Making the Most of Your Home Decor

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Over the years I have had friends and family ask questions and make comments about our constantly changing and evolving home. “You guys always have a million and one projects going on over there!” and “What are you painting now?” and “I swear that chair was in the guest room the last time I visited…”. Their inquiries are completely understandable; I am always tweaking things here and making updates there… It is something I have been doing for as long as I can remember. I have so many memories of me sitting on the floor with a pillow propped between my back and a dresser and my feet pushing on the wall while I slowly inched that dresser around my room. One day I would have my walls plastered in posters and pictures and the next I would be clearing all of the current clutter only to start over with a new plan. My mind is always racing and flooded with ideas and I loved having the freedom and a personal canvas to try things out and to experiment with the impact that my surroundings had on my day-to-day life.

Fast forward fifteen years and now I have an entire home to play with. I know so many people who have rooms that look exactly like they did fifteen years ago (cough, mom, cough), and that is totally OK. Some people finish a space, love it and stick with it for the long haul. Others might work on a space and end up settling because they become discouraged and afraid to move forward with it. And then there are people like me that are constantly inspired by their surroundings, magazines, television, store displays, nature, the interiors of fellow friends, family and Internet strangers. Every time I read a magazine I get the urge to go change out the items on a shelf and every time I return from a good friend’s home I have the urge to clean something or swap out some pillows. I am guessing many of you have picked up on most of this if you have been reading for awhile. While I have cabinets and shelves that haven’t changed in years, I also have pieces that have lived in almost every room in our home. I remember when I first found blogs and saw that so many others also found excitement in moving around chairs, rugs, pillows, lamps, accessories… I felt this giant sigh of relief. I had finally found my people.

But this constant love of a changing and evolving home, can quickly cause a string of clutter and waste. I know just as well as anyone that it can be painful letting go of items I thought I loved and that I invested in, but I just don’t have the space or heart for them any longer. Today, I thought I would touch on a question that I was asked during my recent “Wait-No-More” challenge, and offer a few tips that I am trying to use to allow myself to remain excited about our home without the need to constantly invest and purge home decor items.

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“I’m wondering what you do with the items you no longer need when you redecorate a space? Over the years I’ve started to accumulate wall art, shower curtains, old shelves..etc. Just wondering if you gather and sell or donate?”
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Such a great question, right? There is no right or wrong answer either, but over the years as I have gone through room updates and organization projects, I have learned a few things along the way. First, I will share a few of my tips for shopping my home which will all ultimately lead to those dreaded questions of what to do with the items you no longer need after you work on a space update.
CREATE AN ACCESSORY CLOSET
I remember the first time I stumbled across the Hunted Interior blog. I was fascinated by Kristin’s crazy amazing ability to revitalize her spaces time and time again. She is able to consistently makeover rooms on a budget by using many of the same fabulous pieces and sprinkling in some new touches here and there. Sometimes she would give her existing pieces new life, and other times they would become the new life in the room.
I don’t recall her exact words, but when we chatted at an event, I inquired about her decor and finds and she told me she had an incredible accessory closet. It may not have been organized and may have been packed to the brim, but it was a goldmine of her treasures and her secret to mixing up the decor throughout her home on a frequent basis.
At first I was feeling envious of this magical closet she spoke of, and then I realized that I essentially have created the same situation for myself, just on a smaller scale. Although I don’t store all of my home decor pieces in a single closet space, I do have specific accessory storage areas, and they are the very first places I go to “shop” for a room update.

So, my first tip is to give yourself a place to shop from, but keep it limited and specific. How much space you deem necessary is up to you; whether it be an entire storage room or a single drawer. The goal is to designate an area in your home that is able to hold your absolute favorite home accessory and decor items during their “off-season”. The real challenge is keeping your storage limited to the amount of space you have available, and being very strict about maintaining a “one in” and “one out” rule once you have hit your maximum capacity.

