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Decorating Tips

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

April 19, 2011

Does a room in your home depress you? Do you dream of decorating it only to walk in, take a look around, and immediately leave feeling overwhelmed and in need of inspiration? When I crave motivation and ideas I head over to the decor8 Interior Styling group on Flickr which now has over 3,000 members. It’s interesting to browse through the hundreds of photos submitted to see what others are currently doing in their home to add personal touches, whether it is something inexpensive and simple like fresh flowers or more elaborate and expensive, like a newly purchased sofa. I also pull magazines and books out and start flipping through them like a mad woman, marking pages and making notes. It never ceases to amaze me how often the little things make such a huge impact on our home. I thought I’d share with you some images that inspire me from the Interior Styling group today along with 8 ways to spruce up your space because these tips really do work and I’d love it if you’d give a few of them a try! No need to feel depressed about an ugly room – you can do it!

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(Nicole Hill)

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

1. Create a mood board using photos of current things (snap photos, print them out) plus a few items you’d like to buy or make yourself. Again, take photos of what you have that could work in your new room scheme vs. focusing on buying all new things. Add everything to your board and give yourself about a week or two to walk by it, edit, add, remove, etc. By the end of the second week you should start to see a cohesive look and feel. Sketch out some room plan ideas and be sure to tack up images from magazines that catch your eye – whether it be how they styled a shelf to the drapes or wall colors that caught your eye. Make note of what you like. Add ribbons, fabric swatches, flowers, things that speak to you. Pay attention to the colors you’re responding to and write down thoughts as to how you want the room to look and feel and tack these to your board as well. If you have a stylish friend with great taste, invite them over to give you some ideas as to your room scheme – a second set of eyes is always good.

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(Machteld M)

2. Empty the room! That’s right, move everything out into the hallway or an adjacent room – take down drapes, remove art, roll up throw rugs, everything that can be removed should be removed. Yes this is drastic and though it’s not something I suggest doing every month, it is something that I suggest doing when you find yourself absolutely hating your room and find that no matter what you do to it, you still hate it. Once you have it stripped down to basic walls and floors, you have a brand new canvas to begin with. Start by cleaning the room and then paint it- either the current color (just a freshened up version) or a beautiful white, or perhaps add a few colors – paint one wall in a strong color and keep the others lighter, etc. Wallpaper can also be incorporated. This is a great time to fill holes in walls and make them as good as new.

3. Examine those floors (and ceilings)! Are they in bad condition? Consider refinishing the wood floors or painting them in striking high gloss gray, white or black. If you have carpeting and hate it, consider removing it (if you can). If you can’t remove the carpet then clean it well to remove stains and dirt. Don’t worry, when you decorate you can set the focal point elsewhere so the rug is barely noticeable. Make any repairs to floors. While you’re at it, give all moldings a fresh coat of paint as freshly painted moldings can make your flooring look better. Don’t forget to look up! If your ceiling needs attention, make repairs and give it a fresh coat of paint.

4. Thorough clean the room. Get all crazy up in that room and make it sparkle, you fearless decorator, you! Clean windows, flooring, walls, ceiling, corners, all of it. Put on your favorite tunes and get your booty movin’! A clean, fresh palette is the best for decorating.

5. Move only functional pieces back into the room first. Sofa, chairs, TV, things that you actually use and need. I find that by placing the functional pieces first, I have the key pieces in place and “out of the way” so I can play around more with the remaining pieces without performance anxiety. Try to arrange the room around a focal point. If your focal point is your television and you happen to watch it regularly, consider placing it within a wall unit or on a nice cabinet or perhaps against a wall that has beautiful wallpaper or a great paint color. You can also mount the flat screens to the wall, which I think look quite nice. Some add a “TV Cozy” to their television – you can easily make a TV screen slipcover in your favorite fabric OR use plain linen and keep it simple. A black television looks great against a black wall as it will disappear into the wall. If your television is not something you use regularly, consider placing it off to the side and create a new focal point – perhaps a fireplace mantle or a large dresser with drawers with a massive mirror above it or some art or plates. As you bring pieces back into the room examine them carefully – is the upholstery clean? Legs secure? Check out everything to ensure it’s in good shape and make repairs/clean as needed. You can even paint a tired table in a fresh new color or reupholster a chair seat in a favorite fabric with often very little – a piece of fabric, some padding and a staple gun. Get creative!

