Finding My Style

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Photo via digsdigs

Style, whether it is fashion or interiors, grows and changes. Sometimes it is something I’m interested in and sometimes I’ll just grab whatever is in the closet and put it on. What’s in style changes from day to day it seems! So, overall I recommend trying to get in touch with what you really like and following that style regardless of the trends.

Over the last few years I’ve been experimenting with my style. My core furniture remains the same, but I add different pillows, paint, wallpaper and art to change things up. Initially I was really drawn to the Scandinavian style of white and grey with natural wood tones to add texture and interest. Yet, on the flip side I really love dark moody interiors.

I’ve slowly been adding layers to my home. Not necessarily a ton of stuff, but putting grey sheepskin on my Bertoia chairs (which FYI you kind of need so you don’t get waffle butt!), adding a wool pillow to the couch, putting new art up on the walls as I find it and putting candlesticks on the dining room table along with a table runner.

I realized I was moving away from the bright white interiors and embracing the dark side. It takes time to figure out your style. I don’t look at any of the things I have done in my home as mistakes, but rather, as opportunities to experiment and grow. Since the big pieces have stayed the same I haven’t had a big outlay of money that I’m going to lose. Just 50 bucks for a can of paint, divided over four years of enjoyment and you see that the cost isn’t significant. Also, anything I change up, I can sell or donate.

Don’t feel like you have to be married to one particular style. I think because of the time, effort and money that I had put into my home I was supposed to just let it be, but your home is never finished. You grow and change as a person and your home can do the same.

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Dining Room Reveal

 Photography by   Dorey Kronick

Photography by Dorey Kronick

I just realized that I never shared the photographs that my friend Dorey Kronick took of my home. She does amazing things with light.

I love this room because it is filled with light, it has art from some of my favorite people and places, and it is great for entertaining.

 Photography by  Dorey Kronick

Photography by Dorey Kronick

Most of the room is painted a light grey and a darker grey above the picture rail, but the main wall (and only wall) has temporary wallpaper with a crocodile pattern on it. I found it at Target, but they don’t carry it any longer.

That wood bench was a workbench in my grandfather’s garage. Now it acts as my buffet. It can hold a lot of food!

 Photography by  Dorey Kronick

Photography by Dorey Kronick

 Photography by  Dorey Kronick

Photography by Dorey Kronick

The dining room table was actually a Craigslist find, along with the vintage Bertoia chairs. You’ll often find me working here because the room is so pleasant.

 Photography by  Dorey Kronick

Photography by Dorey Kronick

I’ve had that Victorian chair forever! I found it at a vintage store and only got around to reupholstering it a few years ago.

 Photography by  Dorey Kronick

Photography by Dorey Kronick

It’s a room filled with treasures- things from my family, things I’ve found on my travels and vintage finds. I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini tour. I should probably share the living room some day!

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The unsexy part of design

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I'll admit when I first thought about doing interior design I imagined fabric swatches and paint samples, hunting down treasures at antique stores and going shopping with clients. 

The reality is that you have to do the hard parts first before you can start playing with fabric samples. The rest of the design falls apart if you do not have a solid base. 

I'm working with a fabulous couple and they have done what I usually recommend-which is to live in the home for awhile so they could decide what they wanted to do. That and they've set a budget.  The home has a kitchen with a dining area and a living area in the back of the house. The front living room and dining room, would generally be more formal, but they decided they don't want a formal dining room. They have a record player and love to listen to records but beyond that they just want a space to entertain and hang out in. 

I'm a pretty intuitive and empathetic person, which I feel helps me suss out people's design styles pretty easily. I also have my clients fill out a questionnaire, share a Houzz or Pinterest board with me and I take a look at the rest of the house. 

The very first thing I do when I meet with a client is to measure their space. We do also talk about their design style, living needs and color preferences. Then I'll pull together a first draft of a mood board. Here's a sample of some of the pins I pulled. 

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Sometimes, I rely on pinterest for a little inspiration, but in this case I already knew what the style was and I needed some layout ideas. My clients definitely have a mid-century modern clean vibe with a color palette of blues and greens. Since we were nixing the dining room I needed a way to pull the two rooms together and create separate spaces without the room feeling like a bowling alley or disconnected. The core request was for a space for the record player and records, and I started pinning ideas.

The floor plan and searching for furniture sometimes happen simultaneously. In this case I mapped out a first draft of a floor plan. A general idea of where things are going to go. 

RoomSketcher 2D Floor Plan.jpg

I liked the general direction this was going but I didn't quite like how it was flowing. Plus the window behind the couch has a low ledge and the couch was blocking some of the light. 

