Scared of a renovation project? Still staring at your plain bookshelves? How long have those paint samples been on the wall? I know that decor and home styling can be daunting if it just doesn’t come naturally to you. So I’m here with how to design your home when you have no idea what you’re doing.
Design advice is by far the most frequent question I receive, and part of the reason that Paula Rallis Home exists. While we love renovating homes, we only renovate and design those that we own ourselves. When I opened PR Home I wanted others to be able to walk in and grab a piece that I had hand-selected and help curate the collection inside of your home. While design is my passion, I know that it can be frustrating looking at a renovation project, home build or a house in need of a design refresh and have no idea what you’re doing. So I am going to walk you through my process for designing and styling all of my projects.
A simple app that I’m sure is already at your disposal is Pinterest, and a great place to start. While I pull my inspiration mostly from travel, Pinterest is still a tool to help organize my thoughts and see everything on one page. I am constantly scrolling when I have time, and seeing what new ideas I can incorporate into flips. You can follow all of my boards and ideas here.
As examples, I have started six new boards that each incorporate a piece of my personal style – French chic, surf shack, minimalist, eclectic, midcentury, and dark and moody. Don’t worry if you can’t quite identify your style yet, that’s step one.
Step one: Identifying your Style
When you pick out something – anything – what do you gravitate towards? In art, clothing, even the blogs or magazines you read, what do you stare at longer, what pages do you rip out? For a week, try to accumulate what draws you in and then see if there is a connecting factor. Color? Shapes? Clean and simple or lots of pops? Look through your closet and see the trends. Where are your favorite places to travel? Favorite boutique hotel? Who is your style icon? Below I have listed a few of my favorites along with coordinating decor. Most importantly, take your time with this. Don’t walk into your friend’s house, decide that you like it and immediately paint your walls the same color, order the same light fixtures and buy her couch. Just because no one has done it yet doesn’t make it wrong. It makes it freaking original and we could all use a little more of that. Don’t copy, try your hand at creating and see what happens. If it’s truly your style, you’ll never get sick of it.
Step two: Vision boards.
Similar to these I have done above, throw all of your ideas together whether it’s on a Pinterest board, on your desk or on the floor put all of your thoughts in one place. Once you do, you might realize that certain things aren’t mixing. If your eye keeps going in a certain direction and it’s not settling well, then get rid of that photo. Below are the vision boards for all of my different styles. While I love and appreciate all of these different looks, you can’t just throw them all into the same house. You have to decide what flows and what you want your overall look to be. So when it comes to all of these, you can appreciate but then you have to pick and choose.
Step three: Live with it first.
I am a huge fan of living with something before making a decision. Fabrics, wallpapers and paint colors all come in samples for a reason. Tape it up, paint it up, and lay it over your couch – live with it in your space before you make a commitment. Wallpaper may look great online, or even in the store, but once you cover all of your laundry room walls and realize that there are no windows in your laundry room it now looks too dark and completely different. Paint colors will never look the same in any home. Your lighting, floors, reflections, everything is different from space to space so you have to make sure you love it and it’s coming off as what you thought it would. Grab a piece of the backsplash tile you’re thinking about using and lay it against the wall where it will go. Stare at it for a week or two. Also, tape it out. Not sure about furniture or rug dimensions? Use painters tape and “draw” it out in on the floor. Then try to walk around it and live with the room the pieces will take up before making your purchase.
Step four: Big pieces to start.
Decide what you’re statement pieces are going to be in each room, as well as the biggest pieces in the space – then build around it. If the couch is going to be the largest piece in your living room, or a floor to ceiling mirror in the hallway, get that in there first. Then you can add your accent chairs, throws, pillows, artwork, etc. If there is a generational piece that needs to go in your home, see where it fits best and then build around it. And by all means, please do not be scared to sand, paint, and recover your grandmother’s furniture. It will not change the memory it will just help it become yours.
Step five: Accessories.
DO NOT make one trip to Home Goods and try to style your entire home in one day. Stop it. Just because you have a day off does not mean your house is an eight-hour task. As slow of a process as it can be, take your time to style your decor. This is the fun part. Slowly add in your travel finds, your heirlooms, the coffee table book you discovered in that corner shop in Brooklyn, photos of your family, all of it. If you put it all on a shelf and you’re not happy then take it all down and start over. Each time I am in PR Home I strip all of our shelves and restyle them. Everything goes on the table and I start from scratch. Don’t be afraid of the creative blank slate.
I hope this gives you a starting point when you are designing your hope and have no idea what to do first! I am always available for more home decor questions and we now offer full design services through Paula Rallis Home. Happy planning!