A friend recently asked me for decorating advice, perhaps not quite realizing how seriously I take the subject. As I walked through their house, noting the appalling wallpaper and the flesh-toned vertical blinds, I wondered where to begin! My friend had no idea, either where to start or even that the wallpaper and vertical blinds were that bad.
As always, the place to begin is at the library. Decorative choices are a matter of opinion. My apartment has every color of the rainbow in it – for me it’s energizing and joyful, for others, it feels like a nursery school. But when I was designing my personal space, I looked through many, many decorating books and magazines here at the library and gave a lot of thought to how I wanted it to feel. As I did so, I began to realize what mattered most to me when it came to creating the feeling that I want to have when I am in my own home.
I can’t list all the resources I used in that process – there are just too many. I highly recommend a trip to the Main Library just to go through as many of the books and magazines as you can! However, I do have some titles to tell you about, just to get you started.
Probably the simplest way to make a space feel different is to paint. Do you want to feel uplifted? Calm? Protected? Take a look at The Color Scheme Bible or The Color Palette Primer, both of which offer pages and pages of color combinations. See how you respond as you look through them. Remember two things: painting is fun when you make it a party, and it’s easily changeable, just have another party!
Getting a feel for your own style is also important. Perhaps you grew up surrounded by lace curtains and antique furniture. You know that floral wallpaper gives you scary flashbacks, but you don’t know what the other options are. Paging through The Home Styling Sourcebook or Home Therapy will help you know what else is out there, how it looks, and whether it inspires happiness or the heebie jeebies.
Some basic introductions to home decorating can help break down the different areas you can focus on if you’re overwhelmed by all the different things you might like to change in your space. I so agree with the title of Ty Pennington’s book, Good Design Can Change Your Life; and anyone can use The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Decorating Your Home, even if you’re not an idiot.
Saving my absolute favorites for last, no discussion of decorating that I’m a part of is complete without a mention of Tricia Guild. Part of my quest to make the world more colorful is to recommend Tricia Guild on Color to everyone. Finally, another decorating heroine of mine is Kelee Katillac, author of House of Belief: Creating Your Personal Style. Katillac takes a fairly deep approach to design by using a variety of exercises to explore what you value in your life, then helps you translate that into creations and spaces that reflect your values, your dreams, and your spirit. With a home like that, how could you go wrong?