When it comes to what I am able to store, I have a spot for quite a few different types of decor pieces which all are easily swapped from room to room. Picture frames, mirrors, small accents, baskets, votives, decorative papers, fabrics (including shower curtains) etc… all live within some drawers in my closet under the stairs. Vases and dishes are organized in a cabinet in our dining area and pillow covers live in a drawer near our lower level sofa. Whenever I am working on a space, I have a selection of pieces that have consistently made “the cut” and that I enjoy.
PICK YOUR PILLOW POISON
Aside from smaller home decor pieces, textiles can completely control the overall feeling of a space. Everything from window treatments to rugs to pillow covers, each play an important role in pulling a room together. When it comes to rugs, I have learned that bigger is usually better. After taking a quick measurement of each major living space in our home, I found that if I stick to a range of 6’x9′ to 8’x10′, I am able to perform a rug swap whenever the mood strikes. If I hang my curtains at a common length in each space, it is easier to change them out without having to monkey with my sewing machine. But throw pillows? They are usually my “go to” seasonal update, but boy-oh-boy did I wait way too long to have a good pillow plan.
  • Down pillow inserts “fluff” to regain their shape, and last far longer than polyfilled options.
  • It takes up much less space to store a pillow cover than an actual pillow.
  • Purchasing pillow covers, or sewing them yourself, is often times much less expensive than purchasing a fully finished and stuffed pillow (consider using spare fabrics, table cloths, shower curtains, blankets, sweaters, cloth napkins, etc… to whip up your own).
  • Create a pillow formula you love and stick with it! Not too long ago I gathered every throw pillow we owned and took the covers off of each one. I then placed the pillow forms on each seating/bedding surface based on size and shape of the pillow, to create a formula that I am happy about. I then wrote down the pillow sizes for each surface (bed, sofa, sectional, chairs…) and now have a guide when swapping out covers. I had a few extra down inserts that I ended up vacuum sealing flat and tucking under our guest bedroom bed. Any polyfill pillows were placed in the sell/donate piles. Quick Tip: If you love the polyfill pillow fabric, remove the polyfill and add a zipper, velcro or button closure to then create a reusable pillow cover to use with an insert.
  • Creating a consistent formula will help while sourcing/pillow shopping in the future. Solid pillow covers are typically less expensive, so utilize those as the base in your formula first and then keep the patterned/colorful options for the smaller accent pillows. I personally love Sarah’s pillow pairing formulas here.

  • Once again, only store what you have room to store. I have a single drawer in our family room available to hold all of my pillow cover options.
And folding them in a smart way allows me to keep and store more! Imagine my evil chuckle right about now!
KEEP A CONSISTENT COLOR STORY
By maintaining a color palette that flows from one room to the next, you are also able to maximize your ability to move accessories and decor from one room to the next. That doesn’t mean that every wall needs to be done in the same color or hue (if you have a navy lamp in one room, you can take that color and put it on the walls in the next room), just that there should be a similar theme as you move throughout your home.
Over the years, the colors on our walls have evolved into a very soothing, sea-like palette. I love that they still offer variety and dimension from space to space, yet they all feel like they belong together in one happy place. That said, I am never afraid to look at colors that pair well with the ones above, as well as with the other common colors I use in our textiles and accessories, and give furniture, cabinets and walls a fresh coat of paint at a moment’s notice. Quick Tip: Find more tips for creating a consistent home color scheme here and here.
PRACTICE THE RULE OF THREE
The rule of three has been a long time practiced decorating rule (the eye typically prefers groupings done in odd numbers), but I have another rule of three that I try to follow any time I purchase new home decor pieces. Although I am trying to be more and more intentional while selecting specific items, I have also learned that no matter how much I measure, plan, wait and love something, sometimes it just doesn’t work out where I intended. But quite often times those are my very favorite moments. Prior to investing in something, I now challenge myself to name a minimum of three places that the item can work in our home. This is simple with vases and candles, but more important for larger ticket pieces such as lamps, accent chairs and wall art/frames. This was how I was able to recently perform a musical mirror update. I have been searching for over a year for the right mirror for our main bathroom (our current one is broken but we are making due), and when I finally spotted one that fit every wish-list bullet point, I took the plunge. I knew if it didn’t work out, I had at least two other spots where it would. And wouldn’t you know it, it just didn’t work the way I initially hoped. But when I propped it up above our shoe cabinet, it was about the most magical home moment I have had in ages. Where was this mirror two months ago I asked myself?
I was then able to take the tray mirror that I also am completely gaga over, and move that to above the dresser in our master bedroom (the wood tone is so striking in there). And that allowed me to ultimately move the beautiful carved wood option to our master bathroom. I was able to refresh three spaces with one simple accessory change and now I love each one even more than I did before. It doesn’t always work out this way, but the longer we live in our home and the more we tie together our spaces, the more freedom we have.
KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE
I would love to someday create an organized book containing our paint colors, inspiration photos, room dimensions, fabric swatches, etc… but for now I just keep things scribbled down in a notebook or visit my blog for info (thank you home tour page!). By keeping items paired down and knowing my paint colors, furniture options and important dimensions, I can be a lot more thoughtful about the items I am using throughout our home. I write down rug sizes, pillow form sizes, frame sizes, etc… and keep it tucked in my planner. That way when I am out contemplating things, or see something I think will work, I have something to reference to help me through the decision process.

