PSSSST...I'm no longer blogging here!
Like it or Love it?
You can now find me at
Like it or Love it?
How about walking with me thru my designing process? It won't hurt. With the new year comes that urge to start getting rooms in order....a never-ending
ordeal journey of self-discovery in which I overload on inspiration images because I've wiped out the city's entire library interior decorating section.
Now that I have this butt-load of books, I thought I'd document for you guys how I'm training my eye and defining my style. I'm looking for ideas for my bedroom and for the family room where the tree stood. So firstly, I get that in my big brain. It's ok to look at all the pretty pictures, but don't dwell too long on pictures of kitchens....see? Then I gather the usual suspects (except for the glasses, which are a newer suspect):
Also important are comfy pj's, poofy pillows, a couple graham crackers, and a big black dog all thrown together in a jumble on the bed. Now we can really begin.
I actually wrote out the following questions on sticky notes to keep me focused:
See, these help me bring some kind of order to the willy-nilly conglomeration of pictures I find appealing. I've mentioned before that when you like lots of styles, and throw them all together in your home it's called Eclectic Chic.....and sometimes that works ok. Other times it looks more like the Early Parent's Attic Motif, and that can sorta start to feel scatterbrained and well, willy-nilly. I'm looking for a common thread through-out my house. So here's what I do next:
I take a picture of the book cover and say the following images are from this book:
Then I dig in. Uh oh, not good. I've already fallen for the first shot.
As I make my way thru the pages, I ask myself these questions too. Why did I stop? What caught my attention? Is it just a lovely grouping? Is there something specific that reached out to me? These are soooo important to answer. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is learning to hear your heart and spirit. It can also be hard work. Darn it.
Before my foray into home blogs, I used to quickly flip thru my magazines and rip out any page that struck me...or mark pages in books with tabs like this:
Sometimes I write down specifically what caught my eye, but mostly I did it quickly, without stopping for air. Then I'd go back over all the shots and try to find a common thread...were they all green rooms? Was all the furniture chippy? Were there donuts on the counter?
I do this with my friends too, who ask for my help in decorating their rooms. It also gives me a feel for their style, because low and behold, not everyone likes a worn cottage look. I know, weird.
Anyway, if I can name something immediately, or if I'm already sure I LOVE something, I write it down on one of my stickie-wickies.
This method works, is fairly low stress, and is often a good place to start in defining what you generally like and don't like. But I'm to a place where I'm going to have to say no to some of the 'likes' in order to say yes to my 'loves'.
Hmmm, I think I'll type that again:
I going to have to say no to some of the 'likes' in order to say yes to my 'loves'.
This is where it gets tricky. It's also where I re-remind my mommy brain of the questions I first posed at the beginning of this post. I know you've already forgotten them, so I'll wait while you go back up and read the sticky notes with the cute-ish birdie. *tapping foot*
Got it? Ok, good. So, let me walk you thru the next step.
(the following images are from this here book:)
I hesitated on this picture for the 6 millionth time. I've never actually analyzed what the principle characters are, and why it speaks to me, but today I tried to pay attention.
But then I turned the page and got wallupped with this:
They're both in the same cottage style book (and the one directly above has made the rounds in almost every country/cottage book I've read as well as sneaking into lots of blogs.) But they each have a different feel....a different focus. So I go back to my handy-dandy
notebook sticky notes and try to descend beneath the superficial surface known as the "oh, I like this" layer.
Can I see my family in this room?
First picture: yes, cozy neutral fabrics in muted florals, won't show dirt as easily
Second picture: no, perhaps too much white for 4 kids and a huge (but adorable) black dog.
Does this room have a 'timeless' appeal or is it too trendy?
First picture: Timeless. Could be a turn of the century farmhouse or modern-day beach bungalow.
Second picture: Also mostly timeless, but some 'trendy' collections. Which leads me to ask: Why do I collect? Because I'm drawn to something, or because it's the trendy thing to collect?
BTW, it's ok to collect trendy things for the sake of collecting trendy things, especially when they help cover a big wall (like the vintage mirrors above). But I'm at a place in life where collections need to have meaning or be things I will love to look at for years to come, regardless of their trendy-ness.
