I remember spending my last pennies once on a few cheap decor items that I bought on Black Friday back in 2006 when I lived in my first apartment. I didn't even own a bed; I opted to keep sleeping on a hand-me-down couch from my Aunt Judy and spend my money on decorations instead. I'm not saying this was smart or practical, but I was completely fine with being able to look at my pretty wall hangings while only being able to afford eating fettuccine and lima beans (my cheap meal of choice back when I was 22. Now I look at carbs and gain 5 lbs).
Thinking back, these weren't great decorations but they made me feel like I lived in slightly more than a noisy white box in Phoenixville, PA. They made me happy, all things considered, and that's exactly what your home should do when you walk into it. It should be your sanctuary and should put a smile on your face from the time you open the door.
So, how does the average person achieve this, especially on a budget? Here are a few guiding principles I have applied when creating my happy spaces. A few of the numbers on the list will have their own blog posts coming later this week where I go a bit more in depth on them!
1) Find your zen
Look through pictures of other interior spaces. What do you love? What do you hate? Figure out those common themes to help narrow down your style. Also take a look at your approach to your own space. Do shoes laying around in your entryway really bug you? Do you find yourself eating in your living room despite that gorgeous dining table you have? Be honest about the realities of how the room will be used.
Don't necessarily set your home up to be 24/7 guest-ready when you know that only accounts for 5 days out of 365 every year. Conversely, if you always find yourself constantly entertaining, then set up a space that is perfectly conducive to that. Find your zen by figuring out what elements of the space, both visually and practically speaking, will fit your needs and use those must-haves as a starting point.
2) Re-design Ready
Do you get bored of your space after a year or two? Create a room that can be easily updated or changed without spending an arm and a leg. Focus on having your accent colors appear in the form of pillows, wall hangings, curtains, and table top decor. These are all easily changeable and you won't break the bank when you go to mix up the space in the future.
Invest in a neutral sofa for a living area and make sure your wall color can fit with a variety of accent colors. Then you can have a whole new room when you get bored of your space for a fraction of the cost! See this same room 4 different ways:
3) Symmetry and Balance
When in doubt, decorate symmetrically. What you do to one side, do to the other. Matching end tables, matching lamps, etc. There are other ways to add this same balance to a space, but symmetry is a great way to just make a crisp, clean, happy room. Add in a variety of textures and a pop or two of color to help it from feeling like a showroom!
The picture of the pink and yellow pillow room shows 'symmetry', the black and white room achieves 'balance' without necessarily being symmetrical. 'Balance' is much harder to define, but I'm sure there are some complex math equations that make it all make sense in the universe. I am no mathematician, but I am a resident expert on pretty things.
4) Pops of color
You love pink and green, but don't want the place to look like a sorority house. Yes, this IS possible. And you can even make it look *gasp* masculine. It's all about the details and execution.
So, an easy rule of thumb for using color is to first pick your main color and then pick your complementary color. And then lots and lots of neutrals to keep it from looking like a circus. There's a lot that needs to be considered when mixing colors and we will go into that in another post. But again, for the pink and green idea, check out the images below to see that the details matter but there is more than one way to execute it!
5) Find one thing you love and build the room around it
Can't get that painting out of your head? Obsessed with a huge Venetian style mirror? I don't think it's crazy at all to find a piece that you just can't live without, make it the focal point, and add things in that fit well with it.
Decorating should really be about spaces that make you feel happy, relaxed, inspired, energized... whatever the use of the room is, you should get that vibe from all of the pieces you put in it. Now go forth and decorate!