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Design star lessons you can actually live with

couch pillowsI’m a huge HGTV fan and love reading magazines like HGTV Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, you name it. And while I do sometimes get some unrealistic ideas from them (I still have yet to reupholster that garage sale rocking chair I was so excited about when I bought it), for the most part, I’ve learned some surprisingly down to earth tips from the designers on these shows and in these magazines that are totally doable.

Some of my favorite design lessons you can actually live with?

Mixing Is Good

Old and new…high and low…patterns and textures. I used to think that “style” meant having everything all matchy-matchy and following one specific “look” (traditional, contemporary, etc.).

But some of the coolest rooms I’ve seen by the pros are the ones that don’t have any one style but are a mixmash of several different things. Vintage pieces and world travel finds combined with modern line furniture. Rough earthy fabrics combined with super feminine patterns. It gives a room a real personality and makes it totally one of a kind.

Decorate Over Time

Especially as a new homeowner, you want to get everything “just so” in time for your first house party and think that means your decorating is done. But real decorating evolves over time…you add a piece here, take out a piece there, move this item from one room to another.

Our lives don’t stay frozen in time, so our homes shouldn’t, either. They should grow with us. I’ve changed up parts of our home a dozen times since we first moved in, and every time I change something, I like it even better.

“Lived In” is OK

I am so guilty of the “make it looks like it does in a magazine” fantasy. I like to have all the pillows on my sofa lined up just so. I’d prefer the countertop never have any dirty dishes or mail on it and the furniture never have any scratches or scuffs. (Part of that is my neat freak OCD, hahaha.)

But so many designers lately are saying how important it is that a house look lived in. The Hubby and I still have a lot of hand-me-down furniture from relatives because we just didn’t have the money when we moved in to buy all new stuff…and we’ve made it work for us. Our living room may never look like a show room, but it looks comfortable and cozy and homey…and that’s what I really want to come home to at the end of the day, not a “perfect” generic show room

What about you? What design rules do you like because you can actually live with them? (And which do you think are ridiculous?) :)

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit: ooh_food

Gardening ideas

Petunia 'Wave'My green thumb is starting to get itchy.

When we moved into our house several years ago, the front yard was in decent enough shape. I didn’t love the landscaping, but it was neat and tidy (a few shrubs on each side of the front stoop, with flowers between them), and we had so much work to do inside the house that I just stuck with it.

But this year, as I’m watching our neighbors dig up their flowerbeds and plant new things, I’m starting to get antsy to make the front yard really “ours.” I’m not sure exactly what I’m envisioning, but I’m thinking maybe some window boxes, flowers along the walkway, and painting the front door a different color. I also know I want it to be bright and cheery…yellows, pinks, maybe some sky blues.

A big consideration in terms of what flowers we choose is that our house faces the south, so the front yard is constantly under full sun all day long. I’m learning gardening as I go, and I don’t want to pick out any flowers that will wilt under too much sun. I’m good about watering after work if things are starting to look dry, but even with regular watering, some flowers just aren’t meant for too much sun.

What flowers do you have in your garden? Which do you think might work well for mine?

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit:  Vincent Ma

Cheap and easy ways to totally revamp your rooms

I love home decorating.  I have so many HGTV shows on my DVR that if I ever get sick for two weeks straight, I will not run out of ways to amuse myself.

But one thing I don’t love about most of the inspiring and creative redecorating tips I learn from these shows is that they’re either way too complicated, way too expensive, or both.

We don’t really have the budget to make a screen print of our favorite pics to wallpaper our bedroom.  (Although how cool would that be?)  And although we’re pretty handy and happy to take on DIY projects, we’re never going to take branches from the trees in our backyard, spray paint them silver, and make a funky dining room chandelier out of them.  (Plus if we did, I’m pretty sure we’d do something wrong with the spray paint and the whole thing would be one big fire hazard.)

So, what’s a wannabe renovator to do if she wants to change up her rooms but doesn’t have a huge budget or a whole team of handymen on her side?  Here are some of my favorite ways to mix up the vibe of a room without breaking the bank:

Color switch

One way I love to freshen up the feel of my living room is by changing out some of the accessories each season.  You can go on etsy and find some great throw pillow covers (or make them yourself if you’re handy), and with one quick switch, you can go from bright pink and yellow pillows on your sofa in the summer to brown and teal ones for the winter.

Obviously you can’t have too many wacky prints in your room for this to work.  It’s best to keep the big pieces of your room neutral to make switches easy (or buy slipcovers so you can change out the color of the furniture, too!)

You can also change out room accessories like vases, figurines, and pictures to give the room a different tone each season.

Do the duvet!

The main reason we bought a duvet insert with a cover instead of a regular fluffy comforter was because I can’t fit a comforter in our washer/dryer, and I hate going to the Laundromat.  But it turned out to be a great decorating decision, too, because now I have two different covers—a bright, cheery one for the spring and summer and a slightly darker one for the fall and winter.

I picked up the darker one on sale at one of my daily deals sites for nearly 75% off, and it matches everything else in our room just as well as the light cover does.  You get so used to seeing the same thing when you walk into your rooms, so having a big item like the bed change now and then makes the room seem completely new.

Flowers (fresh or otherwise)

I’m a nature girl myself, so I always prefer the real thing.  But if you’re allergic or it’s not worth the expense for you (remember we all have our own little luxuries), there are actually lots of high-quality fakes out there that are just as convincing unless you go right up and stare at them.

Flowers are a super-easy way to revamp your room.  I personally love going with whatever colors are in season so the room always feels like it’s changing with the year.

Switch up your feng shui

Nothing gives a room a new feel like rearranging the way the furniture is grouped.  Have you ever watched HGTV’s Design on a Dime?  My favorite part of that show is when they redo someone’s room only by using things they already have in their house.  They’ll bring in a chair from the den, a floor lamp from the bedroom, turn the throw from the back of the couch into a piece of art by hanging it on the wall, and voila!  The room looks totally different, and they haven’t spent a dime.

I love the creativity behind this so much I’m always looking for ways to switch up my own stuff.  This really confuses the poor Hubby, because he doesn’t really notice small change—until one day he goes to turn off the lamp in the den and doesn’t understand why the switch isn’t at arm’s length anymore.  (It’s because I switched it with the lamp in the living room.  Redecorating and some amusement for me!  Heehee…)

Mmmm…baking cookies…

One thing I think a lot of people overlook when considering the feel of their rooms is scents.  Using different candles or oil diffusers (which I love because you plug them in and forget them) can really change the way you experience a room.

Want your room to feel cozy and homey?  Try scents like vanilla cake, chocolate chip cookies, or fresh linen.  Seasonal scents like spring flowers, cinnamon and spice, or evergreen can get you in a holiday mood.  I have a collection of scents based on certain feelings I want to inspire.  If I’m feeling kind of blah, “fresh-cut grass” always perks me up.  If I’m stressed out, lavender makes me feel calmer right away.

(The Hubby would like me to point out here that I will not allow him to get a bacon candle.  And I would like to point out that if he ever wants to make that man cave in the basement or garage he’s always talked about, he is welcome to have a bacon candle there.)  :)

What DIY tips have you discovered for giving your rooms a quick “makeover”?

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit:  gorgeoux