Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Design Lazies

Well, vacation time is over, and my 69 year old Mum has just left. After spending three wonderful weeks together, I have concluded that either I am one of the laziest people I know, or, she is a super-human alien from another planet. Unfortunately, I have documented proof that she is not an alien, which I guess means I can be a wee bit lazy. So, on behalf of all the lazies, I thought I would offer up some design ideas that are quick and (almost) effortless:
  • If you do nothing else, make a good impression. Paint, stain, or at least, de-cobweb and clean your front entrance. Throw away any dead plants, and fix anything that is broken. If you can be bothered, add a colorful plant.
  • Remove the pillows that came with your sofa, and replace them with ones that you really like. (They don't have to "go" or match).
  • Have some fun, and display a collection that you had forgotten about. Or, store away some things that you don't love quite as much as you used to. Keep your collections, together, in one spot. (Plastic Trolls on a shelf will say that you are quirky and love Trolls, but scattering hundreds of them all over the house might say that you have 37 ferrets and knit sweaters out of dryer-lint).
  • Use an over-sized, real rug in the bathroom. It gives more personality to the space, and it won't get damaged from a few wet feet.
  • Buy a lamp that is a different size and shape from one that you already have. Every home needs more light; they add instant architecture, and are, of course, practical.
  • Change the lampshades that you have. If they are plain, then buy a patterned one, and vice versa. 
  • Be mindful of your furniture legs. Too many "legs" showing in a single room make it feel uncomfortable. Mix your skirted pieces with exposed legs.
  • Always have a real plant, or a bunch of flowers (twigs) in your main living area. It will make you happy, and people will assume that your house is cared for and, therefore, "decorated".
And, finally, being lazy doesn't mean that you can't be creative. Forget about what you "should" do, and consider these ideas for your more traditional pieces:
        - If your dining room table has begun to feel too formal, use kitchen chairs instead. (Check out bulk stores, flea-markets and garage sales for inexpensive options).
        - Bring an outdoor bench inside. Use it in any room for extra seating. (Add pillows or paint, if needed).
        - Hang your chandelier in your foyer, kitchen, bathroom, office or bedroom, and put something more unexpected over your dining table.
         - Move your china cabinet into your living room. Accessorize it as if it was a bookshelf. (This is one of my favorite things to do). Take the doors off if you like.
         - Place a bedroom dresser by the front door to store your gloves, keys and any last minute things that you might need. Or, take inspiration from the main photograph above; removing the drawer makes it far more useful (the open space could also store books or games) and it would be perfect in a large bathroom or cozy guestroom.

Thanks to Sacramento Street for the lovely photograph.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What's your Style?

Have you seen the recent decorating shows that try to define a homeowner's style? Apparently, we crave a label, and it is their job to come up with fancy names that tell us who we are, and how we should decorate. I was watching one the other day; after several minutes of very intense questions, the designer declared loudly (with a triumphant flourish) that the style was "Bohemian Classic Traditional with a hint of Asia". Really? What they ended up with was a lovely room, but I am not quite sure if it will ever live up to its rather grand and obscure title.

Maybe we think that it makes decorating easier, and giving it a name helps us know where to begin when we are feeling a little lost. Whatever the reason, I think that style is a very elusive entity, something that can take a lifetime to grow. But, for those days when we just can't wait, there are a few easy ways to figure it all out.

One of the simplest, is to take a look at your favorite clothes and accessories. Write down some words that  truly describe your personal style, and use the exact same words to find items for your home. eg. classic, eclectic, polished, comfortable, modern, simple, bright/shiny, fitted, vintage etc.

Another idea is to look around your home at what you already have; what do you enjoy, and what do you wish you didn't have? Do you prefer easy-to-clean surfaces, copious collections, a large or small television, squishy or straight-backed sofa's, familiar or original art, rustic or modern, carpets, tile, linoleum or hardwood, chandeliers, lamps or recessed lights. Be honest with yourself, keep what you love, and don't worry about what other people may think.

If you're still not sure, take a few moments to think about your ideal home, and how you would want it to feel. This isn't a pipe-dream, and it may not be your current reality, but it will help you to create your own design inspiration.

Of course, how could I write about this without mentioning some of the fun on-line quizzes that will tell you your design style. Here are just a few for you to do ...