Let's face it, renovating a home can be overwhelming and sometimes you may think you're going mad. Working with designers, contractors, along with every buddy having an opinion, at the end of the day you may just want to cry. So let's make it easy for you to figure out what goes in your home.
1. Go with the architecture of the home. When you have a french country home you want tile, paint and furniture that goes with that style. When you purchase a modern home you're not thinking contemporary furniture, you're wanting modern. Contemporary belongs with contemporary. When you have a colonial home you are not going with french provincial, but rather colonial pieces, with a flair of provincial. It first makes sense to buy a home with architecture that you love so the inside matches your taste.
2. Once you figure out the genre of the home, paint and flooring are the first things to start to figure out. Start with the base of the home and work up to lighting, paint, furniture, decor and artwork. It's elementary my darling. Flooring options are so many that your head will spin. Let's narrow it down: Wood (real wood, engineered wood, tile that looks like wood and laminate that looks like wood.) Tile (porcelain, ceramic, real stone.) Carpet (wool or synthetic.) Materials (concrete, cork, vinyl.) What you choose is ultimately up to you. It's all in how it looks and feels to you. So go to different flooring shops big and small and touch the flooring and step on it and take pictures of it and ponder it. Don't be hasty since it will be expensive. There are many stores such as Floor and Decor, Home Depot, Lowes, Lumber and tile outlets, mom and pop shops, exclusive shops, downtown shops, and shops on-line. Get samples to see how it goes in your space before making decisions about what to buy. Bring home the samples and see if it is really what you want and if the house likes it too.
3. Now paint. Go to your favorite paint store, Dunn Edwards, Vista, Sherwin Williams, Home Depot, Lowes, independent, local, expert retailer stores, or go on-line and start looking at colors. Do you want blues, oranges, yellows, browns, black, beiges, white, green, reds, or fifty shades of grey? Figure out what soothes and moves you. Once you narrow down the category of colors you like and for which rooms you like them in, buy samples of paint. Start with a few and then just keep going until you have an ah hah moment. It's not a cheap or easy process, but painting the samples on your walls will let you know what you can and cannot live with. If you don't want to mucky up the walls use a piece of white paper or cardboard taped onto the wall. Don't pick too many colors and make the house all choppy with different paint. Don't go too wild and make your eyes bug out every time you walk into the kitchen. Subtle colors for the bedrooms help you sleep better and bolder colors in small bathrooms or laundry rooms is my rule. Choose a theme of colors that foster a flow through your home.
4. Finding contractors. Referral, referral, referral. Don't go too cheap or too high. Look at reviews on-line. Talk to your neighbors to see who worked for them. Do your research. Get recent references. I made the mistake of getting 3 past references for a flooring guy only to realize they were from years ago and not current. Blunder after blunder the guy finally told me he had lost his wife and started doing drugs. He was a nice enough guy but he had become a mess, therefore he created chaos in my home.
5. Be on-site at all times or have someone who knows design, like a designer or a family member who will keep close watch on the work. Workman don't want someone breathing down their neck, but guess what either does your kid, but that doesn't mean you are not watching and checking on him or her regularly. Contractors or whoever you hire often leave incompetent workers on their own. So poke your nose into your masterpiece anytime you want to. Speak up if you see something that bothers you or you know is cockamamie.
6. Furniture is all about matching the architecture. You can be somewhat eclectic but you want a flow to the structure and all that is in it. So figure out what the house would have in it if a top designer were to do the design. Let the architecture and setting of your home dictate the style. Throwing in asian pieces, or modern or antique pieces here and there in any architecture is fine but the base furniture style wants to have a theme. Find furnishings, paintings and decor on Craigslist, Facebook furniture groups and consignment stores to save some money. I have found expensive, quality pieces by shopping "green." As long as what you buy is not trendy, it is real wood and high quality you will be happier than buying cheap "good looking" pieces. When you want new items hire an interior designer to help you. Designers get great deep discounts at all the large stores and from manufacturers. Find a designer who will pass the savings onto you.
Marla Stone is a design and decor expert founded in the art of Feng Shui. Her company Decor and more for Less is at www.orangecountydecorators.com She works in the United States, Europe and Canada helping people get real with what they want and then she finds the deal. Call 949-709-7000 for a free 15 minute phone consultation with a decor specialist.
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Marla is known as the Declutter Your Strategy™ expert. Marla earned her BA in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work and is the founder of