I pivoted the couch which made a huge difference and it felt like the rooms were a little more connected. Once I get the core furniture placement down then I hone in on how I want the room to feel. I'll start to pull furniture based on their style and color and adjust the furniture layout with those measurements in mind.

While a floor plan is extremely helpful to get an idea of how the room is going to look, it's also helpful to mark out where the furniture is going to be on the floor. This room is a little tricky because the entryway is right behind the chairs, there is a hallway through to the back of the house, a staircase and a bar. When I met with the clients to present the plan, I measured out and taped off where the furniture would be. At that point I realized that while there was physically enough clearance between the chair and the entryway, it just wasn't enough. I shifted everything a little closer to the window and that opened up the space a bit. 

Next up is choosing the furniture and wallpaper. 

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Design for Good

 white marble side table with social justice book

A good friend of mine shared the Design Justice Network Principles with me and they really resonated with how I try to design. 

I've been really struggling with what is happening in our country and how we as a nation believe that we do not have to be held to the same standards of human rights as the rest of the world. It hurts my heart. 

I know there have been so many action items posted on social media and I'm not going to add another action item to your list, instead I'm going to ask that we live our lives in a way that reflect our beliefs. 

Design Justice states first-

We use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities, as well as to seek liberation from exploitative and oppressive systems.

We have a lot of power in the the decisions we make and we can use our money to support our community. Every time we buy something we are sending our money and energy to the maker/seller of that product. 

I freely admit that there are times I would love to spend my money in a way that sustains, heals and empowers my community, but I've got a tight budget. Sometimes I save up for the thing I want and in some cases I buy what I need even if it is at a big box store. Yet, I do try to buy local and buy handmade. My local shop owners know me because I visit them often. They also know when I'm on a budget because they don't see me! There is something delightful about knowing the people in my community and using my money to support them. 

This last weekend I was in Charlotte, North Carolina visiting a client and making some final tweaks to the design plan. We went to a local wood shop and learned about their story and their history and how they came to build furniture. We were able to customize the furniture we needed and I left that shop feeling great about, not just the design, but how my clients and I made a decision to support the community. FYI if you are in Charlotte I highly suggest Brown Dog Wood Co. We also went to a few antique shops and picked up some wonderful unique pieces for their home. 

Full confession we went to Lowe's to buy patio furniture. Partly for convenience and partly because of budget constraints. 

It's about balance. When you can shop local to support your community, shop vintage to support the environment and shop handmade to support makers. Yet, if there is something you need, sometimes you just need to go to target. 

I lied, I am going to add something to your to do list. In the next week stop in that little shop in your neighborhood that you've never been in. Who knows what you will find. 

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Adding the Finishing Touches to Your Home Style

 candlesticks on top of dining room table

I tend to decorate a home in layers. It's a little bit like getting dressed for a chilly day! The foundation layer are your core basic needs, which would be furniture. The next layer is rugs, window coverings and maybe some throw pillows. After that are books, collections and art. Then there is the icing on the cake, those finishing touches that make your house feel like home. 

That final layer can take years. I'll admit, that in some areas of my home I didn't realize that the final layer was missing. My coffee table was empty, my dining table didn't have anything on it and the kitchen was missing any styling. 

I used to resist putting things on surfaces because I didn't want my home to feel too cluttered, but it felt kind of cold. I also learned that it is a good idea to put something on your dining room table from a Feng Shiu stand point. The energy blows past the dining table, but when you have something on it, then the energy has a place to swirl around. I added a beautiful linen table cloth and some hand made wood candle holders. I really wanted to add some natural elements to the dining table. 

 coffee table decor with succulents and coffee table books

My coffee table got a couple of books that mean a lot to me. A Danish mid-century modern vase, some hand made ceramics and plants. When in doubt add plants! 

Over the years I've collected bits and bobs and they are what I use to style my home. I don't often buy something for a specific spot, because I already have things on hand. Shop your home and see what you already have on hand. I also, move things around a lot and play with styling. 

Here are a couple of styling tips:

  • Varying height-Make sure you have items of different heights when you are styling a grouping. 
  • The rule of odds-When you are styling, put one, three or five things together. Feel free to play with this, but when you start out it just works when you put three things together. They look good. 
  • Use books-Books are great for adding height and interesting things for people to look at. Coffee table books can get pricey, but I've found some great ones at second hand bookstores or estate sales. 
  • Something funky-One thing should be a little bit odd, different or interesting. 
  • Play-Try something and if it doesn't work, then change it up. Move stuff around until it feels right. 

I feel like my home is almost there. I do have a couple of spots that I'm still playing around with. I'll stop moving things around some day! 

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