Now the biggie:
Do I already have furniture or accessories to pull this off? (this will also give you a clue to what you already like, or help you know what to sell on craigslist. And few of us can start from scratch when decorating or remodeling. At least I can't.)
First picture: yeah, my floral fabric stash is a bit out of control. I already have a white painted room and a wicker side table. Couple squishy couches and some antique wood pieces too.
Second picture: some of it, yes. But my house isn't close to the style of this house. I do love the natural textures in this room, though, as well as the worn furniture pieces.
What is the common denominator?
Both of these rooms feel relaxed to me. Each has an eclectic group of vintage or antique furniture, and the stuff that matches isn't matchy-matchy-ford-apache. You know what I mean? They both use white walls so the furniture and accessories are the main focus. There's also painted furniture in each. I love white painted furniture, but I'd go for just about any color except maybe red. The first room feels more welcoming, though, like I wouldn't be
screaming at reminding the boys to get their shoes off the couch and to please use a kleenex. My style will probably marry my 'loves' from each setting, but lean more to the first picture's homey atmosphere (at least what *I* see as homey atmosphere...everyone's different.)
Ok. So I move forward with some new knowledge....I can begin narrowing down my search field. I'm looking for relaxed rooms, eclectic furniture, white walls, natural textures. Are these things found in the previous pictures from the Easy Cottage Style book? You bet'cha. From those shots, let's add florals (generally muted ones), farmhouse-style antiques, eclectic gatherings of items. I can also go back to those shots and more specifically identify what I liked/loved in each picture. For instance:
The farm table, natural elements are loves. The sparceness is a like.
Upon looking at it again, I'm just drawn to the coziness of this room, but wouldn't necessarily try to incorporate any of the decor at my house. It doesn't really fit the new criteria I'm working with.
Love this window treatment's texture, simple style, and timeless neutrality.
Like the florals and untidyness of the couches, but would LOVE more muted colors.
This book has lovely images, but my favorite is the cover. It has many of my 'base-line' likes, but is missing some of the homey-ness I love. A bit too sterile. Still like it, and I can enjoy looking at it, but I'll be gleaning only those elements of my own style to replicate....brown velvet curtains perhaps made of burlap or linen instead?
(the following images are from this one and I highly recommend this book, btw, as it has fabulous crafts and how-to's)
This picture stops me in my tracks everytime. Can you tell me why? What elements are in this room that speak to me based on what I've learned so far?
How 'bout this?
I love me some neutrals, eh? These are both 'white' rooms, but lack the sterile airiness of the white room I used in the comparison photos. These pictures also combine lots of texture, antique furniture, faded florals and/or natural fabrics, and that 'come hither' quality I love.
Now that my field has narrowed, I flipped thru the next few books a bit faster.
(yep, you know.)
Does this look familiar? If you saw my dining room reveal, you know why I love this room.
Here's a good example of collections I'd partake in even though they're trendy because they also have a timelessness about them, and birds and eggs and nests talk coo-ing words to my heart. Always have. Natural elements and all....
This one threw a wrench in my thinking just a bit. I needed to back-pedal a bit as I took in the lovliness of this room:
There's only a teeny bit of white in there! BUT, hold up homies, what does this room also have?
All my loves....coziness, vintage/antique furniture, natural elements, textural fabrics, eclectic gatherings of furniture and accessories. And AQUA. *swoon* Give me aqua in a pale or a bold, and dude I'm slobbering all over myself. I think this room is just about perfect. Just needs some vintage, faded florals and I could die happy there. I also love blues and cool greens....uh, which would explain why I like aqua.
'Nother test, though:
Would this room play nicely in the same house as some of my other 'loves'?
I could definitely see this bedroom in the same house as the first picture in the comparison. It also has enough deep neutrals to hang around some of the other 'white' rooms I've loved.
For funsies, here is another picture from the same book that I *thought* I loved:
I played the comparison game with the questions above, but this time it only took like 4 seconds to see what specifics I liked in the second picture (ticking pillow, white walls, antique furniture) but that the first picture's whole feel was my true love. It passed all the tests.