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(Holly Brooke Jones)
8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(Machteld M, Marimerveille Loves, Sasya, Dottie Angel)

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(gozde eker, compaicreative, Saídos da Concha, nest decorating)

6. Less is more! Edit! Organize! Make sure that you don’t move everything out of the room only to move it all back in again! No, no, no that’s just silly, right!? The goal here is to eliminate what you don’t need/like and keep only what you want and/or use and to make repairs and such. Editing is hard work, but your room will love you for it. Clever storage, such as magazine holders that are all in the same color/pattern, can look very clean and modern vs. mismatched holders or none at all. The best tip I have when it comes to organization is to have a place for everything – screws, keys, hammers, nails, tape, notepads, cables, lightbulbs, remote controls, magazines, paper clips, rubber bands, business cards, cleaning supplies – and put things back in their place after use, no excuses!

7. Consider the window treatments. Wash your drapes before you hang them up again and consider adding something to them – perhaps trim or hand embellish with sequins or hand stitch work. Add fancy tie-backs or hem your drapes if they are too long. If you know how why not try adding a blanket stitch edge to them – say in black if your drapes are white, for instance? Little details make a huge difference. If you are tired of your curtains, consider inexpensive blinds from a big box store or make your own. Sheets can double as roman blinds, curtains, you name it. If you have vinyl roller shades you can trim them in a favorite pattern or apply fabric to the shade itself to give them a custom look. There are PLENTY of books out there on how to make window treatments by hand and how to embellish blinds and curtains so have fun. You can even stitch together patches of fabric (fashion fabrics in cotton work best) or vintage scarves, the sky is the limit!

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(sweet berry me)

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(IDA Interior LifeStyle, Three Red Apples, lusummers, KristopherK)

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(jutta, sabine wittig, wood & wool stool, violeta)

8 Ideas To Spruce Up Your Space

(Marvin Maximilian)

8. Style it up! After you have your furniture back in the room, it’s time to decorate! When arranging your things (accessories, art, etc.) refer to your mood board and some of the clippings you tore from magazines. Notice arrangements in those rooms and try something similar if you are stuck or feeling uninspired. Add shelving above a sofa to display favorite things. Group art on a single wall. Use a gorgeous mirror above a table as a focal point. Visit a local store that is known for gorgeous visual displays, like Anthropologie or something like it, and be inspired by their arrangements and how simple most of them are. It’s really all about looking at things in different ways and intentionally seeking out alternate uses to things in your home that you may be tired of using as is. Have fun – in fact, decorating SHOULD be fun. Your home should be the one place on this planet where you ARE being yourself, sharing your inspirations and life story, adding your personal touch, etc. Enjoy the process!

What are some of your tips for decorating that you’d like to share? What do you do to spruce up YOUR space?

(images linked to their sources above.)






Decorating Tips

Mood Board To Go!

April 4, 2011

Hello friends! How are you today? Did you have a nice weekend? I got home from London and immediately went to a flea market here in my city and found some great loot (you can see it here). We had beautiful weather so I got a lot done and feel really refreshed as a result. What about you? Are you well?

I’m not sure if I ever shared with you how I shop when I’m on a mission to find the things that I need to work on a project. Some of you may find this approach helpful, especially if you’ve not tried it before. I’m currently planning a “look” along with Sania and Leslie for the Dining Room demo that we’re doing at Liberty London on April 13th at 6:30 p.m. for my book launch (come if you can!) and so I have a somewhat long punch list of things that I need to buy/work on this week. I can’t believe I only have this week left, but let’s not talk about that?! ha ha! Anyway, in addition to my punch list, I also have a mini mood board that is in my bag at all times — it’s in a spiral bound “to do” notebook that I picked up at HEMA. It’s nothing fancy AT ALL – in fact, it’s extremely easy to pull together, here’s a photo of it below.

Mood Board To Go!

As you can see, these are the fabrics, ribbons and such that we’re using as part of our table design. The shots of pink throughout provide a little healthy tension to give this palette a jolt of color which is refreshing because without the pink, it can almost go a bit too far into the neutral zone (and I love neutrals so it’s easy for me to do!). The green takes it up a notch as well. There is also some charcoal and deep gray (you can see that below in the next image). Thing is, pink is a funny color and it comes in a million shades like any other color — some with blue undertones, others with beige, and what your eye thinks is the correct pink is often not the correct pink when you come home and view what you bought alongside with what you thought it would match. A way to avoid returns or worse, buying things that don’t work and forgetting to return them so you amass clutter, is to simply bring a travel mood board with you – a mood board to go.

