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Defining Style and Getting Started

A few weeks ago, I was sharing some tentative plans for our dining room re-do that we may or may not be doing later this summer with my best friend and she pointed out that she had no idea what type of style I was shooting for overall in our house. I looked at my past blog posts and realized that I never wrote out a post planned early on about our overall style inspiration for this house! 

For Christmas 2010, I was gifted the Domino: The Book of Decorating. It is a wonderful--priceless, really- resource for a novice decorator. The first chapter is "Getting Started," and it gives a step by step process of decorating a room. Their method is intuitive and just plain makes sense, so that's really what I've been following.  

The process outlined in the book is how to go room-to-room in your decorating. But I really want our entire house to feel cohesive, so I decided to first complete the "getting started" process with ideas for the house as a whole, and then as time goes along I'll break it down room to room. Here's the process with my notes for our little cottage.

1. Find inspiration: cast a wide net, start a file, and look for themes. I've found tons of inspiration photos from various sites and magazines (House Beautiful is a favorite of mine) that are examples of how I'd like our house to feel. I've sprinkled some of my favorite inspiration shots throughout this post. 

Designer: Annie Selke in House Beautiful

This image from House Beautiful is one of my original inspirations for the house as a whole. I love that it feels comfortable and cozy while still being light and airy. It really looks as though a family with young children could live here (minus the ivory sofas). It feels young, yet sophisticated. It also is a great use of neutrals, and I think it could transition between seasons very easily by switching out the bright yellow with rust and orange for fall, and deep reds and greens for winter. 
 2. Determine your style. This is where you assess all the inspiration and ideas you've gathered so far and try to attach some descriptive words to them. According to Domino this can really help "you focus and filter out the things that don't fit, and pinpoint those that do. it makes it easier to answer the question 'Is this me?'"  I whole heartedly agree with that statement, and couldn't say it better myself. So I didn't. 

The words for our house, so far, stand at Tailored, Sophisticated, Cottage. So what do these words mean?

Leah at House Obsession's kitchen. 
Tailored-- Scott and I both appreciate the mid-century modern aesthetic, but these looks can very quickly become outdated when grouped together. Mid-Century Modern tends to use graphic and clean lines (not to mean always straight), and geometric prints in a variety of colors. I really want to take the spirit of this style and blend it with other ideas. This thread of design will come through in us looking for clean lines in our furniture choices, modern geometric prints and splashes of color.
Sophisticated-- This really speaks to my more traditional side. I love some turned legs on a table. And I also like curvy chandeliers and impressionist art. I think this term also speaks to having a more edited space; I'm going to try my absolute hardest to kill the clutter-lover within me and focus in on the few things that I truly find beautiful or useful and not to buy or show pieces that just take up space. 
Cottage-- This may seem to clash with the sophisticated side, but I want the entire house to feel comfortable and breezy. I want the [edited, limited number?] items that we do showcase to have real character and give our collections time to really be acquired and not all purchased at a big box store. We have some really great antique shops here in Delaware, and I fully intend to become well acquainted with them all! 

3. Consider how you'll use the room. I want our entire house to be USED. I don't want a room cordoned off because it's "too nice" for the kids to use. I want our family and our guests to feel welcome and comfortable going anywhere in our house. Our home should be a home and not a show piece, while still being beautiful. 

4. Assess your stuff. This will be an on going process. As I've said before, we have many pieces that I bought intending them to be 'forever' and I think they will be. A few of these are the dining room set, the piano, the guest room bed and a few lamps. We'll just have to wait and see what happens with everything else. 

5. Draw up a floor plan. We'll be doing this room by room, though I have started thinking about the overall floor plan of the house and thinking about whether or not we may want to make a few really big changes (knocking down walls, etc) in the future.
The fabric shades in this office from Lonny is the main
 inspiration for my own office plan.
6. Set a budget. Again, this will be happening in a room by room basis. 

7. Research, Research, Research. If you've seen my pinterest, you know I do this already! I'm always looking for new ideas, new products, and vendors for the products I've gotten into my head that I won't be compromising on (such as a navy blue linen-esque track arm sectional sofa with a sleeper and a left arm 

8. Create a design scheme. This is a transition step where you consolidate all the information you've gathered--your floor plan, the items you need to purchase, pieces you're keeping, images of favorite items and fabrics and paints, etc. Then you assess how it all fits together, think on your priorities and make changes to your plans accordingly. I think making a rudimentary mood board would be a huge help in this step. 

Sarah Richard Designs shower stall
inspiration for the downstairs guest bath.
9. Make a decorating schedule. We're still working on this, too! I have a meeting in July to talk to a kitchens and bath contractor who can give me a better idea of the costs for renovating both the downstairs powder room and the kitchen. Then it's time to save, save, save!! We'll be paying for all of our renovations and redecorating with cash-- no credit! So we're in this for the long haul! I am hoping to get at least one room in the house decorated by the end of the year. It's likely to be the dining room since we have most of the furniture there already and it would be a cheaper room to finish. More on this later!

So there you are. The 9 step decorating process from Domino: The Book of Decorating and where we really are in the process. 

Now that you know my overall design scheme, do you have any suggestions for brands or designers I need to check out for inspiration? Any ideas on color schemes? Anybody want to give me about $25,000 so we can knock down a wall in the bathroom soon? 


Anonymous said...

You have such good taste and great ideas...I am sure that it is going to be absolutely darling! I am especially excited that the downstairs bathroom possibly being expanded to a full bath is on the front end of the plans. My only "suggestion" is to remember to make plans that will grow to fit your family grows larger and older. Teen and even pre-teen girls will have different "requirements" than little ones. This type of flexibility will also make it easier to sell your home if you should ever, say, have a fabulous job offer in Alabama!!! Love, Mama

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