I get asked quite a bit about how I put my home together, decorate, source decor items, and mostly where I pull inspiration. When I start putting a room together, my mind first goes to how I want this room to feel. It’s all about the emotion of the space for me, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m never “done” with a room. My ultimate goal is to achieve the look of a well-loved home that speaks to me, not brand new or perfect, but a space I am comfortable in and where my guests also feel the warmth and inviting feeling of my home. Often we are inundated with ideas from social media and glossy magazines, which offer up, at times, unrealistic views and myriad tips of a decorated home. You can follow all the guidelines and recommendations on the layout of a room according to dimensions and trends, but we often overlook how a space meets our emotional needs. I’ve discussed this idea before here on the blog and over on the podcast.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love magazines and Instagram, and I can get lost in the rabbit hole, also known as Pinterest, for hours on end. These are all excellent places for finding inspiration for creating or changing the look of a room, and, more so for me, they are places for gathering ideas to source items. I have never been the type of person who buys the whole look from one store. To me, that’s the fun and artistry of putting a look together—things from here and there, mixing old and new.
I wanted to share my method to help you create spaces that I hope will speak to you. We all know that every room usually has a primary function, which must be an essential factor to consider as you get started; however, it’s also important to remember how you want to feel in the space. Color, light, and space organization are what I consider my three pillars of design. When I first walk into a room and begin collecting thoughts, my first decision is color. I put paint to emotion in just about every decor decision I make. How do specific colors make me feel? Does it bring me a sense of calm, say for a bedroom or living room, like a light blue or white. For a den or office, if you want a cozy area to focus and read, I might consider a mix of dark and light colors.
Color choices are personal, and you probably know your favorite colors. Mine are blue and pink. If you walk from room to room in the farmhouse, you’ll find some shade of blue and pink, and that’s because those colors in varying shades make me feel content, settled, and happy.
I then move on to what furniture and decor items I have on hand and what I need to source to fill the gaps to fully utilize the room in a way that makes me feel good. The emotion and feelings at this stage revolve around more or less. And for me, this is a very different concept room by room. I like less decor in bedrooms but crave more pieces in my living room and dining areas. And remember, as I walk through this concept, this may be very different for you.
Lighting is so important, a lamp can change the mood of a room as soon as you turn it on, and the type of window treatments you choose will impact how you get natural light into the space and add textures and colors.
I’ll use my living room as an example; it was the first room I started after buying the farmhouse. It was my biggest challenge and remains unfinished today, with a few projects to tackle. I immediately knew I wanted it to feel like I was in a library or sitting room somewhere in an old English manor. The original hand-sewn beam ceilings are reminiscent of a Cotswold cottage and provide inherent warmth, helping this room feel very intimate and cozy. It was going to have to serve multipurpose functions too. A place to relax with coffee or cocktails, an area to binge Netflix, and a space for my large table to gather for meals. The ultimate relaxing room!
I knew I wanted to paint the walls white to calm the size of the space, which allowed me to think clearly about my design direction. Doing the walls in a soft white also permitted me to add more color and texture to furniture, decor, and window treatments to bring balance to the warmth of the ceilings. I knew for sure that I was going to add blue, and it was going to be a rich blue. Adding the extra-long floor-to-ceiling velvet blue draperies is an elegant complement to the ceilings and walls, giving me the drama and texture to balance the white walls.
The room was initially overwhelming, so I decided to arrange the furniture in designated areas of use. I created an intimate seating area, another spot dedicated to TV watching, and saved the most prominent location for the dining room. So now, when I walk in the room, I feel a sense of calm; it looks organized and pulled together based on how we use each area. While this room is “mostly done,” I have some fun projects planned that I know will bring me further joy!
So, how do your rooms make you feel when you walk into them? I invite you to walk into the room or rooms where you might not be getting all the right “feels” and ask yourself does it have the colors that bring me joy? Does it have too much or too little in the room? And last but not least, are you getting enough light, whether day or early evening?
Make sure you head over to Instagram and drop me a comment on this subject @farmhousenewengland
The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
― Maya Angelou