I cut tiny snippets of the key pieces that we’ll use and attached everything with small bits of tape and this serves as my reference as I’m out and about. Funny enough, when you go into a store and pull out something like this, you’ll not only invite conversation (people are so curious!) but you’ll get the help that you need most of the time from the sales people because they’ll almost treat you with a bit more respect because you appear to know what you’re doing (whether you or not is debatable I guess ha ha) and you can often get a lot farther with them when you’re asking for a particular color or style and you can SHOW them what you mean vs. trying to describe it as everyone sees color much differently. Have you ever tried explaining a color anyway? It’s quite a task. A mood board to go saves time and money and is exactly why I’ve been using them for over 10 years as a guide when I shop.

As you can see below, this is a shot I took using Sania’s camera of everything piled together in her inspiring craft loft when we were together in London — so I photographed it as well so I could keep this photo on my iPhone to serve as an additional reference for me as I’m out shopping.

Mood Board To Go!

And a big P.S. — London was amazing! I had such a great time there and spent 6 hours at Liberty on Thursday sorting out and photographing what we want to do with the table, choosing everything from chairs to linens to a proper table… And then we lunched at Flat Planet next door (I highly recommend) and then visited Muji, John Lewis and VV Rouleaux for some supplies, and then I was off to Chiswick where I stayed at the posh High Road House designed by the one and only Ilse Crawford and we ate at the private “members only” club there — it was so pretty. The next day, I walked to Sania’s beautiful brick Victorian home and spent the entire day with her — we had so much fun crafting and sorting out ideas for the demo and did what girls do best – chat and play with pretty bits and bobs. I could live in Chiswick in a second, I really felt at home there.

I can’t wait until next week when I can take photos of the tabletop and show you how we’ve translated what you see above into a pretty table for Spring. Stay tuned!

(images: holly becker for decor8)






Decorating Tips, Home Tours

Romantic German Home

March 28, 2011

Would you like to see romantic and sweet corners of a German home today? This inspiring space belongs to blogger Yvonne Bauer (aka Frl.Klein on Flickr) who is married with two daughters living outside of Munich. She likes to combine things that she finds at flea markets with brand new items from some of her favorite stores. She also loves flowers and ethnic touches along with products from Danish brand Tine K Home.

Romantic German Home

Yvonne also has antique furniture that was handed down to her husband from his family that she loves very much. She feels that the eclectic mix of everything living together, cozy, in one space makes for the perfect home. She does not consider her look to be of a certain style, though as an American living in Germany I think it’s representative of the country style that is clean, very white with modern lines, a touch of the ornate, lots of texture and an attention to detail that is prevalent in Scandinavian country styles with a touch of German country combined. Here in Germany we have tons of magazines catering to this style of decoration so it’s no wonder that Yvonne is inspired by books, magazines and blogs for visual eye candy. I don’t know if you’ve ever given much thought to which room in your home is your favorite but Yvonne views her most inspiring room as her kitchen because its the hub of activity and, “I love to cook and chill out there,” she says. From the looks of this table setting below, it’s obvious that she puts a great deal of love and care into meal planning and presentation which is so inspiring to me because I only wish I had the time to lay a table like this on a regular basis… It’s something I aspire to though – what about you?

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

Romantic German Home

To view more of her photos, please take a moment to visit her blog and Flickr page – both are filled with lovely inspiration for decorating!

(images: yvonne bauer)






Decorating Tips

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

March 25, 2011

Ready to see a lovely industrial chic loft in Buenos Aires, Argentina? Karina Manghi is a photographer (with an etsy shop) and blogger who authors site Le Blog Secret. Her loft has lots of bohemian elements to it as you will soon see. It’s a happy mix. It’s a home with a creative soul.

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Karina and her husband decorated the house around the idea of being industrial with a touch of chic that would accommodate their family and not be too fussy since they have kids and entertain their friends and family often. She said the hardest part, because her taste runs the gamut, was to edit as she decorated. I think that this is a issue many face, especially when you are mixing and matching and have a more eclectic sensibility.

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Some of her favorite prints look fresh and modern against that gorgeous vintage tile on the floor.

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Her son’s bedroom – love the giant batman!

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Her lovely daughter in their entryway, a festive welcoming with the fantastic assortment of colorful balloons! Nice idea for a party.

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

A quiet afternoon with mate tea…

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Karina’s bedroom – lovely quilt…

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

A simple way to display photos on a wall – tape! No frills! Let the images speak.

