CATEGORY: Decorating Tips

House Hunting

I'm sorry for the shortage of posts this week. I spent the last half of the week out of town house hunting. While walking through each house, I took furious notes. I had made a large checklist before heading out of town. The checklist was broken down by the types of rooms I needed. Each room was rated by size, storage, layout, current decor and overall functionality. Some rooms had extra criteria such as the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms.

My checklist worked wonderfully for each house. I walked through and was able to objectively measure how each home would fit my lifestyle. But then I went to the last house, and I realized my checklist had one huge flaw. I forgot to rate the homes on how they felt - how they made me feel when I walked in.

Buying a new home is more than just a functional purchase. In many ways, it's like falling in love. You just know when you've found the right one.

But don't let those feelings get in the way when negotiating a price. Then you'll get screwed.

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Posted by Meghan Carter on Saturday, May 3, 2008 in MusingsDecorating Tips.

Shopping the Antique Stores

I just recently fell in love again with antique stores. After a worthless, all-too-long search online for a Chinese vase with a delicate pattern and beautiful, vibrant colors, I was left with only one option: visit an antique store. Fearful that I would just be wasting my time sorting through mostly junk, I was thrilled when the first place I stopped had the beautiful gem pictured to the left.

That's when I realized antique stores are one of the best hotspots for decorating finds. We're so used to jumping online and searching for home decor items. But sometimes the best items aren't sold online. They're in your local antique shop.

Now that's not to say that everything in an antique shop is beautiful. I had to sort through tons of junk before I found the perfect vase - but it was well worth it because I got exactly what I wanted and didn't need to settle.

But be warned. Before shopping for antiques there are a few things you should know.

Antique Store Shopping Tips

  1. Take a picture, fabric samples, paint samples and measurements of the empty spot you'd like to fill in your home. In some antique stores all sales are final. So if you buy it, you keep it - even if it ends up clashing with the sofa.
  2. Don't touch anything. Not only might you break it and then have to buy it, but also because you could get hurt. I rubbed my hand across a Chinese porcelain pot and ended up getting a piece of it stuck in my finger. The pot had a hairline fracture that I didn't see. So you've been warned.
  3. Take your time. Unlike chain stores that take hours perfecting their displays, most antique stores have items thrown together in a chaotic mess, which makes it easy to miss the good stuff. So take plenty of time to look everything over. If you're having a really hard time taking everything in, ask the owner if they have what you're looking for. They just might lead you right to it.
  4. Sometimes the lighting in antique stores is pretty bad. If you think you like the color of something, but aren't sure, ask the owner if you can step outside with the object to see how it looks in the sunlight.
  5. There's no late night shopping. Unlike many stores that are open until 9pm, some antique stores close around 5pm and aren't open every day of the week. Check the stores hours before heading out.
  6. If you think you're getting ripped off, take a picture of the item and then head home to look it up online. See how much antique stores online are asking for the item to verify if the price the store you were at is reasonable. Also, check to see if there are any ways to verify that the item you're looking at is not a fake.
  7. It's not all about paying top dollar. Sometimes the best finds at an antique store are in the $5 range. Then again sometimes they're $300 or way, way more. It just depends.

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Posted by Meghan Carter on Friday, Apr 25, 2008 in Decorating Tips.

Spend Now or Save Later

Now that the bad state of the economy has been confirmed, be prepared for a large inflow of "budget-friendly" suggestions. Everywhere you turn you'll find articles and TV shows telling you ways to decorate without breaking the bank. Those "dime store designs" will offer clever ideas that seem good at the time, but from what I've learned you get what you pay for.

So what should you do? Your budget is tight, and you want to decorate.

The side that's touted most says, "Spend your money now. Get things on the cheap. Sure they may not be what you really want, but your home will look much better than before."

The other side you rarely hear says, "Save your money to get the things you really want. In the meantime, make fixes that cost next to nothing."

I'm a fan of the rarely heard side because it's the side that is truly budget-friendly. The first side appeals to impulse buyers who typically end up regretting their purchases and want something new a month or two later because after all it wasn't what they really wanted. They compromised, and no one likes to compromise.

So save your money. Start looking for things you truly love - things you'll love years from now. Make a decorating funds jar where you insert all of your extra change. If you want a way to freshen up your home's current look, try:

  • Rearranging your furniture
  • Swapping furniture from one room to another
  • Going through your attic to find treasures once forgotten

We'll all get through this economy slump, and when we do you're decorating funds will probably be close to full - if not ready to spend. And your decorating ideas will have been perfected after months of careful - and thoughtful - planning.

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Posted by Meghan Carter on Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 in Decorating Tips.

Decorating for the Four Senses

One of my very favorite places to be is the beach. Everything about it I love. The beauty of the ocean. The sound of the waves crashing. The smell of the salt water. The feeling of the sand beneath my toes and the wind on my face. I could sit in that atmosphere for hours.

But as much as I love the beach, I normally don't love beach themed rooms. And it's not because they don't look pretty. It's because they don't feel like the beach.

When we decorate, we normally have only one sense in mind: sight. We want our room to look as good as possible. But what about the other senses?

When we experience a new - or familiar place - we don't just see it. We smell it, touch it and hear it. We use four of our five senses to determine whether or not we like the atmosphere.

If a room looks good but lacks anything else that's spectacular, it will feel flat. We like rooms that arouse all of our senses - sight, sound, smell and touch. So when we decorate we should plan to please all of them.

There are so many ways to incorporate the other three senses into our rooms. Here are some suggestions.

Sound: Put speakers in all of your rooms so you can play music that fits your mood. Get an indoor fountain. Open your windows to hear the birds.

Smell: Use air fresheners or scents. Try scented oil. Light scented candles. Open the windows in the spring and summer. Make a fire. Set out dishes of potpourri. Display a fragrant plant.

Touch: Choose fabrics and blankets that feel good to the touch. Pick flooring you like to walk across barefoot. Install a ceiling fan and let the gentle breeze caress you on warm days. Select furniture pieces that are as nice to sit on as they are to look at.

Incorporating the four senses when you design is one of the easiest ways to take a room from good to great.

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Posted by Meghan Carter on Thursday, Apr 10, 2008 in Decorating Tips.

Armoires or Closets -- for Your Boxers or Briefs?

I've found that people are either armoire people or closet people. Occasionally you'll find the odd few that are both. I fall into that category.

I like closets for my clothes and armoires for my linens. It's a strange combination, but it works for me. I like the fantasy of walking into a large closet for my clothes, and the romantic notion of pulling fine linens from antique armoires.

But more than the feelings each one brings, I like the combination for the way it adds variety and character to a room. Having an armoire in a hallway or a bedroom provides a wonderful focal point. But too many makes a room look cluttered. So by combining the two types of storage you can give your rooms character and provide extra space for essential - and not so essential - items.  

Before purchasing a new home or remodeling a room, think about which type of storage you prefer. Selecting the best type of storage for you -- the type you actually like using -- makes it much easier to stay organized and keep rooms nice and clean.

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Posted by Meghan Carter on Monday, Apr 7, 2008 in Decorating Tips.




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