I have been a lifelong lover of home decorating. I remember watching decorating shows with my mom as a little girl, visiting our local Street of Dreams, studying my favorite rooms in old issues of House Beautiful, Country Living, Better Homes + Gardens, Blueprint and (my personal favorite) Cottage Living. I’ve learned from my mom, my sisters, my aunts, and mother-in-law what it means to create a welcoming, beautiful, personal home.
As I have grown and had the chance to decorate our own homes – first a little apartment, then a tiny falling-down bungalow, then a suburban builder-grade and now a big home in the woods – I’ve become more practiced and confident in my own style.
One of my biggest decorating discoveries is that there are a handful of elements that every room needs in order to feel cohesive, balanced and complete.
On my list:
a neutral foundation, texture, mixed patterns, a touch of black, natural wood tones, something personal, fresh greenery
I’m sure you’re not shocked about any of these things, but it is the combination that brings the magic.
Here are a few examples:
Remember our pretty kitchen from the old house? I just love how it was so light and bright, but still had personality, texture and some natural elements.
Our new kitchen has a different, more masculine feel, but has all of the same elements I adore:
You can see each essential element in the living room of our new house as well. That tufted couch is the perfect foundation, the wood of the coffee table and woven tray add warmth and an interesting mix of pattern. The buffalo skull was one of the few things we brought back with us from our family road trip. It gives the perfect little personal touch.
Okay, one more. This is just the bedside setup I have going on my side of the bed. We don’t have a bed frame and haven’t done much in our room since painting the walls and replacing the carpet, but I wanted to show you that it doesn’t even have to be the whole room that is finished and cohesive to incorporate these seven decorating essentials. What makes me love the bedside arrangement is that each one is represented:
I created a video for you that explains each element with many examples of how you can incorporate each one into your room. Enjoy!
SIMPLIFIED DECORATING is open for registration for a limited time.
(This lesson is an excerpt from the online class. The worksheet mentioned in the video is included when you join!)
Thank you! This was fabulous info. You do such a wonderful job explaining each essential and giving numerous examples, love that! I am also encouraged to know that as I look around our home I am not to off the mark with the 7 essentials in several of our living areas. In regards to decorating and understanding my style, it has definitely been evolving over the years. I appreciate this tutorial to assist me as I tackle other rooms in our home. Well done and thank you again!
Oh, how I miss Cottage Living! It was my favorite, too!
I enjoyed this video so much! I love your decorating style and have been incorperating your tips for years. Thanks for sharing!
You need to write a book! :)
This might be a silly question but you mentioned adding branch clippings to a vase. Any tips for this? I did this and they died very quickly (1-2 days). Thank you!
I think some branches just die faster than others – I have found the same to be true. You can try crushing the bottom of the stems with a hammer to open them up a little more to let water in. Some say this is a good idea, others say no. But, hey, it’s worth a shot :)
Where did you find that floral pillow? It really adds the perfect pattern!
I just love that floral pillow. It is from West Elm (http://rstyle.me/~a56rL)
Love this! What a great formula (I’m a math teacher!) for decorating. Thanks for sharing!
Sometimes formulas make things easier!
RIP Cottage Living. When cleaning out a box yesterday, I found some old copies and I was so excited!