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Her daughter’s bedroom, complete with adorable dog and vintage bed found at a flea market!

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

A curious assortment of things.

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires
Her amazing closet. Drool. I love the polished concrete floors, they reflect so much light and illuminate the space beautifully, naturally.

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires
Don’t you love seeing her photographs taped onto that old green folding door? Pretty. And the lighting here is gorgeous. It reminds me of an old film…

Industrial Chic In Buenos Aires

Karina admits to not liking clutter but she does love to display illustrations from independent artist, beloved objects, her own photographs and those of others, her kids artwork, and travel souvenirs. Since she cannot fall back on a big box store like IKEA (there isn’t one there), she said she has had to find ways to be more creative and had built many affordable things by hiring a carpenter. She also hits flea markets for one of a kind vintage items.

Karina thank you so much for sharing your home with all of us today!

(images: karina manghi)






Decorating Tips

Corners of a Farmhouse

March 25, 2011

Are you a fan of farmhouse style? I find that depending on where you live in the world, this style can change which has a lot to do with local culture and what is available among other things. For instance, farmhouse style in America vs. farmhouse style in France or Sweden is somewhat different but they still share a golden thread that links them together — the love of vintage! Other similarities include soft colors (grays, blues and greens are popular), mixing in antiques, making lots of things by hand, and fresh flowers are usually in the mix.

Corners of a Farmhouse

Heather Anderson’s farmhouse in Michigan is more the American idea of farmhouse style which is quite popular and most who follow this style tend to be very creative and love to make things themselves to personalize it a bit. Heather has a gorgeous stream of photos on Flickr where I discovered her and fell in love with some of her DIY projects that I discovered over on her blog like this frame and this bunting. She also has a vintage goods shop over at Etsy. I asked Heather to send me her personal favorite photos of her home to share with decor8 readers – I have to say, she selected some beautiful views that provide for some great Friday inspiration. I also asked her a few questions about her home that I think you’ll enjoy…

What is the inspiration behind your style and how do you define it? I am inspired by farmhouse living. I love the simplicity and the lived in, loved in look. My style is fresh farmhouse with a dash of romance. I love a collected-over-time feel. No rules, just useful and beautiful. I stick with non-breakable, fuss-less items that don’t break the bank or my heart if my baby bears, I mean boys, get a hold of them.

Corners of a Farmhouse

Where do you find ideas and inspiration? With a wealth of blogs and magazines to read, it is not hard to find inspiration! However, my favorites come late at night when the house is (finally) quiet and I have time to just sit and imagine.

What do you love about your home? I
love that our home is in the country. I also love that it is open and airy (a must for long, dark Michigan winters). But my favorite part about our home is that we built it ourselves. It will probably never be “completely” finished, but what fun would that be? I love dreaming up our next project and renovating, decorating, re-decorating… It is humble, yet it is still the house of my dreams.

Corners of a Farmhouse

What makes a house feel like home to you? A house is a home when it is a reflection of you and filled with those you love. Decorating should be fun, not some standard that you have to live up to. It can happen very gradually over time. Layer upon layer, you find, collect, build, and it becomes a labor of love. That is what makes house a home.

Corners of a Farmhouse

Corners of a Farmhouse

Above: Bottles Heather spray painted in matte white paint to give them a chalky finish – I love these!

Corners of a Farmhouse

Heather’s home is filled with projects that she did herself. For instance, if you like the bunting in her kitchen shown (first image above), here is a terrific tutorial where she’ll show you how to make it! You can also learn how to make that terrific frame/message board that you see in the 2nd image above right here. Again, great ideas and a lovely lady who is being creative at home, keeping it real, and loving to decorate!

(images: heather anderson)






Decorating Tips, Home Tours

Corners of Home: From Bosnia With Love

March 24, 2011

What do you think about when you imagine how people are decorating in Sarajevo, Bosnia? Perhaps photographs of this gorgeous apartment in Sarajevo with decoration inspired by the city may give you a fresh impression. This apartment belongs to blogger Sabina Cudic who says, “This corner of the world has not been covered (in the world of decorating) and I hope this little submission serves to change that.” Yes, it will! In addition to her blog, Sabina teaches Political Science and International Relations at the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology. She is also an avid former competitive debater, is passionate about photography, fashion, interior decorating and of course politics and international affairs.

