Learning to make a beautiful home

melody-sApril 21, 2012

I am looking for food for thought from the wise people here.

My youngest is graduating HS and moving out soon. It is just me since I was widowed several years ago. I am buying a new (to me) three bedroom home with space for a large garden, after recovering financially and having to sell my previous house after I was widowed. So there are lots of changes coming in my life.

Decorating my home was always a lower priority than so many other things in my life, so I never got good at it. Now there will only be me to please and I want my home to reflect that. My aesthetics run towards romantic / vintage / shabby chic. However, I am not an artsy type so I really do not know how to implement it. I want to have a beautiful, peaceful home. I want a home that welcomes me when I come through the door. I want something more personal than simply buying the set out of a furniture store.

How does a person learn the skills to make a beautiful home? I know what I like when I see it, but I struggle to understand how to get there. Is there something like the Master Gardener program for the decorating the home with volunteers to share knowledge? Is it best to hire a professional?

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My education in home decorating has come from looking at a lot of pictures for more than 5 decades. Fortunately the internet now is an unending source for learning. Before that there were only magazines and books for inspiration.

I suggest you save pics of room/houses you like and study them to see what they have in common. The style you like (romantic/vintage/shabby chic) can be done inexpensively and there are many things that anyone can do to implement this style. Painting furniture is not difficult, just requires a bit of patience.

Here are some sites that will provide lots of pictures of this style:
"Cottage of the month"
"Country Living magazine"
"My Romantic Home blog" Cindy gives info on how to paint furniture and other tutorials, just scroll down and look at the right-hand column for links.

There are other sites online as well and I will check on this thread later when I have more time to see what others have posted and add more if needed. I know you will receive a lot of ideas on this forum, the members here are very helpful.

All the best to you in this new adventure. I know that change is not always easy but I hope you will be able to enjoy creating your new home.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 12:08PM
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I've linked a web site below for a young decorator that I think has put together a wonderfully cogent methodology for new decorators. The book is available from Amazon and probably can be found in used condition other places, but I thought you might enjoy taking a look at some of her thoughts. I've been buying her book for all of the new home buyers in my life, both men and women.

Here is a link that might be useful: Meghan

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 12:19PM
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Thank you :)

I have bookmarked those links and I put the book in my Amazon basket. The book looks great - BTW. I read a few pages online and it made real sense.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 12:44PM
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Best of luck in your new home. Enjoy the decorating, take your time and don't get discouraged.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:06PM
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Thank you for the book suggestion, Fun2BHere. I just bought it from Amazon.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:18PM
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Happy to help, Clueless. I hope you find it useful.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:12PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Youve gotten great suggestions. I think it helps to get an inspiration piece for each room...it can be anything from a blouse to a plate, to a picture or a room you've seen in a magazine. It will help guide you in colors.

For peaceful and welcoming, colors should be lower contrast. Monochromatic are the most peaceful. Contrast tends to be higher energy.

Also, take your time. Get what you need then take your time and enjoy filling your space with what you really love...and you'll know it when you find it.

Keep scale in mind...many rooms are left wanting for lack of scale...pieces crammed in that are too big or spaces that are left too vacant for want of a bigger piece.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 7:36PM
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This may sound funny, but I find it helpful to take pictures of my space and look at them when analyzing the space.

It helps pinpoint the sore thumbs that we don't notice everyday but are there.

Things like light switch covers not matching, or how stark a paint color really looks, or how the undertones of things don't really work together.

It also helps to see what is going on with proportions and scale.

When you are putting out decor on the mantle you are right up close. If you snap a picture, it helps you see how it really appears.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 7:11AM
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You are ahead of the game already, because you are asking the right first questions. The Meghan book is a wonderful idea, and everyone here has given you very good advice, too.

I have three pieces of advice for you to take or leave, if you want to:

1. Buy yourself a big three-ring binder (2" is good) , one or two sets of tabbed dividers you can write on and a package of plastic sleeves to go in it, and a three-hole punch, if you don't already have one. Set up the sections that make sense to you. (I have always done it room by room, and also included sections for appliances, addresses and contact information for suppliers and recommended contractors, pure inspiration - things like that.) Then start collecting photos, thoughts, magazine pages, things you print from the web, fabric samples, paint chips, practical tips - anything that inspires you or that you want to record.

2. Designate one of your bedrooms (or another place you can close the door on) as your staging/junk room, and let it be where you stash things you are considering, bolts of fabric, or things you might want to get rid of...that kind of thing. If you can keep the decisions you aren't ready to make, and the general messiness of starting out, out of your mainstream, you're less likely to feel overwhelmed or pushed.

3. Once you have established your underlying ideas and your plan, try not to stray from them. A peaceful home is visually calm, and calm spaces are disciplined. What you leave out is as important as what you put in.

And check back in here as you go. As lucky gal says, this is a forum full of nice, generous people...and we do love to say what we think!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 9:02AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I agree with bronwyns mom about the notebook.

When we were designing and building our home I put together a trusty "blue book" with tabs for each room and magazine pics, furniture layouts on scale drawings, fabric swatches, paint color squares, etc.

It was an invaluable resource and communication tool as I talked with the architect, builder and trades people. It came with me when I went shopping for supplies, fabrics, lighting, furniture pieces, linens, etc. it helped keep me straight as I went through the process. And as I browsed magazines and ripped out pages with ideas or took pics of inspirations, it gave me a place to put them and keep them organized.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 9:19AM
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Congratulations on your new home. I agree with the above posters re looking at books and magazines to see what appeals to you. Country Living magazine has some beautiful featured homes that you may like.

julie's suggestion to take photos of your own spaces does help. It's easier for me to identiify what does or doesn't work when I see my rooms in photos.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 9:30AM
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I can vouch for the binder. One way to get inspiration pictures is to do a websearch for "Images of cottage decorating," and print those you like.

One thing you can do is look around at your accessories, including furniture and ask yourself if you want some of them to be part of your decorating?

I'm an oddball though, I decorated my house around one bowl. lol.

It sure is going to fun to watch your progress. I hope you post pictures! A "Before" picture would be great!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 9:57AM
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Find some good blogs that break down how they get the look, step by step, post at a time.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 11:35AM
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I also keep a three ring binder. In addition to paint, fabric, and other samples, I also include proposals, contracts and for the items I purchased, the receipts, warranty information, salesperson contact information.

In addition to floor plans, I also like to include wall elevations.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 11:48AM
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