Create a Cohesive Design

Last week I talked about finding my style and setting a budget and now I'm talking about cohesion in your home. I had a great question from a podcast listener about creating a cohesive interior design style and that episode made me want to really hone in on how rooms flowed in my home. 

First, let's talk about design mistakes. FYI, even interior designers make them. At some point I knew I wanted to add color to my house and so I bought these amazing orange La Marie chairs by Philippe Starck. I love these chairs, but they are the wrong orange. I'm a rust orange type of girl.


You can also see a peek at the bright green carpet squares under the dining room table. Lesson learned was I am not really into bright colors. I want my colors dark, moody and super muted. Also, if you have a love for modern design, you too can own these chairs, because I've listed them for sale! 

Really taking a look at my style and picking my core colors made me see not only what needed to be added to my home, but what needed to be taken away. 

Pink and green are the core colors in my home, but that leaves some wiggle room for other colors. For example, I already own a rust orange vintage theater chair. I'm keeping it. I also own a blue/green French Victorian chair. These two are kind of tucked into a corner so they can stay.


Mixed into my rug is burgundy and green, which works with the pink and green that I've got going on. The burgundy also helps tie into my bedroom, which has burgundy and blue/green in it. 


OMG there is so much going on! Let me take a step back. The living room and dining room have a neutral base of grey. The walls are grey, the furniture is either white, wood or grey and everything is chill. From that you can start layering on colors and styles. 

To add cohesion does not mean that I am adding swaths of pink and green all over the house. Instead, I'm going to add hints of it. Touches of it to lead your eye from room to room. My office is already painted black and pink. It's more of a copper pink along the top 1/3 of the wall. From that room you see into the living room, which will have pink curtains and some pink accents in the pillows. The living room opens to the dining room, which has some pink in the artwork in the gallery wall. Tucked into the corner from the dining room is a hallway that leads into the bathroom and will have pink and green wallpaper. Standing from that hallway and looking into the dining room and then living room you see a blue/green chair and the green fireplace. 

I've also grounded my dining room with hints of black. The artwork is framed in black, the curtain rods are black and I'm adding a black light. That way I can add color and it won't feel excessive. 

Hints of it lead from room to room. Another way to create cohesion is through design style. My primary style is mid-century modern and my secondary style is French Victorian. There is mid-century modern and French Victorian furniture in each room. 

The other thing that is a constant in each room are plants! Yes, plants are a way to add some warmth and Oxygen to your home and also create design cohesion. 

Now that I know what the plan is I have a list of things I want in order to round out my home. 

  • Wallpaper for the hallway
  • Shelves in the hallway
  • Paint the fireplace
  • Make pink curtains
  • Black light for over art in the dining room
  • Items for the workbench (it's a little sparse on styling)
  • Dining Room Rug
  • Dining Room Chair
  • Pillows for the couch

My first search is actually my house. I already had the fabric to make the curtains and I swapped around some pillows from the living room and office that totally worked. I usually try to look to Etsy for lighting, but I couldn't quite find what I was looking for and actually ended up finding a light at Urban Outfitters. I hit up some vintage stores and found a fabulous candle for the workbench. Target released their Opalhouse line and the removable wallpaper selection was crazy amazing. I'm going to buy some reclaimed wood and make shelves for in the hallway. Then I can finally take my books out of the linen closet! 

I'm still looking for dining room chairs. I have the perfect chair in mind, but because I don't like to buy knockoffs, I'm either going to have to save up or find another option. For right now, I'm going to wait on this one. 

My budget often dictates my choices. I try to buy handmade and local, but sometimes I don't find exactly what I want or I do and I can't afford it. Sometimes you just need to go to Target and get your wallpaper! 

We'll see how this all works out. 


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Setting a Budget and Finding My Style

Image via the  MakerPlace

Image via the MakerPlace

I did a whole house freshen up/finishing up recently to prepare for a photoshoot. I'll share those details when they are posted. I'm almost afraid to jinx it. I had the bones in place in my home, the furniture, rugs, some pieces of art, but I needed some finishing touches. Plus I needed to get through some of my to do list. Ironically I added some things to it and didn't get some of those things done! 

There are two things I need when I'm embarking on any interior design project, whether it is for myself or a client. One is the budget and the second is the style. I was doing the finishing touches in the kitchen, dining room (including a few new chairs) and the living room. I set aside $600. Most of the budget went to dining room chairs and art. The rest was accessories and paint. I already had the fabric for the curtains. I initially was going to slip cover the chaise in my office, but decided I liked the dark color. That left just enough fabric for curtains in the living room, although I did have to search through my stash for about 6 inches to finish off each curtain! 

