Updated: Dec 7, 2020
I often feel like when I start with a completely blank slate it is the hardest. Weather it be a bare shelf, a bare room, a new house or a landscape design, I always feel like if I am starting with something, such a gorgeous piece of decor, the perfect piece of furniture or some landscaping that is already in place, then the creative juices just start flowing. But give me a blank slate and I automatically go blank. Oh, there are so many options! I could go with a modern mid century style, a scandinavian style or maybe the modern farmhouse style.. I like them all! Help! So where to begin....?
Whoa, first things first.... Lets start with taking a peek at the budget... You need to sit down and take a look at your financial situation. How much money do you really have to work with...? Are you in a spot to do the whole thing all at once? Or do you need to do this slowly? What is the most important part of it all? Is it selecting furniture so that you have something to sit on? Is it planting grass so that awful dirt doesn't make it's way inside? Or is it deciding on the style you want to go with in your home..? Well, the best way to prioritize is to make a list... (Ha, back to my list making again).
1) Start by writing down the main purpose of this project. The overall goal you hope to achieve. Maybe it is to create a room that is both comfortable and calming. Or to build a landscape that flows with your lifestyle. Or to make your bedroom a place that you cannot wait to retire to every night.
2) Next let's turn to the good old internet to find pictures of things that you love. Save some pictures or make a pinterest board with all of your findings. Now take a close look at all the images. What do they all have in common? Maybe in all the images the decor is Bohemian style. Or maybe the landscape that you love is all a contemporary clean look. Maybe each and every bedroom has gauzy white curtains and bedding. Whatever it is... write it down. It may be a number of things.
3) Now let's write down your list of wants. Maybe for that bedroom you really want nice bedding, a small sitting area and a place for your book collection. Or for your landscape, you need it to be centered around your kids play area. Or your overall goal is to have style in your home but not clutter. Brainstorm and write it down.
4) Timeline. And lets be real about it. Make 4 seperate lists. 1 week, 4 weeks, 6 months, 1 year. Think about each thing you want to acheive and put it on one of the lists according to it's importance. Keep your budget in mind too.
5) Get started! Focus only on your first list. Sketch it out, go shopping or thrifting and start putting it all together. I have found in my own home that if I love it, it usually will fit with my style. I tend to go toward all things classic but leaning a little bit toward modern farmhouse. But that is just my own home. I love so many other styles as well! Sometimes I start leaning toward trendy and I have to remind myself that classic and quality are the smarter choice. Unless you are ok with redecorating every few years. Trends are short lived and before you know it, they are outdated.
AND if you ever feel stumped during the process, go back to your notes. You may be getting off track. This happens to me all the time and I have to force myself to reel it back in. I think it is easy to become discontent and want the latest and greatest and forget to look around and just be thankful. Speaking for myself here.
Tips for decorating shelves and bookcases:
1) Group like with like. Put items together by grouping items by theme, color, shape, texture or material. Example- collections, white dishes, bowls or books.
2) Make it functional. Think about items you need or could use in this room. Fit it into your decor. Example-white dishes collection in your dining room, book collection in your living room or bedroom, or coffee cup collection above your coffee bar.
My coffee bar. I am all about being functional. Decorate
with items you actually need or want in that area.
3) Go big and bold. Bigger always looks better. Grouping several smaller things together tends to look like clutter. Instead chose bigger, bolder accessories that will stand out. Select tall vases and add large flowering or fall branches.Maybe a piece of substancial pottery or large books. Whatever strikes your fancy.
4) Forget symmetry. Or for the most part. Rather then buying a matching set of mirroring objects, go for asymmetrical arrangements of three, five or seven objects. Odd numbers are the most appealing to the eye. The only thing I try to make symmetrical is heights or weights of items. You don't want your shelf or room to look heavy on one side or unbalanced.
The shelf above is in my laundry room above my sewing center.
This is an example of forgetting symmetry. To me, items are more appealing
when they are not symmetrical but more of an assortment.
5) Change shelf heights. Unless your shelves are fixed in a built in or other shelving unit, vary shelf heights so they don't line up exactly. You'll be able to use your bigger bolder items and break out of the 'lined up soldier' look.
6) Vary accessory height. A big no-no is lining up items of the same height. This makes it appear flat and boring. When pulling items together to decorate, mix it up! Short, medium and tall objects. You can add a stack of books to change the height of things on your shelf. Cake stands, pedestals, boxes can also create the same effect.
7) Create layers. In addition to height, consider depth when decorating shelves. Stand up trays, pretty plates and peices of art to use as a backdrop for your arrangement and then work out.
An example of layering! A side table in my dining room.
8) Keep it simple. I like to say less is more. You don't want to get a cluttered, heavy appearance. It makes a home feel messy AND with too much stuff your beautiful peices will get lost. You may not even be able to see that wonderful bouquet arrangment in your heirloom vase if there is too much other decor surrounding it. There is nothing wrong with have only one beautiful item on a shelf or table.
Keeping it simple. Remember often times less is more.
This is the only thing that I have on my laundry room counter.
9) Don't worry about what others will think. It is the most important that you like it! Your home is a place that you should feel happy, loved and safe. If someone doesn't like your home, who really cares. It is your home, design it for you!
Need tips on landscaping? See my blog posting "Where do I begin with a landscape design?"
I hope this will help someone that is facing the dreaded 'blank slate.' But maybe you are still feeling like you could use another set of eyeballs. Or some help pulling it together. Give us a call. We would love to come help you work through the process!
That's all for now! Have a wonderful weekend!