New Home Decorating Tips and Ideas
Do you struggle with where to begin when you start decorating a new house, or even a new room in your home? It’s so easy to lose focus, get confused or even simply become overwhelmed. And that’s when we make mistakes. Today I’m sharing a living room I recently revamped after I made some tragic choices the first time around. I’ll be highlighting my mistakes, as well as sharing tips and ideas to hopefully save you from doing the same!
Today’s project collaboration is sponsored in partnership with Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart
A Brand New Living Room at The Little Cottage
Hello friends! While many of you know that The Little Cottage isn’t exactly new, you know it’s still very new to me! You can catch up on everything The Little Cottage [here]. On my first go-around to decorate the living room, I made some big mistakes in selecting everything from the wall color to the rugs… and those mistakes can get very expensive.
Starting from scratch in a room can be very intimidating and overwhelming (there are so many choices!) but I’m hoping that in sharing my pitfalls, you can avoid them!
When we acquired The Little Cottage, it looked something like this. But worse.
It was basically stubbed-out and dry walled when we walked thru and it needed to become a home. We did all the upgrades to complete it and make it livable. Like installing all new windows, simple light fixtures, fresh paint, trim and new flooring throughout, along with putting in a kitchen and bathroom. After my mother in law moved out, we temporarily tried using the main living area as an indoor shop (that was short lived!), but once we built the new shop my husband & I decided it would serve us best as a guest cottage for our friends and family.
And this is when it became a new home for me to decorate to my taste. The trouble was… I was temporarily tasteless. I tried too hard to do something “different” and strayed too far out of my comfort zone, and beyond my creative abilities. It quickly turned it into something that wasn’t really me.
It wasn’t completely horrible, but it wasn’t particularly good either.
Decorating Mistakes To Avoid:
I want to preface the following by saying that I still like everything I selected, but I didn’t like it together. These were the three areas I made my biggest mistakes, so I can speak from experience on these choices.
- 1. ART: I firmly believe art is the crowing glory of a room. And you either need to select it first and build a room around it, or pepper it in as you find it and complete a room with it. I did neither and the room suffered for it. I tried to haphazardly add a fun flamingo print and I did it all wrong. I needed more of this color, style or texture to complement the art, or to choose something different. I’ve set this aside and hope to build a softer room around it at a later date. I didn’t do it justice where it hung and it wasn’t right for the space.
- 2. BOLD PATTERNS: I absolutely had to have this delicious leopard print pillow & poof. I had a vision of Flamingo and Leopard… and realized I’m not a flamboyant decorator. I did’t have the follow through to pull it off. The room needed more balance to be able to take the few bold bits I had added. KNOW YOURSELF. I now know… I love seeing bold design with amazing pattern play, but it’s not really me. And it’s not easy to do properly. So mock up a room digitally if you can first, if you plan to go bold and it’s new to you.
- 3. AREA RUGS: Are a big commitment. lol. I still think this is a gorgeous rug!! I’ve seen it in others homes, and it’s beautiful. And it almost looked amazing in the room, but there was way too much going on. (Some tacky girl added flamingos & leopard print?) But seriously, I made two mistakes with this purchase. One, I should have sent it back the day it arrived. I knew the second I unrolled it, that it was much brighter and much more vivid in person than it looked online. Two, I should have know myself better. To think I could commit to this much color was foolish. I know I love to change things too much to be boxed in by a very blue rug.
- 4. OTHER: Of course there are many more areas that you can make a misstep when decorating. Paint colors can be incredible difficult, my best suggestions is to always make the investment of buying samples. Use large areas on several different walls in the room to paint your samples on. Paint large sample squares at least 2 ft X 2 ft, larger if you can. Flooring & Lighting are of course integral, but I’m focusing more on the home decor elements today.
Now… Let’s Talk About The New Room, And What I Got Right!
ART – Like my Antiques Collectibles sign. So very me. So worth the wait. The year long wait, while it lived in the workshop while we re-painted. The black and white is neutral, as well as timeless, so I’ll never have to worry about it being a “color” I’m not feeling. This is definitely a case of a piece of art (I consider this art) calling to you. Art is so subjective, but I don’t think you can ever really go wrong with a piece that brings you joy!
AREA RUG – The new area rug. Can you hear a big ole sigh? I took a chance on the tones ordering online, but this time, it only got better and better as I unrolled it. It’s perfect. It’s soft. It even has a rubber back! No slipping and no tripping.
An area rug will ground a room like nothing else.
