Developing a Design Plan - 10 Steps Toward Success and Sanity in Decorating a New Home or Completing a Home Remodel
During the 17 years that I’ve been helping clients transform their houses into homes I’ve noticed that there are several critical steps that need to be undertaken to successfully decorate a new home, or significantly remodel an existing home. In my experience, missing any of these key steps can cause issues and delays in the decorating effort.
It all starts with assessing your home inside and out. Does the interior design go with the exterior design? If not, do you want it to? What are the “givens” of your situation – e.g. the things that will be harder to change? Are you ok with these or are you willing to spend the time, effort and money to change them?
Next, what’s your personal decorating style? Do you have a single design point of view that you want carried throughout the house – or do you like a variety of styles?
What do you need to do to plan for your living needs? Do you entertain frequently? Inside? Outside? Do you need a place for the kids to play or designated homework area?
Have you spent any time figuring out your budget? Decide your priorities. Start with the basics, like what you will sit on and function with initially, then move on to the smaller items and design accents.
I know that this is a little bit of a teaser since I’m not going to give the internet all of the steps and details that I’ve sorted out over the years. So, if you want to receive the detailed 4-page approach that I’ve written to cover this topic, please email me on the "Contact" page and I’ll send it to you.
Until next time, I hope that your Summer was great and that as Fall arrives you have time to enjoy the splendor of the changing colors; especially here in New England!
It always happens…around the second week of August we get that sinking feeling that summer is slipping away. And then back-to-school ads come out, and we’re really bereft and utterly panicked. Nooooo! We need summer…we need summer freshness and promise and relaxation! Let’s make it last a bit longer…like until Halloween? Well, let’s just say into September…well into September (which is actually quite lovely weather-wise in Massachusetts).
So, is it possible to extend that summer feeling by enhancing your surroundings and décor? Yes, I think it is. Since our environment really impacts our mood let’s discuss 10 ways to keep summer around longer with a few decorating touches. There is hope after all, keep reading.
10 Tips to Extend Summer With Your Décor
1) Frame and display those summer vacation photos NOW so you can relive the happy mood you just experienced. Put together a new vignette on your console table or shelf or refrigerator in the kitchen, where you see it all the time. We take so many photos on our phones now, but how many do you actually print? Seeing smiling faces all lined up in your photos (especially if taken at the beach) can’t fail to lighten your mood while sipping your first coffee in the morning.
2) Decorate with real succulents inside. I know, those fake ones are really cute, but you can’t beat the happy factor of seeing real succulents with their cool shapes in your kitchen or family room. Here’s something my daughter created, a succulent basket (with lights!) for our kitchen table. In the evening, while watching TV, it has a firefly/fairy lights effect. There is clear connection between real plants enhancing our health (and air quality) indoors, and green plants both inside and outside our homes can only extend our summer great mood. If you don’t have a green thumb you might try succulents, or easy care plants like philodendrons, that even I have mastered keeping alive.
3) Display your shell collection in a glass container or fillable lamp. Did you go to the beach and collect shells or beach glass this summer? I bet each treasure was carefully chosen on the beach, and then when you got home, you tossed the sandy bag of shells in the garage where it still sits today. If you went to the effort of collecting them, then let’s think of a good way to display them without being too “beachy.” You know the look we are trying to avoid…’nuf said. To bring a small taste of your beach holiday to your “town” residence, add this year’s trove to a collection in a lamp or jar you can add to every year. Put the lamp in your office so you can get that good vibe when you work…priceless! And easy. But make sure you get one that you can fill from the top, so you or your kids can add to their collections. Here’s the “Wallington” from Birch Lane that would be great: https://www.birchlane.com/lighting/pdp/birch-lane-wallington-glass-table-lamp-bl7855.html
4) Repaint with a blue-green color. All summer long we see serene blue greens at the shore, lake, pool, in magazines, and of course at all the summer shops at our vacation destinations. With these colors, we feel clean, fresh, and rejuvenated. Well, let’s decorate with these hues in hardworking rooms in your home that could use a lift all year long - like your mudroom or laundry room. I love, love, love Benjamin Moore Gossamer Blue (2123-40) and its lighter cousin Ocean Air (2123-50). Talk about evocative names! So, I am painting my mudroom next week in a hue special mixed by my local paint store that is somewhere between Gossamer Blue and Ocean Air - call it my Goldilocks moment. I particularly love that the paint store clerk put the name “Ocean Air-ish” on my can of paint. I’ll share photos soon as an update to this blog!