Are you understanding the process a bit here? Basically find two pictures that you really like (or even think you LOVE), but are fairly different, then start asking the questions. It's really a simple exercise, but it can also be a frustrating process. I'm just warnin' ya. Sometimes it's hard to let go of certain images that you think you love, but realize they don't work with your family, your budget, or your TRUE loves. You're mostly just 'in like' with them, not truly 'in love'. Or it might be a crush...real but fleeting, intense but hard to sustain. For example, I'll always be taken by the serene beauty and casual elegance of Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic style, but girlfriends, it will never fit me as well as a vintage farmhouse cottage filled with faded florals, ticking, homespun and linen. That's not to say it's still ridiculously hard not to buy all the glamous Simply Shabby Chic toiletry items in Target! In this case it's a choice to invest in what I know I have always loved instead of what I kinda love but wouldn't work with a family with 4 kids still at home and a house full of more rustic antiques passed down from my family.
I going to have to say no to some of the 'likes' in order to say yes to my 'loves'.
Here's couple more examples of 'my style'. These I plucked immediately as my eye was being trained quickly to filter out the likes and hone in on the loves. Any surprise that I'd liked/loved a lot in this tome? But I easily assessed LIKES....things I recognized as perhaps useful secondary layers of decor, as opposed to LOVES that would be the building blocks of my home's interior...of which there were many in this little diddy.
Here are some definite LOVES. See my signature elements?
And from here:
I noticed too that as I was going thru old pictures of past houses, I began to see the things I've carried along with me, be it furniture, colors, and styles. No matter how much I hyperventilate over all white rooms, my enduring love will always be rooms with muted vintagey florals and touches of warm color. Take a gander at some of your old pictures and pick out what still speaks to you....then incorporate it into your home now. There's always paint to 'update' an old dresser that still has meaning, or a pillow slip of your favorite floral instead of full out drapes. Try favorite pieces in new places or preferred colors in different combinations. Play with what you know has worked in the past and still speaks to your spirit.
And then there's always the blogs.
Below a listing of bloggers whose style either closely matches mine or who have perfected one of my 'loves' such that I still glean much inspiration from their taste. I applaud and support those who have managed to mold their homes to their unique personalities and not just to the latest catalogue of Pottery Barn whether or not their tastes perfectly match mine or not. Some of these are the 'big guys', but some are just creative genius' waiting to be discovered. Surfing blogs can give you a 'real life' picture of how 'real life' decorating looks without all the glitz and glamour and staging of a magazine shoot...but these gals give the mags a run for their money IMO. Take some time to visit (and tell them you saw them here), do some comparisons with the questions I offered above, and get inspired by real women with real budgets and real vision for beautiful homes.
EDITED 12/10: I now keep all my faves in my blogroll in the sidebar and up top under my header in the cottage tabs.
So to end this novella, as maidens of our manors, it's a good habit to refine our tastes in decorating. It can help us avoid costly mistakes, help congeal our look, and make us smitten with our homes each time we arrive home from a grocery run. It's a thrilling challenge, but well-worth the $156 in library fines, the 4,000 cups of hot mocha java guzzled whilst browsing the decorating magazine section at Barnes and Noble, and the 12 million hours spent blog hopping.
Start getting comfy knowing the difference between your likes and your loves.
Start practicing saying no to some of your likes so you can give a big YES to your passionate loves.
Hope some of this helps...feel free to ask questions. My disclaimer is that I'm not a professional, so don't go thinking I have this all figured out. I mostly still fumble on the 4th down at the goal line.
Um, yes, I basically love this. And I will forever.
(from the 750 Style and Design Ideas book up there yonder)
And I'm adding this to The Nester's Best of the Nest 2009 'cause I'm pretty durned proud of myself for sitting down and writing this post....been meaning to for a long time! Think it's one of my best....
Thanks for all the beautiful pictures! I do love browsing the home decor books at Barnes & Noble on a regular basis. I have several, but I am always on the look out for more.
Great post today!
I read every last word of your post and I am trying to absorb all your wonderful tips and information. I have so many decorating books and magazines and I have often wondered what draws me to a certain room and I have found that if I study hard enough and really look at the room, that it all starts to come together, and suddenly I see my style. HOWEVER, now I'm thinking about adding more warmth to my creamy colored decor. I have it in my head just how I want to do my diningroom, but I'm going to do what you have done before I start.
That's very good advice from you that we need to ask ourselves if what we have already will work or can be reworked to achieve the look we desire.
Thank you for all the great tips. Now, I'm going to go look at those blogs for some more inspiration.
