. It was quite the mish-mash of pieces. Two old and really cheap looking heavy wood nightstands; a pair of rice paper lamps that I really like, but that have seen much better days; two very large Plantation style chairs that just took over the room (one of which had been jumped on a bit too much by two toddlers); an old overstuffed chaise with lots of sentimental value, and a few other odds and ends.
My style is pretty eclectic. I like what I like. My design aesthetic is a little modern and a little bohemian. I love textures and patterns, but simple and authentic. I’ve also been a huge fan of Moroccan and Turkish rugs and textiles for many years and now have quite a nice collection. I like to have a good mix organic elements: stone, metals, wood, and natural fabrics, including linen and leather. I also am completely obsessed with pillows. My decorating style is high-low, allowing for me to splurge a little on really important and statement pieces by saving on most other items.
The color scheme needed a re-fresh. I was just plain old bored with it. I found a few color palette inspirations and just let my imagination run with it. I’ve loved the Moroccan look and I decided that would be the overall look. So, I took over our master bedroom and it has now become my “she shed”, or my “Casbah” or Funky Cold Medina.
Of course, I could not stop with just re-doing the master bedroom. Now the guest bathroom, the other half bath off the kitchen needed to be similarly refreshed so that the house had a cohesive look. Not matchy-matchy, but at least get them in a similar color scheme and aesthetic so that each room flows into the other.
I have many places in my home that I opted not to have a door, but have a curtain instead. When I change the curtain, I always keep the one I am tired of, if I really still love it. This time I was able to re-use two curtains that I had in kept from previous years. They look new again in this new refresh and I saved money, not having to buy new ones, that I could then use on other items. You probably will be able to do this as well. Sometimes you can just move things around, other times you can paint them or cover them.
Design Tips for Do It Yourselfers
Here are my tips for do-it-yourself fun decorating without breaking the bank. If you can afford to hire a professional designer or decorator to help with a bigger job, by all means, do. But if you’re like me, a woman over 40 and you love the process or just want to express your creativity, I encourage you to try.
- Create a color palette. Inspiration is everywhere. I usually find mine in a fabric, a scarf, a piece of art, a rug or a photo on the internet (IG has some of my favorite feeds that I use as style inspiration). Take and save photos on your phone of everything that inspires you and then you can narrow it down later.
- Then decide on the style of your design.
- Now, look at what you already own. Can anything stay and be worked into the design? Can it be painted, or used in a different location, or even serve a different function? I took a piece of framed art and put it on the opposite side of the room and instead of hanging it, I leaned it against the wall. I spray painted a metal table that I still love, but in the new color scheme, it really needed to be gold or brass. Reuse pillows or move them to another room. At least save the inserts and just buy covers for them. Sometimes just moving furniture around in a room will give it a hugely different feel. Sometimes you can sell what you have if it was expensive and use that money for your new design.
- Decide what pieces you need to replace or find.
- Take photos (on your photo) of pieces that you already own that you want to use/keep so that you can reference them when you are shopping for other things.
- Do you need to paint the room? Or maybe just one wall an accent color, or wallpaper it? I like having neutral walls and maybe just changing out one wall, or not. Then I add color in pillows, throws, rugs, art.
- Remove all of the pieces from your room that you are not going to use, and clean everything while the room is almost bare. Now you can see what you need and what you can live without. This is a good time to make a list of what you need to purchase.
- Once you have a list of the things you need to buy, it’s time to start shopping. You can buy used, which is great for the planet and usually, easier on the pocketbook. Or you can buy retail. Second hand stores, consignment shops, garage sales, Craigslist, Nextdoor and flea markets are such a great place to find lots of really cool things and save money. There are so many resources now online that I have to admit, I did most of my shopping online this time. I will list my favorite shopping resources nearer the end of this blog.
- When you are online shopping, save photos of all pieces that you are considering, are that you order. This is invaluable for using to make sure colors, shapes, styles and patterns work together before purchasing. I started with a rug I found on Etsy and since it was going to take a while for it to arrive (was coming from Turkey), I used the photo again and again to help me find other complimentary items.
- Remember scale, especially when buying online. If you can physically go to the store to see in person (the weight, the finish, the actual colors, etc.), it helps. But always look at the measurements. I almost bought a side table for my bed and when I went to the store it was a miniature of what I had thought it would be. So always first have an idea of the size you want and then study the measurements. You can quickly rule out items that are too tall, too short, too wide, etc. before costly bad purchases.
