Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to "Upgrade" Decorate

When you're just starting out in a space that you plan on redesigning or decorating from scratch, there's what I call "Damage Control" to be done. (pic below is a before of my aunt's house, who I helped/ advised during her redecoration.)

These are the obvious things that need to be done and that can be done fairly quickly & fairly cheaply. Things like: painting, tearing up carpet to reveal pre-existing hardwood floors, replacing 80s window treatments or rugs with up-to-dateones, replacing an ugly chandelier, ditching outdated accessories, finding a solution for the worn sofa, creating a focal point, etc. Basically getting rid of anything that disgusts you (yes, strong word, but we know how it can be) and can be fixed easily. (In my aunt's room below, I helped her pick out the sofa- the "before" was taken just after the sofa arrived... the old one was a worn patterned piece- advised on a new rug and recommended she purchase some pillows and curtains with colors from the rugs in them and of course came over and rearranged & reaccessorized using what she already had.)

Now, most of us have what we truly want and what we can actually afford. There are items that we just simply have to save up for, but if we waited until we could actually afford them, our room would look terrible until then. (For example, with the 80s window treatments... If you left them in your room, the space would remain dated no matter what you did. Maybe you can't afford the custom lined linen beauties you want, but you can pick up something more inexpensive from a place like West Elm or Ikea until you can afford your "dream curtains.") Basically you plan on upgrading later. .)
A lot of us can't afford what we want right now but there's no reason our places should suffer style-wise. It's almost always possible to "get the look" for less. We may want the original Saarineen tulip table but if we use a knock-off with good lines, we can still have the same look for less. Eventually, if it's still bothering you, when you can afford the real thing, sell the old piece and buy the "dream item." (The blog Copy Cat Chic recreates looks for less and she's awesome at it!!! I get inspired every time I'm there, so check it out if you're looking for less expensive alternatives.)

(above is the real saarinen tulip table and below is my vintage ebay knock-off)

There are places to save and there are places to splurge. Some things you just might not be okay with skimping on and that's SO important too. If you have some high-quality basic pieces, then your stand-in cheapies will get pulled up to another level and look awesome. We hear it all the time: "A mix of high & low." Big ticket items like sofas and tables can often be expensive to replace, so these are often items I like to splurge on (relative term I know-- I STILL craigslist it haha!) or get right the first time so I don't have to rebuy. (below is a quick pic of my very-unfinshed living room right now --sorry, Christian did the photo styling for this one! toy trucks!!-- the sofa is a Lee Industries sofa (so OUT of my price range) that I found on craigslist & had reupholstered in green velvet... It's a high-quality basic piece that we'll have for a long time. (It's our splurge.) My $30 tool box coffee table looks okay with it for now and I can upgrade it later when the time's right.)

Lighting can also take spaces to another level of beautiful. Splurges here give you a lot of bang for your buck... But there are also some great sources for more inexpensive stylish lighting... It's toally up to you as to what you splurge & save on. We each prioritize differently. (image below from here)

We all have our own things that we wouldn't skimp on. Figure out which items those are and buy high-quality/ buy your dream item up front. Then figure out which items you can upgrade later. We're doing this a LOT right now. I want my house to feel great when I walk in the door, but I can't afford everything I want. I sewed my own curtains and am using all off-the-rack roman shades. (white cotton from Sears and matchstick from Home Depot. I ADORE custom roman shades. LOVE LOVE LOVE them. My clients always get them... but I will have to wait. We need the privacy now and custom shades just aren't in the budget and I'm okay with it because they'll be a great upgrade in the future. :) (hahahah can you just see me twitching & talking to myself right now, "Calm yourself, they'll be upgraded in the future." hahahah)

(image above from Cote de Texas and image below of the Sears shades in our bedroom.)

All of this comes down to being okay with a home that's constantly changing. I think most of us bloggers & readers realize that we're never truly "finished" with our homes. If we were, it would begin to feel stagnant and let's be honest, we decorate because we love it!! ... And I don't mean going out and buying new chairs one month and a new sofa the next, I mean little things: switching out pillows & accents, rearranging and pulling furniture from one room into another, picking up a beautiful vase you find on sale, just keeping it fresh. (Just like a wardrobe... buy some good basic pieces and then accessorize and flush out and keep updated) Allotting a small & very realistic decorating budget to yourself. (Oh please husbands! don't hate me! ;)

Here's my list of things to be upgraded: bedroom curtains, roman shades throughout house, end tables, club chairs, kitchen island, appliances & countertops, coffee table, DR chairs, carpet, doors and hardware, trim, windows, SO MANY aspects of my bathrooms!!! (keeping the green fiberglass shower and hiding it with a curtain until we can afford to redo it, etc.) and much- much more...

So, what are your thoughts on upgrading vs. waiting? Do you have anything you plan on upgrading in the future?