THANK YOU for this post.
We have made a pledge to take our house 'back' from all the toys... and chaos!
I have bookmarked this so I can refer to it as we begin our journey. :)
This makes so much sense!!!! I need to do this exercise in interior design.
And Happy New Year!
You are so bang on with it all. Bravo!
I've started collecting ideas from magazines, flyers, anything and keeping the torn pages in page protectors, filed by subjects in binders. I JUST started this so I could help others achieve insight that I already just naturally see 100% finished in my mind's eye.
I've failed in the past from not waiting to find the LOVES and settling with the LIKES. Thanks for pointing that one out in print! I needed to read it.
Thanks for the shoutout! I need some books. Bad.
This is SUCH a wonderful post...so clear, so helpful and so on target! Will definitely refer to and reread in the future...thanks!
Oh you go girl!!!
Great post not only eye candy but lots of inspiration and tips. Something us decor junkies never get enough of!!!!
Happy New Year my friend
super duper post! We share the same brain, from the stickies to the questions! WEll done!!!
Great post, Cindy! I was laughing because I have a butt-load of books as well and almost all of the ones your looked in. Thanks for mentioning my blog among so many other great ones. I really enjoy your blog as well and make a point to visit. Happy New Year!
First, I have some of those books in my personal decorating library! Secondly, I feel honored to be on your list, amongst some of the blogs I drool over every day.
I'm so glad to have become "friends" with you this year. It's been a complete pleasure. Looking forward to all the inspiration you'll bring us in the new year!
Thanks so much for including me in your post! Loved it and I to find inspiration from lots of blogs, magazines, and books:) I will include you in my list of blogs to follow:) Thanks so much and I look forward to looking through all of your wonderful ideas too:) Chandra
I am so honored to be one whom inspires you...like the magazines. Thank you<3 You inspire me too. I've never ever broused all the books you have. I guess I've just gotten my decorating ideas from the magazines like: Victoria, Romantic Homes, Country Living, and Cottage Living. Oh, and in these past 3 years from Coastal Living too.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. I will definately try some of these tips. Thanks for taking your time to help us out.
Captivating post! I was glued to every word!! I go through a very similar process. I have a file of inspirational images that catch my eye. Every so often, I go through it and weed out the images that no longer speak to me. It helps me separate my loves from my likes. There are some inspirational images that have been with me for years. There is a definite pattern that has emerged and the process has helped me to clarify and understand my style. I love the questions that you posed above. Now, I want to go raid the public library!
P.S. Thank you for including me in your list of blogs! I subscribe to many of them already, but I am surprised to see some I have not heard of! I look forward to visiting them for more inspiration!
What a great post! I follow the process you described but never really thought about it before, and could certainly never put words to it. And you just helped me justify my huge collection of decorating books and magazines. Thanks!
I read every word and loved it! I love your post-it questions, too.
It was so great to read your thought process, this method makes total sense to me and I will move forward with a lot more purpose.
Thanks, you have inspired me and made me laugh, again!
Happy New Year too!
Wow girl...thanks for taking the time to post this, and I do know how much time it does take! I'm going to follow this for that darn upstairs bedroom that I've never ever had 'finished'. I have to wait until the antique rug loom is delivered, cause it just might end up being up there! Given the fact that you may soon be sleeping in that room yourself, I do think you need to come and help me with it. I'm just sayin'.
(And I consider overdue fines to the library a "donation")
Well thought out post. Thanks for taking the time I'll be back to read every word again when I've got more time. I'm so glad to have found you.
I was struck by the picture that you love because of the twin screen doors. Don't think I've ever seen that before. What amazed me most was the formality of the room if you consider it without all the furnishings. All the painted paneling on the walls and the high ceilings, could go to very formal but the country look and faded fabrics tone it down and I just love it!
We moved about a year ago and the house is victorian, decorated by the previous owner. Not my favorite but the location was just what we needed. I painted all my furniture white in an effort to lighten it up so it is livable. Not sure where to go from here but I'll use your method and see what pops up. Thanks
~ ~Ahrisha~ ~
Hi Cindy :)
This is the best decorating post (or article for that matter) that I've read in a long time and not because you mentioned me. Which, by the way... thank you so much! I'm seriously flattered to be among such fabulous company :)
I have a very hard time reigning myself in and sticking to my loves. I read all these blogs with white rooms and then others with crazy color combos and I have to do what you've done and figure out what I like from each and incorporate it into my style without letting theirs take over. You and I share VERY similar tastes.
