I just booked my plane tickets for a family trip to Martinique in March, so I’ve got my tropical getaway on the brain today. Winter has been so brutally cold for the past couple of weeks that all I can do is anticipate being dressed in breezy lemlem beachwear—toes in the sand—and sipping on a refreshing bevvy. Lazy beach getaways really are the best family trips.
We don’t always agree on restaurants and activities when travelling to big cities (when there’s 3-4 generations under one roof, we all tend to want different things). But that’s a non-existent problem when all you want to achieve in a day is to lounge by the pool, cook amazing meals, play a few rounds of backgammon and unwind (à-la The Vacationers minus the drama). March 15th, you can’t come soon enough.
It’s a tale as old as time: we all want our decor to be done before we even move into our new place. I’m so guilty of this, I might as well be my own worst client! The truth is that the best rooms evolve over time and some things just can’t be rushed (especially with limited budget and space). Here are a few tips that will help you plan your decorating budget for your new place.
TRIAGE WHAT YOU HAVE
First, assess the furniture you already have. Determine what you want to get rid of and what you definitely want to keep long term. If you’re unsure, follow this simple rule: is it worth keeping for now until you find a better replacement? If the answer is yes, put a big fat maybe sticker on it. If it’s no, put it on Craigslist or donate it to goodwill right away. Do the same with all your accessories (lighting, trays, rugs, etc).
When you visit a new place, make sure to ask if you can take a few measurements, or if you can have access to the place before you move in. If you can get a floor plan, even better (but watch out as some don’t offer precise measurements). Here are a few important measures you might not want to forget: ceiling heights, window widths and heights, distance between window casings, doors, built-ins, fireplace, A/C units, kitchen counter height, and any nooks and crannies created by irregular rooms.
COME UP WITH A PLAN
Once you have all your measurements, find a place for the items you want to keep. Then, determine whether the items in your “maybe list” have a place in your new floor plan. Then, identify the items you’ll need to buy and separate them into two categories: what you need urgently (a bed to sleep in, a table to eat on)— and what you can buy down the road because it isn’t essential to your daily routine (bookcases, side tables, occasional chairs).
BUY THE URGENT STUFF
Chances are you already have a budget in mind for the pieces you need urgently, and you probably also have a few wish list items that you’re dying to buy. For me, it’s this West Elm marble dining table and two Blu Dot copper bar stools. As long as you’re not lusting over a $50,000 antique Persian rug, allow yourself one or two splurges per room. It’s always nice to spend a little more on a few items that will really make a statement in your home. It will also elevate the rest of the room.
For everything else, shop around for great deals—West Elm often have big promotions—the same goes for Serena & Lily. Look at clearance sections—you might just find exactly what you’re looking for. Visit your local vintage or antique shops and pick out a couple of items that will give your space character (but don’t go overboard or your place will end up looking like a yard sale).
THINK LONG TERM
While it might be tempting to fill you entire place now, but remember the best spaces evolve over time. think about what you’re spending on and how long you’ll keep those items around (if you’re renting, think short term). Take your time with non-urgent items. Come up with a monthly amount you’re willing to dedicate to finishing your decor and go through the list one by one. If you only buy items that you’re crazy about, your place will evolve organically into a space you’ll love and that represents you as a person.
I drove to my new place last night to take all the measurements I needed to finish off my new floor plan. It was the first time I was there alone without realtors or building management. In that short moment, watching the sun set in my empty apartment, it finally felt like home. And that made me happy.
I’m probably not the type of person that chooses an apartment rationally. Sure there were bigger apartments for the same price—and buildings that weren’t standing next to construction sites. But this one felt right. The floors were light grey—not dark brown—and it was flooded with light. Unlike the other cookie cutter places I visited, I was able to instantly imagine myself living there. I knew at that moment how I would decorate and how I would live in the space. I guess that’s the gut feeling they call intuition. And if home is where the heart is, you better be able to feel it from the moment you first walk in.
West Elm is in full blown sales mode with up to 50% off bedding and bath and 20% off rugs, coffee and side tables AND curtains. I’m really digging this rug to go under my round dining table. I also want to splurge the beans on a marble coffee table… Should I go with this one, this one or this one?
Gallery walls may be all the rage on Pinterest, but nailing them without hammering moonlike craters on your walls is easier said than done. Follow these four tips to hang your gallery wall like a pro.
Mix with finesse
There should be a subtle cohesion between the artwork you choose— whether it’s a color palette, types of framing, size or artwork or historical period, but you don’t want to be too matchy-matchy. If you’re going for very different types of art, choose similar frames for example. Conversely, if you’re hanging black & white photography exclusively, consider breaking it up with one or two colorful prints. And if you’re hanging your children’s artwork gallery style, have fun with different frames!
Before you start hammering holes in your wall with abandon, lay your artwork on the floor and arrange the composition of your gallery wall. You can also cutout the artwork shapes in kraft paper and tape them to the wall to see the overall effect. The better you plan, the better the result.
Let it breathe
Don’t hang all your artwork tightly in a bunch (unless you’re Kristen Buckingham). Let the gallery wall breathe by leaving plenty of white space around the artwork. Start with hanging your first piece so that the bottom of the frame starts somewhere between your waist and chest. You’ll be able to enjoy each piece better if they’re at eye level.
Secure your work
If you own valuable artwork and want to go the extra mile to have a professionally installed gallery wall, consider picture hanging systems that doesn’t use any nails. These can be mounted behind moldings and can allow you to interchange your gallery wall at your heart’s leisure. More importantly, they come with anti-theft hardware so you can be at ease that your gallery wall is secure.