Decorating Ideas + Ist Option

December 24, 2010

I wrote about London locations company 1st Option today over at Real Simple, though as I scoured their website I started to think about why some of my favorite rooms in their portfolio worked and so I thought I’d share a few quick decorating tips along with their gorgeous locations… One thing I have learned over the years is to dissect everything and really ask yourself WHY? a lot when it comes to what you naturally are drawn towards.

Decorating Ideas + Ist Option

Why does this work? What do you like?

Decorating Ideas + Ist Option

If this appeals to you, what exactly lures you in? The mirror? The many tones of white? Do you simply like the no-frills feel? Maybe it is old books that you love? Is it the white walls and floors?

Decorating Ideas + Ist Option

Decorating Ideas + Ist Option

Decorating Ideas + Ist Option

I try to avoid rushing through magazines and blogs but instead, I take time to really look at the images that attract me. I think about what exactly is pulling me in, and I ask, Why does this or that work? I made little notes above on these images to illustrate my point. After looking at them I was able to pinpoint why these arrangements appealed to me. I also ask when viewing images that I like, What do I like about it? Why is the room appealing? And if I cannot seem to figure it out I won’t let myself walk away until I’ve identified exactly what drew me to it in the first place. This type of thinking if very active and “in touch” — I don’t do it every single time I pull out my favorite magazine (I often zone out and relax without thinking much as I look at images, too), but spending extra time to really pick apart what you love is so rewarding in the end because you train your eye, figure out your taste and style, and learn a lot about yourself in general but also about interior decorating and what themes or objects that you see repeated in some of the best rooms that designers are using today — and then you can try doing something like it in your own home.

We learn through observation and also through imitating what we see — it starts when we are infants and we watch our parents, often copying their behavior — but after some time, we mature and desire to no longer copy but to try to make something we saw personal to us or to improve it somehow. That is always the goal when we find inspiration — to either figure out how we can do something similar but with our own personality in the mix or how we can change it up a bit (or completely) and make what we saw even better in our own eyes.

Do you like to pick rooms apart and figure out what works, too?

(images: 1st option)


  • Reply Candy from Candied Fabrics December 24, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    This is excellent advice Holly, and a very similar process to how I developed my voice as an artist! Years ago, I was stressed because I wanted to have a style that was unique to ME, and untrained in the visual arts, I had no idea how to go about it! I spent years devouring visuals, and thinking about what I really liked or didn’t like about that particular thing, and I’ve slowly developed an aesthetic that is mine – and is apparent in my work! I’ve lately been pondering how I got to where I am and realized that it was through this process of looking and evaluating what I saw, over and over again.

    Happy Holidays Holly! :-)

  • Reply Mikkili.com December 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Beautiful all those stylish shades off white. Merry Christmas

  • Reply jenn December 24, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    This is such a great point. Really looking at images and figuring out what I love about a room is something I’ve been trying to do over the last couple months. It’s still a little hard for me, but I think it’s really helped me have a more discerning eye, and helped me better define my own style.

  • Reply A Plum By Any Other Name December 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Love those antlers! Not sure if it’s because it’s around Christmas … but I’m feeling like I need to get myself some!

  • Reply christina December 24, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I love this reminder to actively think about the design. You really do learn so much about your own style while gaining lots of inspiration. I absolutely love mixing different types of wood and the way white on white features the textures of different pieces…this post makes me want to whitewash everything ;)

  • Reply iam_artisan December 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    great advice… been wanting to redecorate my room and studio… can’t decide how… =)

  • Reply Stephanie December 24, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Good observations! I came to similar conclusions on my own & I tell that to friends seeking advice on decorating. I love that first room for the stacked wood in the nook (or fireplace, can’t tell) and how it works in unison with the other warm tones in the room.

  • Reply christy December 24, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I have collected hundreds of interior design photos… and it’s funny that you posted about this… because I have just recently started to look at those images as a whole… What is common about all of them? What is the style? What is in almost all of them?

    For me… varying hues of whites and browns, coastal and cottage themes… simple materials, clean, uncluttered, rustic… candles, mirrors, nature, baskets, books, welcoming… They make me sigh when I look at them… They reflect who I am or want to be… free, simple, relaxed, at peace…

    Happy Holidays!

  • Reply Sarah December 25, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Holly: I love this post – it is something I need to do more of…really look at a photo and see what I like. I know when I get magazines, if I really love a designer’s work, I go back constantly to the article and really look at every picture closely. So, I guess I do this without even knowing it, but you are right, the same goes with blogs too! thank you.

  • Reply vosgesparis December 26, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Great post.. I can look for several time at images and sometimes I get totally lost in it.. I do not really wait till I found what is appealing to me.. Instead of that I lay it often open on the little tables I have around the house.. pick it up now nd then aor just simply walk past it for days..

    But somehow I can make the click what I like and remember it afterwards and even see how it should work at my own home ;) Most of the times I think in pictures when making plans for new rooms/walls or simple mis en scenes ;)

  • Reply indian yarn December 27, 2010 at 1:55 am

    i have used many shades of white in my house, but it is not warm. i am thinking what has gone wrong and it is a east facing room.

  • Reply Kate December 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I have always loved to have a place full of white all over and different shades of white always give the whole place some form of texture, in my humble opinion.

    It’s like some form of layering and patterning even to a certain extent. Very calming to look at.

    I figure a room of white provides a blank canvas for me to start working on. I’m not very organised when it comes to decorating. I tend to buy whatever I like and put them all together in a mish-mash sort of way and this method has worked for me so far.

    Thanks for sharing your tips on decorating. :) I enjoy all your posts!


  • Reply Ragan December 31, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I have found it helps people to look at photos of their own rooms, especially on a computer. The photos help them to see the rooms more objectively and see the rooms more as visitors see them. This is great for seeing the clutter people normally don’t see.

  • Reply michelle January 1, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I love this post…not only is it insightful in general about decorating with white, the one this that stood out to me was “white can be warm if you use many shades of it”. Great advice, ans something I’d never thought of!
    Happy New Year!

  • Reply Andrea January 2, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Image 2 – it’s the whites, the stripped paint, the timber, leather & glass combination. But more than that, it’s the signs of life and the sense of history. I love the whites – just can’t for the life of me figure out how they never end up in my house?

  • Reply kalanicut January 3, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Needed to hear this as I’m going through the redo of the main living space now that holiday decor is all put away. Everything feels fresh for a re-org and renew. With a new couch coming soon I feel a big desire to move everything around and see my decor from new angles and spaces.

    I need to slow down and really see what it is that draws me to all the magazines I’ve marked, the sheets I’ve torn and the feeling I’m seeking. There are definitely questions I need to ask myself. Thank you for putting those ideas into my head today. :)

  • Reply Saioa January 18, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    For the amount of images we see daily, we never stopped more than 10 seconds each. I think it’s a good exercise to stop in which catch your attention, observe and study it, and get an idea, a feeling or a smile.

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