5) Paint the Underside of a Porch Ceiling an Airy Blue-Green. If you have a covered porch, lucky you at this time of year! Take a clue from Southerners and paint the underside a cool blue or blue green to simulate the sky, and some say ward off the spirits (Haint Blue). This topic actually deserves a separate blog to recommend colors and provide lots of photos…so I’ll put it on the list for a later blog. So choose an airy color, paint the ceiling, and get those rocking chairs going under your new porch roof (even if you need a throw or afghan to take off the chill by the time you get to in coming weeks). Here’s a great blogpost on this topic from Elizabeth, at Blue and White Home, who writes an awesome blog (and has spectacular photos): https://blueandwhitehome.blog/2017/06/13/haint-blue-porch-ceilings/
6) Install an Outdoor Fire Pit. Talking about taking off the chill, now is the time for you to shop for a fire pit your family can enjoy until the snow comes. They are available everywhere for you to purchase, and at this late date, you might be able to get a deal. I have clients who say evenings around the fire pit with their teenagers are magical (the adults’ sentiments, maybe not the kids’). But the family is together, and there’s something primeval about fire… Here’s a great option from Frontgate, a catalog company that has quality items I have enjoyed recommending to my clients: https://www.frontgate.com/copper-fire-pit/156406
7) Add some blue stripes to your indoor décor. I love a stripe, especially blue and white. Blue and white striped pillows in our family rooms or on our window seats can lend a soft summer vibe to this month of August. And blue and white (and stripes) are utterly classic! Don’t think of them as too coastal…they are fresh and now and happy!
8) Throw an Outdoor Party. Fun, friends, family, food, outdoor fun…what could be better than a summer BBQ? String lights across your patio to make the evening festive and set up the battery-powered candles for no fuss and no worry. Set up tents in the yard for the little ones to explore and hide out in. Inaugurate your new fire pit. Maybe inaugurate a new BBQ grill (they are on sale too to make some room for the, ahem, snow blowers (low blow, sorry!) I find that just getting ready for a summer outdoor party puts me in an ultra-summer mood, even if the evenings are growing shorter. From a decorating perspective, you don’t need to be too elaborate. Invite them, they will come. Really, people don’t seem to entertain much anymore, and offering your deck or patio to grill some burgers and serving simple fare is a happy way to extend the season. Even if you can’t get your friends together until after Labor Day, have an outdoor party. Everyone is always around the weekend after Labor Day, right?
9) Fill your fireplace. To make summer last, fill your fireplace with more “coastal” elements—candles, lanterns, shells, and other reminders of the shore. Battery-operated candles are perfect for this purpose. And your house will look stunning when your guests are leaving your outdoor party (see tip #8) well after the sun has set, and your fireplace is aglow in candles. Here’s a link to some interesting fireplace ideas from DigsDigs.com.
10) Paint some furniture in white or light gray. There is still time to do a DIY project or two, like painting an old bench with fresh white chalk paint. Or, head out the September Brimfield Antiques Show in central Massachusetts (coming up soon – 4 to 9 September, 2018), and pick up a new piece to paint. The September Brimfield Show is always a delight. If you want to know more, here’s a link to my blog post from when I visited Brimfield last year.
Well that’s my wrap-up on 10 ideas to extend your summer feeling. Isn’t there some song to that effect? I hear music…oh, it’s coming from the portable speaker on my deck! It’s beautiful out there, gotta go!
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.