Recently, my best friend (who insists on being referred to as Penny Lane for the purpose of this blog – yes, she’s a weirdo) moved into a super awesome condo in Arlington, VA with her new husband. These newlyweds love their condo, but hadn’t really made it “theirs”. So, since we lived together for 2 years and she knows how obsessed I am about decorating, she naturally asked me for help in transforming her condo into a trendy space that represented their style.
When I started asking “Penny Lane” how she envisioned her new space she had no idea of the direction she wanted to take. The only input she gave me was that: 1.) She was planning on shopping at Ikea 2.) She wanted pops of color 3.) She was planning on buying an ottoman and 4.) She wanted to incorporate their leather couch and Ikea Poang chair and footstool, which they already own.
This is what sparked this blog post: “Penny Lane” had no idea where to start – no vision, no colors (except for saying “maybe blue”), no inspiration. Designing comes natural to me and it was really surprising to find that she was having such a hard time with this.
Below is a picture of the ottoman she originally sent me – which is nice, however I know her style and this wasn’t screaming “Penny Lane” to me. She only chose it because she said it had a pattern and she wanted something to break up all the black in the room.
As soon as I saw this picture I realized, maybe not everyone sees a room and automatically has a vision for how to transform it. So, I thought I would share with you the process I use to design a room….that’s right folks – I’m sharing my secrets!
Step 1: Find an Inspiration
First stop, Pinterest! Pinterest is your friend! Now, let me preface this with “YOU WILL NOT GET AN EXACT REPLICA OF A PINTEREST ROOM”. The inspiration is not meant to be literal, but something to base your design off of. This was hard for “Penny Lane” at first – I had to reiterate that we were not looking to replicate the room to a tee, but just mirror some of the basic ideas. Search for 1 main theme that you want to incorporate into your design (i.e.: Farmhouse table, sectional couch, industrial shelving, etc). Since I knew Penny Lane wanted to keep her leather couch I simply searched “Black leather couch” on Pinterest and picked 3 designs that I thought might represent the couple well. This helped narrow down their vision – See below:
Step 2: Go shopping – but, don’t buy anything!
Since Penny Lane and her husband planned to purchase their items at Ikea I started my hunt on the Ikea website for some pieces that would help create these looks. First, the rugs:
Then, the ottoman – which incorporates her pop of color:
A throw blanket – which I feel you can never have too many of! Throw blankets help to create different textures, levels and patterns in a room:
And finally, I did some searching for pillow covers on Amazon to complete the look and put them in a folder for her to choose from. In my opinion, you can never have too many pillows! At one time I had 46 throw pillows in my house – haha, not kidding – I’m crazy about pillows! ***HINT – Pillow covers are SUPER cheap on Amazon (We are talking some as low as $2). If you are looking to makeover a room on a dime and already have throw pillows you should TOTALLY consider shopping on Amazon. I will add though, they might take a while to be shipped – so be aware of shipment time. But in my experience, as long as you read the reviews you will get a pillow cover of GREAT quality for less than half the price you would pay at a department store. You didn’t even have to leave your couch AND you’re re-purposing your old design items – WIN, WIN!
Step 3: Download Pic Collage
This is my ALL time favorite app. I use it for everything!!! Whenever I want to see how different design elements will look together I go immediately to this app. Seriously, if you don’t have it – GET IT! Best part, it’s free!! I use this app to cut and paste to create a personalized vision whether it be for a room, an outfit or even for my wedding. I play around with all the options until I find something that I think really works. This was the vision I came up with for Penny Lane and her husband’s living room:
Step 4: Buy and Design!
Now that you have your personalized vision – get out there and shop away! Don’t be afraid to buy a few items and mix and match until you come up with the right combo – You can ALWAYS return items that you don’t need/use.
Try to stick to the picture you created in Pic Collage. Whip the photo out as a reference for your design as you shop. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shopping and found an item I “had to have” which is usually WAY over my budget and then refer back to my vision and realize – that’s not really what I want. I am always drawn to “eastern” looks like Moroccan and Indian – but I don’t want my whole house to look like that. So, I use my design to keep me in check with the vision for that particular room.
Go to thrift stores and less expensive stores such as Ikea, Marshall’s, Burlington Coat Factory & Tuesday Morning (those are my go-to’s). Decorating a room does NOT have to be pricey – so, think thrifty!
Well, are you ready to see the finished product of Penny Lane and her husband’s living room, that I helped design from 909 miles away? Here it is:
Before this design, they had only a couch, chair and footstool and one under utilized coffee table – no pillows, blankets, ottoman or rug. Now, they have a beautiful room that is modern, purposeful and has that pop of color they were looking for! I love this look for them and I’m eager to start working with them on their next room – the master bedroom! Oh, la la!
Have questions or want some advice on your own design? Don’t be shy – contact me! I’d LOVE to help!