Thank you so much again! Now I'm off to read some of these blogs ;)
Happy New Year!
GREAT post, Thanks.
I'm still discovering my "style" and while out shopping yesterday I made mental notes of things that I fell in love with.
Happy New Year.
Thank you for eye opening post. It makes me really think about where I'm going with some of my rooms. I am drawn to all those neutrals but I know in my heart I've got to have color, color, color. I'm going to look at things with an eye towards cohesion.
Thanks and Happy New Year!
Looking forward to helping you "put it together". I'm still amazed at how you put words together and make me laugh when reading about the most mundane things.
you are just so SMART...what a great way to peruse through these books and gather ideas! I usually fall in love with so many styles I find myself wishiing for multiple homes to decorate, not very practical!
Such an interesting post. I can understand the draw to the white rooms, but even those have a lot of color, and me, I need the color. White is beautiful, but my hubby just by himself would be like 4 little boys!!! I'd be constantly cleaning!
Have a great New Year!
Cindy, Wow! What an amazing, insightful post! You are right on the money. I have many of those books and love the inspiration they provide. It has taken me many, many years to discover what works for our life. I still struggle with it occasionally, and if you could see some things I did in the past...yikes! Our current home has helped to shape and solidify my style because it is an old farmhouse.
Thank you for including my in your list of blogs! I am truly honored and I say...right back at ya! Some of these are new to me and you can bet I will be visiting them.
Happy New Year, my friend!
Thanks so much for including me in your list! Your blog is beautiful and I am honoured that you follow along with mine!
Oh Cindy you made me blush by including me in your list of all those talented blogs. Thank you so much.
Now, on to the kudos you deserve. That was an awesome post and very informative. I am going to use that same technique to further narrow where I want to be. Thanks for explaining it all so well.
I do keep pics from magazines in folders and it is amazing when you pull them out to see how your likes/loves really do show themselves. It helped so much on our kitchen remodel.
Been working on this one for years. You see, I have MPDD - Multiple-Personality Decorator's Disease. Urban loft. Love it. Cotswold Cottage. Love it. And so on.
I've made a lot of progress. I wrote a list of my loves years ago and am stickin' with it. My furniture looks great together. People can co-exist w/ it all. And I've been pasting my LOVEIT photos in a lookbook on my blog. Now all I have to do is take the time to ask myself "What do you really, really love about this pic?" The final frontier.
Wish I could post pics of the interior of our tiny cottage, but Hubby says it would make him feel like a goldfish cause "everyone can see in." Kinda changes the direction of my blog. Oh well.
Thanks, Cindy. I'll give it a try.
Super information and I love it all. Now I really do have to look at what I love and forget fretting with all the likes. Thanks for the help. Hugs, Marty
This post must have really sunk in. After Amy brought you up on The Yellow Cottage, I had a dream last night that I borrowed all these library books but ended up frustrated because I found all my LOVES but couldn't rip the pages out to keep them! And then I woke up. (I always wake up at the cliff hangers!)
Did you address this? Take pics of the book pages? Scan them? Guess I should go reread the post. :)
Love your blog= ) Greetings from Finland and a very happy new year!!!
Hi Cindy. THANK you for this detailed list. It is perfect for someone like me who doesn't really have a natural nack for decorating. I know what I love...but I'm usually not sure how to make it happen - that and the moving every couple of years w/ the military doesn't make it easy. BUT, I am keeping this page handy because we're moving in June and I can't wait to decorate a new place.
You should be proud of this post. It was marvelous, and the whole time I was reading it, I was wondering how long it took you to write. Whew! It was well worth the time--at least to me. :) I also am so drawn to the all white rooms, but know that they could never really work for me--too much to change. Just this week I was wondering how two of my favorite blogs for eye candy are completely opposite in style and design. On one, every thing is white. And on the other, it's almost more colorful than I can stand--but I love it. I am going to apply some of your techniques to narrow down my true *loves* and see where that takes me. Thanks again for taking the time to write this out for us! Love it!
