My first thought after buying our house was, “What is our plan of attack for designing it to feel like home?” While home buying can be daunting, the home design process quickly turn the tables back to fun. There is no doubt it is overwhelming standing in the middle of a new home imagining what you want everything to look like and how your new home should feel. I remember day one walking through our front door into what would be our family room – vaulted ceilings, sunlight pouring through the skylights, beautiful hickory wood floors – and suddenly a million furniture scenarios circled my brain. Where would our couch go? Actually what couch….we need a new one! But what kind, what style, what fabric, what color?
What I’ve learned is not everything will be completed, purchased and set up all at once. Turning a house into a home genuinely takes time. I’ve spent some time thinking about our personal approach to decorating our home and what specific things to keep in mind + what steps to take in doing so.
(1) Discover your Personal Style & Aesthetic – And Run With It
Truth be told, I am still discovering what my particular style is. Before furniture buying and vision boards, I took note of trends in design magazines and photos I was pinning to help uncover what design elements and specific looks I was drawn to. My design style is predominantly mid-century modern – characterized by simplicity, functionality, natural shapes and neutral shades. I’m also drawn to rustic elements – that rugged, natural beauty – consisting of nature-inspired textiles and early colors. Something to note – throughout my 28 years of living, I’ve often played it safe, stayed within the lines, semi-fearful of the unknown. This in turn has instilled a bit of thrill-seeker mentality into my personality (My goal is to remain open to all experiences, even the scary ones…my husband is still convincing me to bungee jump – stayed tuned!). Why is this relevant? A goal of mine is to incorporate the unexpected in some areas of our home. This is what I would call an eclectic approach – a sense of imagination and surprise with unexpected contrasts in color, pattern, texture. If you veer outside the lines – both in life and design – you may surprise yourself.
(2) Create a Clear Vision before Shop & Purchase
This is a double edged sword in some cases. I have a bad case of paralysis by analysis – overthinking home purchases, sometimes as far as no decision taking place. It took me a good 4 hours before pulling the trigger on our bed frame…and then our mattress…and then our couch…the list goes on and on. To combat this, I’ve learned to create a vision for whatever space I’m working on and commit to purchasing items I’m excited about. Before purchasing anything I make sure to measure, tape out layout and build a vision board to help see how all the elements play together. Shopping for a home is exciting, but it is crucial to do your research – I will be the first to tell you that furniture is not cheap. Take all factors into consideration: color, pattern, function, comfort, style, longevity, space, etc. This is where my paralysis by analysis stems from – decisions, decisions!
(3) Start with Big Ticket Items to Help Shape the Design
We were unique in that we did not keep any furniture from our apartment, so literally started from scratch. While this is incredibly exciting, it is also expensive, overwhelming and time-consuming. Very few complaints here – searching high and low for the perfect piece of furniture, bookshelf/mantle accessory, indoor planter fuels my passion for design. When working with a blank canvas as large as a new house, my advice would be to start with big ticket items (i.e. corner sectional, built in bookshelf, kitchen table, bed frame, dresser) to help shape the overarching look and feel of each room. While these items are typically the most expensive, in many cases they will also get the most use so invest wisely. We came very close to purchasing an exact look-a-like of our Crate & Barrel corner sectional on an e-retailer where the return policy was limited. The factors we took into consideration before purchasing: sitting on actual couch to test both comfort and see the color in real life, good return policy, and finally understanding that a couch we’d be sitting on everyday required longevity. My main takeaway here is first understand the space, let it speak to you and then plot out top priority purchases.
(4) One Room at a Time
When we moved in 3 months ago, the excitement quickly fogged practicality. Boxes scattered everywhere, not one room fully functioning, sleeping in the guest room, squished on the only piece of furniture we had – a two person love seat. As you could imagine, I hadn’t developed an organized plan of attack – I was unpacking little by little, one room to another for the first two weeks. The dynamic shifted when I chose to focus on one room at a time. Corey disagrees with me on this – the approach he stands by is investing in one piece at a time regardless of what room its in based on need (i.e. we needed a kitchen table to eat, a bed to sleep on, a couch to sit on – these 3 being a few of our first purchases). He absolutely has a point and is correct – this is how we’ve approached it thus far. My focus of one room at a time is now from a design standpoint. We have great starting points in various rooms and before buying décor accessories, my goal is to pin more inspiration and clearly outline the aesthetic and feeling of comfort + cozy I am working to achieve. My latest jaunt to Home Goods was an epic failure (I always find something when I go there!) all because I did not clearly distinguish what I was looking for and what space I was working on. From here on out, I am working to complete one room at a time and build from there. My goal is to complete our master bedroom – we’re keeping the vibe very serene and calming, neutral color palette and no clutter. On the hunt for a chaise, framed photos/art for the walls, aloe vera indoor plant for nightstand, décor accessories for dresser, round mirror above dresser.
(5) Liven up your Space with Plants and Art
My obsession with indoor plants has reached an all time high since becoming a home owner. We’re lucky to have multiple sky lights and vaulted ceilings, giving our house incredible natural light. I did a ton of research on the health benefits of indoor plants, which houseplants are easy to maintain and care for, which require natural light, etc. Having plants around make me feel better – I love being surrounded by greenery. Research shows houseplants decrease stress levels, scrub air pollutants, increase creativity and concentration and add oxygen at night. I’ve made it my mission to add as many houseplants as I can to our home (especially ones that are easy to maintain – croton, snake plant, ZZ plant, philodendron, rubber tree and ficus pandurata). Corey has challenged me on how long the two plants we’ve bought so far will stay alive…I will prove I have somewhat of a green thumb! Another sure way to add personality, color and liveliness to a home is framed art and photography on the walls. We have several blank spaces I’d love to fill – all in due time. First up is the blank wall perpendicular to our custom wood made kitchen table. I am a big fan of abstract art – art that requires imagination and interpretation. Where do you purchase art? I’ve been looking a lot at Minted, but could use some more recommendations. Bring them on!
The home design journey has been so fulfilling so far and I can’t wait to share the progress of #humphreyshousehold with you. The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is the existence of a house is not to achieve perfection – it is to create something much more – a place of comfort, family and love…a home.