Monday, March 26, 2012

the daily tip...

A week does not go by that the furniture in my home does not get moved. At the very least, I'm moving around accessories. Yes, I am restless--you are correct, but I also use my own home as a test lab of sorts. It's good to know what works, what's surprises me and what just falls flat no matter how much I want to like it. I don't want any surprises for clients. Anything they get has been "test lab'd" in my house first.

We've discussed this before, you and I---but one of the other reasons that the rearranging is so key, is that it assists in seeing existing pieces and rooms in a whole new way.

Way back in the day when I wasn't making my living as a designer, I loved going over to a friend's home who would lament that their space didn't look/feel great. They would usually say things like, "I don't like my living room, yet I have all this stuff in here that I bought because I love it! I spent serious money." Indeed, there is money that cannot get it's act together.

They'd go on to say, "Why is it that your studio apt looks so good and all you have is crappy dumpster dive McCrap stuff?! You made your own lamps from trash and I hate you. They look great in the room, yet I mocked them. Help me figure this out. I'm begging and also offering dinner."

I would never tell them that I would have helped without the dinner, because I reeeeally wanted the dinner. Even though they would mock my dumpster diving and crafty ways, they always came around.

I was not playing around with the dumpster diving. I once ran at least a mile with a wood slated bench that had cast iron legs, on my back (up a hill in L.A.) because the dumpster I had retrieved it from was in a lot with a security guard. There was no way this guy was going to win. No way. I still own this treasure. It's been at least 20 years.

I digress. The thing that I loved about visiting my friends who were lamenting over the state of their spaces, was that I would spend the evening rearranging the furniture, rehanging artwork, moving/regrouping accessories, pulling things from one room to another, raiding their garages/attics/ominous shove everything in closets, in order to recreate their room(s) while they prepared dinner. Nothing was bought, sometimes a suggestion for a piece here and there to complete the look, or paint color advice, but overall--it was all their existing stuff! Almost always the transformations were dramatic and thrilling. I loved helping them morph their space with mostly what was on hand. And of course, I'd reap the rewards of a tasty dinner.

Nowadays, my schedule does not permit for this kind of evening, but I still do it in my in my own home. I routinely will either do little tweaks, or clear out a room, cram everything in another part of the house and treat the new empty box as if I'm starting from scratch--only using the things I already own.

Most of us have a lot to work with. Before you start thinking about a new purchase, big or small, play with what you've got. Don't limit yourself to just the room you're in. Shop your home. There may be there are accessories in your bedroom that can be moved into the living room. A rug that has been feeling a bit old in a den can be moved to the foot of the bed. An old chair, trunk or even wooden ladder in the attic or garage can help transform an office, bedroom, guest room. Also, think about existing items with a new coat of paint, new hardware, different details (new shades for existing lamps, fresh looking accent pillows for your favorite chair, a custom cut piece of marble for your inexpensive IKEA metal rolling cart, as a top, etc.) Sometimes an old wooden chair or simple table just needs a fresh coat of paint. Maybe even some left over house paint that is just sitting on a shelf in the garage.

The more you experiment with what you have, the more you will have a discerning eye as to what may or amy not work for your room. Also, the better equipped you will be to actually shop for new things. There will be less guess work and more laser-focused shopping.

I may be doing a lot less dumpster diving these days, but believe me---my eyes are still open for that perfect curb side find!

Go forth and design well.


Anonymous said...

This is very wise advice! I move things out to the studio and keep the overflow as a sort of "shopping space." By rotating things in and out I never get tired of a room.

Beth said...

Another fine post. And something I really need to take to heart. I don't change things often enough, but I'm always so pleased when I do.

By the way, I miss The Daily Tip videos.

Nancy said...

I recently saved a 1930's Double Wedding Ring quilt from the trash! Nothing wrong with a little Dumpster Dive once in a while ;)

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