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Although there were decisions we made during our kitchen renovation that created some new storage and furnishings, we really wanted to be able to reuse many of the items we had in our kitchen/dining/living room previously throughout the remainder of our home. One of the first things I was asked is, “Where are your navy curtains going?”. We just hung a set in our boy’s shared bedroom and they were such a welcomed change to a space that hasn’t been touched in a few years. I have quite a few options for the other set as well, which is a great feeling. We were also able to reuse a portion of our media cabinets with the new fireplace built-in and find a new home for the majority of our furniture, only having to sell a single piece so far. This all goes back to having a similar color scheme in each room to offer flexibility.
All that said, it is SO important to know when to let go, and to not let your home overflow with the cast-offs and items that no longer work. Once you have laid the foundation to rotating your decor, you will most likely still find that you fall out of love with pieces, that they break or become worn and no longer serve a purpose for your changing and evolving home/style.
When we did our master bathroom refresh, we were left with our original mirror and rug that we no longer wanted or needed, so I decided to let them go vs. attempting to add them to my storage areas. Every item I touch during a refresh, I ask:
  • Do I really love it? Does it bring me happiness? Does it represent the home I am working to create?
  • Will I be able to give the item new life in another location of our home? How versatile is the piece?
  • Does the item still serve a purpose? Is it still functional? What is the overall condition/quality of the piece?
  • Do I have the necessary space to store this item? It is important to be realistic about this and stick to those few storage areas you have designated. I had a lamp shade that I moved around for two years because it was too big to store, so I grumbled and worked around it and tried to make excuses to keep it. All that did is add annoyance and stress… it should have been let go of the moment I realized I didn’t have the room to keep it.

Once I have made the decision to let go of something, then comes the next big question, what to do with it.

I typically try to sell anything that I think may have some sort of value (it has to be worth my time to manage the listing for the item I am selling as well). Both Craigslist and eBay are a great place to sell home good items (especially Craigslist because it is free and doesn’t require you to ship anything). Because our renovation spurred an entire home purge and declutter session, we are going to try and hold a small thrift sale before the end of summer, paired with a giant listing of items on Craigslist simultaneously. However, when it comes to everyday “one in” and “one out” and determining to do with the “one out”, I set a date in my planner that it has to be sold by, and if it is not, I am forced to cut my losses by donating it.

With each item you decide to let go of, I would question the value of the item (if you don’t know, a simple look on Craigslist, Google and eBay should help you out), and then decide if that value is worth the time and effort of selling it. Sometimes it is just better to drop off a box at the Salvation Army and celebrate that instant relief of letting go.

So there is my very long winded answer to a commonly asked question (I must have missed chatting with y’all while I was traveling last week). Hopefully it provides a few ideas for refreshing nooks and crannies of your home when inspiration strikes, vs. heading to your nearest HomeGoods or Target for more items. And while I am sure many organizers would caution you to just get rid of everything and not create accessory cabinets/closets, I find it much more resourceful to pull out a vase or frame I haven’t seen in six months than spending money on something new each time seasons change or I work on room. In fact, having a place to tuck away my favorite home items allows me to fall back in love with them over and over again.
Also, don’t forget the power of paint, gold leaf, Rub n’ Buff, fabric, decorative papers and embellishments. Simple and inexpensive items allow you to revive, upcycle and repurpose your favorite decor pieces over and over again.
Let’s keep the discussion going. Fellow friends that love to keep things interesting around your home, share your additional tips for doing so without breaking the bank. Also, I would love to hear from design professionals that make over full rooms for clients on a frequent basis. What other suggestions do you have for those looking to get out of the 15 year rut?
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