The next was really honing in on my style. I've mentioned before that I struggle with wanting my home to be all white vs having a ton of color.  Color definitely won out. The reason is because I started looking through all of the things I had pinned to my home's board and the color combo of green and pink kept popping out. At one point I was thinking about repainting my office green, but then I realized that I could repaint the fireplace. It looks amazing. 

Since I was dealing with a few rooms I divided my pinterest board up into multiple sections. This was a lifesaver! It let me pin inspiration images and also hone in on things I wanted to purchase for my home. 

Pinterest Board of home decor ideas

While the living room was getting a bit of color, the base in the dining room was still white and natural woods. The art on the wall picked up some of the pink and blue/greens from the living room and carried them over. I wasn't quite ready to let go of that Scandi sytle, but now the two rooms definitely talk to each other. something I'll talk about more next week. 

Since my budget was tight I was really focused on the things that had high impact. The major one was painting the fireplace. It changed the whole look of the house. 

painted fireplace and sofa in living room

The next was bringing in some accessories and art. It just made my home feel much more finished. You'll have to wait for the pictures from the photographer to see those changes. 

If you are looking to design your space really hone in on what your budget is. Also, keep in mind sometimes having budget constraints forces you to get creative. It really made me take a second look at the fireplace and dig into my fabric to see if I could make some curtains. Then pin a bunch of things and then hone in on what your style is. You'll start to see that certain things keep coming up. 

If you are still stuck and aren't sure how to find your interior design style then take a look at my class Interior Design: Find Your Style. 

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Turn your Apartment Rental into a Home

Wall with framed photos above a side board

I've lived in a lot of apartment's. As a kid we lived in apartments until I was about twelve and my mom always did little things to make it feel like our home. Even in my college dorm room I did things to try to make my little space feel like mine. 

I've spent my adult life living in apartments and the one thing I've learned is you need to make it yours. Many of us treat an apartment as a temporary living space because you may move out sooner rather then later and, well, it's an apartment. 

I'd suggest ditching the temporary mentality. I can't tell you how many people have thought they would be in a place for one year and then five years later and they still don't have art on their walls. When you move in, move in and make it yours. 

I've taken a few years to make the changes I've made in my home. I like to live in a space and see what will work. Plus my style has evolved over time and I like to explore new things in my home. 

The one thing that will have the biggest impact is paint. Most leases will state what you are allowed to do. If you aren't sure if you can paint then check with your landlord. They may stipulate you need to paint it back when you leave. They should paint between tenants anyways, so there shouldn't be a problem. 

I lived in my apartment for three years hating the paint color. It was beige and had these jaundiced yellow undertones. I finally painted it a light grey and it made such a difference. I can't believe how much time I spent hating my house. I also painted my fireplace because the red was just too much and it wasn't my color. I did check with my landlord first and he gave the OK. 

Here's the before-

Living Room Fireplace with coffee table and rug

And after! 

Living room fireplace with new paint and furniture

Temporary wallpaper is everywhere these days. I got mine at Target! I cannot yet attest to how easy it comes off. I'll report back, because knowing me I'll want to change it out. The very top paper shows a subtle temporary wallpaper I used. While the wallpaper below was a little bit more bold. 

Floral wall paper in entry way of home design

I highly recommend going for something bold in small spaces. 

Hand stitched textiles and updated wall paper

Another option is to use paint canvases. In my bedroom I hung three large canvases behind the bed (I got them on super sale) and it adds color and pattern without having to paint the walls. Here's the how to

If you don't feel like getting out the paint brushes, I get it. Definitely make sure you decorate and design your home so it feels like you. Hang your art, find a beautiful rug, and get some plants. There are so many small ways that you can make your house feel like your home. The main point is to not treat your home as a temporary way station. It's your home, so own it (at least temporarily!).  

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How You Create an Urban Garden

Photo of green, painted brick fireplace in an eclectic living room

Can I tell you how happy I am that plants are trendy! It's a trend I can jump on board with. I got my first plant my freshman year of college and it was a philodendron. I had that plant for 18 years but the person who sublet my house when I moved abroad for a year neglected and killed it along with some of my other plants. 

I'm talking on the podcast this week about raising plant babies.  If you are on iTunes take a listen and make sure you subscribe to receive new podcasts when they go live. 

Since then I've slowly been building up my plant stash. Plants bring so much to a home. They are green and growing and help with indoor air quality. They are also an indicator for me of my mood. When I find myself neglecting my plants, it makes me have to check in and see how I am doing. 

I only have indoor plants. I do have a back patio, but it does not get much sun. Plus I know me and if the plant isn't in front of me, I tend to neglect them! 