Went to the library yesterday and checked out fifteen decorating books. I could hardly carry them out the door. What a fun day I am looking forward to tomorrow. Thanks for the wisdom.
Have you ever read "What Color is Your Slipcover"? It's a fantastic decorating book that's all about honing in on your style and refining it, so you're able to consistently find things to decorate your house with that will make your heart sing. It's also great for finding ways to align decorating tastes with a husband/partner.
It's a superb book (the exercises in it are really fascinating), even if you have a pretty good idea of what you already like.
Great Ideas! Thank you for the inspiration. I too will only by things I LOVE and Can not live without. I am new to bloggy land. Lulu
I love everything you put together here. Beautiful rooms! I like timeless and not faddish look too.....Christine
You should be proud! This is an amazing post. Your information is spot-on and you deliver it in such an appealing manner. There are a couple of blogs I read, but lately have found myself turned off, because they tell their readers what they "should" do in regards to decorating. Decorating your home is an extremely personal endeavor. What works for one, may not work for another. What you've done is give tools that will allow someone to go about the task of decorating a personal space, regardless of their style preference. Great big round of applause to you!!
I've definitely fallen for making decorating decisions based on crushes and settling for likes instead of digging deep enough to determine my true loves. You've given me some much needed advice.
Thank you so much for including me in your list of lovely blogs! You are certainly on my list so I'm very flattered.
Happy New Year!!
Ditto Autumn's comments. Thank you for sharing your process. I too often settle for the crushes and likes and haven't dug deep to find out the loves. As I'm browsing mags and books, there are rooms that "speak" to me but I can't figure out why one is very country and the next may be very modern. I feel like I can use your advice in this book to help me build the home of my dreams. And thank you so much for the list of blogs, I cannot wait to dig into them.
Regards from Kansas.
So many of those books are sitting on my bookshelf right now ant get pulled out often for inspiration!
Thank you, dear, for including my blog among all those inspirational blogs - it is an honor and what wonderful company!
HA! This is where I found her! I'm such a dork LOL I was lost in this list for so long and followed so many links I couldn't remember. I have you to thank, so I'll edit and give you credit :)
My brain is so scattered with three projects going on that I wouldn't be able to find my butt if someone asked LOL
Thank you again!!
I've already commented (twice!) but I just have to come back and chime in my own update.
This post has really transformed the way I think about decorating. While most of my shopping is from thrifts, hence I tend to make anything I find work, you can end up with a buncha stuff that you only like. No wonder I've gotten rid of so much stuff from the past! The hunt is now on for those pieces I canNOT live without. I already have enough likes to last a lifetime.
Brilliant post, that'll no doubt go down in blog history.
Well, hello..! Just stopping by to say thank you for including me here, dear. Hope you and yours are well...
What a well written post this was! I really do love your writing style and you really got me thinking about my likes and loves and what draws me in. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it. I've just signed up as a follower.
And thank you too for your kind comment about my copycat chalkboard table at Miss Mustard Seeds blog.
WOW....this calls for a standing ovation!! Great, great blog and comments from all. I recognize many of the names from blogs I've visited and a couple from RMR.
Funky Junk Interiors said..."I've started collecting ideas from magazines, flyers, anything and keeping the torn pages in page protectors, filed by subjects in binders. I JUST started this so I could help others achieve insight that I already just naturally see 100% finished in my mind's eye." I started doing the same thing years ago.....hmmmm MANY years ago (lol). I actually still have my collection. I've long gone through all my decorating magazine...multiple time...just to be sure there wasn't something else that speaks to me. Then there came the time to get rid of all the magazine and I don't have any delivered to the house either. Now I have blogs! But over the years I definitely found my style. Even my daughter knows my style and has over the years sent me clippings. Btw...she became an interior decorator and has her personal style--which happens to be similar to mine. I remember when she use to ask me for scrap material, rugs, etc. and she used them to decorate or doll house...that was also MANY YEARS ago. She is in her late 40's now.
The blogs I follow all seem to have a shared similarity with my style. My current "project" is sewing slipcovers....
Have a great day gals!
I think I just might work on my "Home Sweet Home..whatever it was called... Blog again....I could put pictures of what found to be "my style"...in decorating and in the garden and yard. I might even start my "Home Sweet Home - in Our RV" again and post place I would like to visit.
Post a Comment