It can also make or break it. The whole room was transformed when I rolled this rug out.. My white sofa suddenly looked more at home, and my wicker chairs look better than ever. The darker shade, suddenly coming to life with a light background to play off of.
That goes double for the coffee table. It’s like a little farmhouse jewel in a soft carpeted sea. We’ll come back to that cutie in a few. It’s got a secret.
When I first decorated this room, I forgot my own design guidelines.
Start with neutrals, and bring in color with small details and things that are easily changed. Complete the room with the layering of personal items, textural pieces… and if you can, add life with plants and flowers.
The above is a tried & true methods that work for me. They fit a design aesthetic that is easy to work with and allows for effortless changes for the season, mood and whim.
If you have a relatively timeless base, you can add and take away elements to keep your look fresh, with minimal cost and ease.
THE TV: I love to have my TV’s hidden in a room, and so far I’ve managed to stay away from very large ones that need to be mounted on the wall. For as long as I can get away with it, I’ll always choose to have an armoire to hide mine in. The best solution I’ve ever seen is a custom built-in with doors that slide to hide away the TV, or the new televisions they have that look like a painting. This is of course a personal preference. I’ve also seen gallery walls done really well that help to camouflage the big, black box.
Layering a smaller rug over a larger one is a really fun way to get to play with more whimsical or bolder colors and patterns, without making a large investment or a big commitment!
And they are much easier to store too!
Just for fun, when I started building the room back up, I decided to put the barn door cabinet [here] by the kitchen as a sort of make-shift pantry.
I really value versatile furniture, and this piece is a chameleon! See it in our bathroom [here].
My plan is to get a vintage style refrigerator for this kitchen but it’s just not in the budget right now, nor is it a necessity. That does require that the kitchen area be pretty fluid, as changes will be made at some point. It’s always good to think ahead if you can, this will help avoid buying unnecessary items and will save you money in the long run.
The new rug was such a winner, I ordered a smaller one for the kitchen! And a new clock as well. I know we’ve all got cell phones now, but some folks still like a clock, and being battery powered it’ll work even when the power is out. Which happens here a few times a year. Like clock work.
The microwave cart is located where a stove would normally be in this kitchen. It’s right next to the coffee station, so for now, at least some comforts are available. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to add real fruit when company comes.
This main living area isn’t overly large, but in keeping with a soft color palette I think it feels open and inviting.
I used a soft blue as my accent color and it’s most impactfull on the main wall coming into the room from the entryway. Because the room has a very vaulted ceiling, it’s rather well absorbed.
My coffee table decor is simple. I always really admire and enjoy seeing ornate, very curated coffee table styling, but it’s not me. So I don’t fight it. A tray is one one of the easiest ways to make a simple vignette look gathered and complete. It’s a go to for me and I am a tray collector because of it. I just love them.
I’ve done a light coastal Summer look that I think complements the room, with vintage fishing floats, a wood bowl and a pretty textured vase. The candle is from Better Homes & Gardens and the double wick subtlety scents the whole house.
I was in blue mood when I painted the antique fireplace mantel. In typical “me” fashion, I don’t know how long it will stay blue. This is the kind of thing where you can afford to take a risk. It’s only paint. Low cost and certainly nothing permanent. I love the freedom of knowing I can paint something a fun color, but I don’t have to be married to the color for life. I also love the texture of baskets… and I’d collect them all if I could!
Adding in the small thoughtful elements will be dictated by your personal style, and how you use a space. Because this will be a home away from home, I made sure to add a lot of candles (for one guest in particular). My mom. She loves to light candles so I loaded it up! This wood and metal candle holder looks like something Jim would make in his shop, but I grabbed it at Walmart!
I often use what’s on-hand to hide problem spots, like the electrical panel. It’s tucked behind the old wooden ladder, and a birdcage holder that is now housing my wood farmhouse style lantern and another yummy candle.
Oh, I told you I’d share the coffee table secret.
Ta-Da! I lifts up for storage. And, also acts as the best TV tray ever.
It’s perfectly positioned so you can sit in the chairs and see the (hidden) TV.
So what do you think – Did I learn from my mistakes? I hope I shared even a little tidbit or two that can help you decorate a new space with a little more confidence, and possibly help you avoid a misstep or two.
I’m so very happy with much the subtler look and relaxed feel of the living room. As evidenced by the 947 photos I shared. Please forgive me, I think I was a bit excited. Okay, I was totally excited!! xo Shannon
PS: really though, there were actually 79 pictures I had to pick from. I told you I really liked how it turned out. haha
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