Corners of Home: From Bosnia With Love

I asked Sabina about the design scene in Bosnia and she wrote such a great reply that I didn’t want to water it down by revising it or turning it into my own words so I’ll let you read her reply. It’s fascinating!

About design in Bosnia: “Decorating resources in Bosnia are, as you can expect limited. There is not a single major/international furniture chain present (the closest IKEA is more than 400 kilometers away and majority of on-line shops shipping policies tend to avoid Bosnia), however I still wouldn’t consider it to be a deprivation – and would go as far as to argue that this type of “isolation” encourages organic creativity!” I have to agree with her on that point, having fewer options does lend to finding creative alternatives.

Corners of Home: From Bosnia With Love

About her apartment: “My boyfriend and I purchased a 60m2 apartment several months ago and having spent our entire budget on basic renovations, we are left with nothing more than creativity for decorations. This means that we used mostly our old furniture which we upholstered in new (and I have to admit, very cheap and sold by kilogram) natural and neutral fabrics. I purchased the doted fabric which we used for chairs on a major sale at an IKEA in Germany, together with other couple of decorating details which I could “smuggle” back to Sarajevo. Stubbornly setting my mind onto something also means that I sometimes spend an entire flight back home holding a lamp shade in my lap, or a ceramic deer that I cannot live without. This also means that on more than one occasion I chose “luxury” over necessity, clearly indicated by the fact that we still do not own a TV or furnished bedroom (Bosnians are known for, here and there, acting on emotions and not reason.) But it also encapsulates my home decorating policy of ensuring that we are surrounded by things we love and cherish and that necessities will eventually take care of themselves.” I like that as I can relate — it’s better to decorate with what you love than to just buy something for the sake of filling a room.

Corners of Home: From Bosnia With Love

Her decorating style: “The palette we chose for the apartment is neutral with decidedly white walls everywhere but in the bathroom which we cozied up with the shades of cream and gray and stone tiles. As the entire apartment is facing south and is on the eighth floor, we enjoy the enormous amount of sunlight and prefer serenity of whites, creams and natural wood, adorned with objects and pictures we collected over time, instead of explosion of colors.” To that I say, beige is not boring!

Corners of Home: From Bosnia With Love

What makes Sarajevo special: “There are several aspects that make home decorating in Sarajevo a pleasant challenge: there is a great number of extremely talented artisans whose work is unfortunately severely undervalued. Beautiful carpets and rugs, fabrics and upholstering, as well as hand made furniture are among the cheapest and least discovered in Europe. For those with a curious, patient and creative mind Sarajevo can be a heaven.”

Corners of Home: From Bosnia With Love

Where do you shop for the home in Bosnia?“There are several shops and artists whose work I would highly recommend: A nearly hundred year old family business called Rukotvorine from a small town of Konjic in Hercegovina and Artisan from an even smaller town of Tesanj. Rukotvorine’s work is rooted in Bosnian tradition – it’s sideboard called the Wave is poetry and needs to be felt by hand to be fully appreciated. Artisan is more influenced by the Dutch and Danish schools of design, and offers equally beautiful, Bosnian solid wood hand made pieces. There are of course plenty of other artist and designers whose work unfortunately cannot be found online.” It sounds like there are many untapped treasures there…

Corners of Home: From Bosnia With Love

Why does Sarajevo inspire you? For those with a less ambitious budget several antique stores offer a variety with an occasional true gem in a form of a beautiful carved wooden storage boxes, mid century pieces or glass kitchen cabinets. Naturally, peaking into elderly neighbors’ apartments can be equally exciting and a habit that Bosnians with their laid back neighborhood relations do not mind. This leads me to the ways in which this city inspires my decorating – Sarajevo is a place where friends and family knock on your door unannounced and the interiors often reflect that. Comfort, gracefulness, surrounding ourselves with people and objects that mean something to us and unpretentious entertaining is what inspires me in decorating and making sure that there is always an extra pillow and a blanket. Considering that my boyfriend is from Kosovo, I look forward to incorporating those cultural influences in our home. Having lived in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany I can also trace those aesthetics in my decoration daydreaming. So if and when in Sarajevo decor8 readers should feel free to wave and stop by, and perhaps we can give you a little tour!” Oh, how sweet you are, Sabina!

I don’t know about you dear readers, but I took so much away from this interview, but mainly the value of using what you have and appreciating what makes a house a home – family, friends and meaningful objects with meaning. Thank you Sabina for visiting us today!

(images: Sabina Cudic)






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