- If you have a set budget, make sure you keep a list of all of the prices, including shipping and make choices accordingly. Speaking of shipping, make sure that you look at the costs of shipping because with larger and heavier items some places charge quite a lot for shipping, while others may offer a low flat rate or Free shipping. Free shipping and returns is always the best choice. Because no matter how carefully you select a piece, it may just not work out and you will have to return it. Free return shipping or the ability to return it to the store is a must!
- Also, if you are shopping online, make sure to sign up for the company’s email discount and use that on your purchase. And before hitting the purchase button, check your email inbox for any discounts or promo codes for that store to apply before completing the purchase. And one more final step, and this is a really important one, go to one of the sites, like Retailmenot, to look for other Promo Codes that might add further discounts before you purchase. You should never have to pay full retail. This is a really good time of year to get discounts for the home, by the way.
- Always think of ways to make artwork yourself, if possible. I take photos and have them enlarged online at Vistaprint and then frame them (buy frames on sale, or used, or just use frames you have), which saves me hundreds and hundreds of dollars on artwork. You can even do poster size. I’m also a big fan of using rugs and textiles to hang on walls for color and texture. Your childrens’ artwork is another great source for framing and hanging. Or large canvas family photos. I even have masks from one of our travels hanging in our guest bathroom. Oversized mirrors are good used strategically in smaller rooms or when you want to highlight what’s in the reflection.
- Lighting is also key. Will the lighting you have currently work in the new design? Lighting can be very expensive, but there are inexpensive finds to be had if you look around. I saw some beautiful hanging baskets online at one of my favorite inspirational sources, that I wanted for over my kitchen island, but I needed 3 and they were just too expensive. I looked around and found them at another retailer, for 1/3 of the price and on sale with free shipping! Score!!! With the money I saved on those, I was then able to afford the capiz and brass chandelier that I really wanted for my bathroom at the expensive retailer online! I used a promo code on that and I was able to get that one for 20% off.
- Once your items start to arrive in the mail, or you bring them home, set them up immediately and see if they work in the space with the other things. Always leave the tags on for a few days and live with them just to make sure. If you don’t love it – back it goes!!! Only keep what you love. Only keep what makes you smile and makes you feel good. I’m a very touchy feely person, very sensory driven – anything scratchy or smelly will not make the cut. I had purchased some linen pillowcases that I loved online and when I got them they were just not soft. Even though I wanted to love them, I really could not stand to touch them. So back they went. I found some that I had in the linen closet from a while back, washed them and put them on and voila!
- Don’t forget what’s under your feet to tie everything in. I have light oak hardwood floors and I love to see and feel the wood, but I still need to break it all up with throw rugs. Sometimes, I move them around from room to room and they feel just right in another space. Don’t be afraid to mix prints with prints. Stripes with florals. Cowhide rugs work in almost any room. As do vintage rugs, or handmade kilims. And they don’t always have to be placed perpendicular or symmetrically. If you need an odd size for a runner or other non-standard size, Etsy is a great source. I have found rugs perfectly sized for many odd-sized areas. Again, just check measurements very carefully, and make sure that if you are dealing with a seller from another country that you are checking in the correct units, i.e. inches or millimeters, etc.
Below are my favorite home shopping sources (an * on my absolute favorite go to’s)
- One Kings Lane (high end but excellent style)
- ABC Carpet and Home (high end and mostly for inspiration, beautiful lust-inducing pieces)
- Serena & Lily (mid range to high)
- RH (high end)
- *West Elm (mid range)
- *Zara Home (good quality and style for not a lot of cost)
- Joss & Main
- *Home Goods (discount – lots of brand names, towels, linens, pillows, dishes, frames) If you see it here and love it, buy it. It won’t be there when you go back.
- *World Market (discount and good knock off styles, affordable pillows, poufs, throws, napkins, furniture, baskets)
- *Target (for towels, sheets, duvet, side tables, lamps, picture frames, curtains)
- *Etsy (vintage and/or handmade one of a kind rugs, pillows, artwork, Moroccan wedding blankets)
- Michael’s (paint, picture frames on sale only)
- Ebay (just make sure it’s exactly what you want and ask questions before bidding)
- Second hand stores, Flea markets, Consignment shops
- Search engines for looking for specific things and finding great deals
Adorable and affordable lamps from Target online. Really nice quality and not too big for a small bedside table.
If you have made it all the way through, congratulations (and thanks for hanging in there ),you must be ready to get started on your own project!
After reading my tips and looking at the photos, I hope you are inspired to get started refreshing your space. Let me know if you have any questions, and I’d love to see photos of your before and after.
Now, go let your creativity abound!
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