Here are some things I have learned over the years of taking care, and yes, in some cases, killing a plant. 

  • To thine own self be true. Yes, I just quoted Polonius in Hamlet. If you are super busy, super low-maintenance or you just don't do well with living things, then start out with something easy to take care of. It is why every kid gets a fish instead of a dog when they first ask for a pet! 
  • Go to your local nursery. These people know their stuff. Tell them what direction your windows face and if you are ready for a high maintenance pet, I mean plant. I wanted a hanging plant for my kitchen, which does not get much light. My nursery suggested a philodendron, which is doing well in its low light environment. 
pot of succulents and wildflowers in vases


  • Trendy may not work in your home. If you live in the mid-west chances are you should not buy a Fiddle Leaf Fig. They are temperamental and needy little buggers and you don't have enough sunshine. Try something like a ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). This guy looks super awesome, can exist in low-light and doesn't mind if you forget to water it. Also, FYI I've killed a ton of succulents. They just don't like my house. I've moved on.... kind of. 
My ZZ plant! 

My ZZ plant! 

  • Plant it in the right soil. Make sure you check with your nursery or all mighty google to find out what kind of soil your plant likes. Succulents and cactus' are going to want a more sandy soil and my jasmine plant (which blooms nine months out of the year) is going to want some nutritious dirt and some fertilizer. Also make sure that your pot has proper drainage. Some plants don't want any water standing around their roots. If your pot doesn't have a drainage hole make sure you put rocks at the bottom. 
  • Create a watering schedule. I check in with my plants every Sunday night. It's my Sunday night ritual, water the plants and food prep for the week ahead. I recommend touching the soil first to see if your plant needs water. If it's dry go ahead and water, but if it is still damp, give it another day or two and check it again. You can overwater plants! 
Rabbit foot fern (super temperamental)

Rabbit foot fern (super temperamental)

  • Get cuttings from friends. Growing plants doesn't have to be super expensive. In fact it can be super cheap if you steal cuttings from friends (maybe give them a heads up first). The spider plant below is from a cutting from my mom's spider plant, which is probably a cutting from my grandmother's spider plant. 
vintage sewing machine with a potted plant on a wood desk 
  • Keep your plants happy. If your plant is changing colors in a bad way, then google it! Chances are it isn't getting enough light, or you are overwatering it. I have one plant, a rabbit foots fern, that is picky as all get out. It likes lots of indirect light, but it doesn't like direct light, which I learned the hard way. Recognize that you'll win some, but you may lose some. 
  • Resources- First I always recommend the nursery when buying a new plant. They are going to be your best resource. My ZZ plant recently had some leaves turn yellow and I googled the heck out of that. Turns out, I was overwatering. I eased up on watering and now it's green and healthy. I love the Urban Jungle Bloggers. They have some wonderful plant inspiration. Another great blogger is Justina Blakeney. She's got great boho style and often talks about plants. Keep in mind though that she is in Cali, which means some plants may not work if you live elsewhere! 

Now go get some plants! 

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It's Time for a Spring Clean Up!

Photo by  Jennifer Burk  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash

I left the house without a coat today and I felt naked! Spring is one of my favorite times of year (right behind Fall) because we have birds chirping again, flowers springing and the smell of a fresh mown lawn. I like Spring as well because it is a time of rebirth and renewal. So, grab some of that spring energy and bring it into your home. I'm diving into this even deeper on the podcast. If you are on iTunes take a listen and make sure you subscribe to receive new podcasts when they go live.

One part of Spring is definitely spring cleaning! Except, I'm going to scale it back a bit. I think spring cleaning is so overwhelming because they idea of cleaning out the whole house and tackling all the dust bunnies is just too much. Instead what I suggest is you pick a room to focus on. One that maybe has been neglected. I recently went through and thoroughly cleaned my kitchen. It took a little bit longer then I thought, but that was because I tackled it in 20 minute increments. I don't have a day to devote to cleaning the kitchen and so I broke it down to small tasks over time. Now the kitchen is clean and it has been styled. I enjoy spending time in there and cooking. One of the biggest changes I made was to take down the heavy curtain and hang a sheer curtain to let in the light. I did end up putting up some glazed plastic because there is a lot of neighbor traffic and I wanted some privacy. But now there is so much more light! 

That leads me to my next bit of spring cleaning. Swap out some of your heavier decor items for something brighter and lighter. It doesn't have to be throughout the whole house, but pick a room and lighten it up for spring. Swap out one of your living room pillows for a bright geometric or floral pattern. You don't have to go crazy and redo the whole room, but give it a refresh. It may make you fall in love with your home again. 


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