Designing in Courses: A Beautiful Home, One Bite at a Time!

It's not uncommon for customers to think or feel they're "supposed to" tackle the designing and decorating of their entire home all at once. In truth though, few people actually approach home design this way, opting instead to break their projects into palatable bites that are, well...easier to swallow, (pardon the pun)!

Who wants to be a glutton anyway? I mean, really, you don't want to be perceived person with the loaded plate leaving the buffet line? Or the gorger basking with pride at the disgustingness of an "I.used.every.topping.they.offered" explosion at the make your own sundae event.

In short, don't treat the decorating process like a buffet - grabbing whatever is in front of you just because it is there. Instead, think ahead as you would in preparing a fine multiple-course meal.

As outlined by our good friend, Wikipedia, "In formal dining, a full course dinner can consist of five, seven, eight, ten or twelve courses, and, in its extreme form, has been known to have twenty-one courses. In these more formalized dining events, the courses are carefully planned to complement each other."

Good design is similar in principle. It takes time and planning, so each space, item, furnishing, fabric, etc., is carefully planned to complement each other.  Good design is much more savory when ideas are allowed to simmer!

The thought of creating a master design plan for you home, can be as overwhelming as standing at the buffet. You find yourself thinking, "how on earth am I supposed to make the "right" choice?" You can call in the troops at that point - your designer or decorator - or you can continue to battle through on your own.

We get it. You want to get it right, but you are living by portion control. That's ok. A good design plan can be worked on in phases. The biggest point to remember: PLAN. As you put all your creative genious to task - or your designers' creative genius - planning will assure you don't end up with a "my eyes were bigger than my stomach" belly ache, because you hastily purchased a bunch of knick knacks, chatskis, photos, pillows, paint colors, etc., all without a single thread of unity.

If you are going it alone, and not ready to call in help, here are a few tips to get you started in an organized and manageable way.

Take some measurements! Having accurate measures of every window and room size in your home is essential for creating floor plans and purchasings blinds, shades and window treatments.

Prioritize the necessities vs. the desired, so you know which items get on the buy list first.

Set a realistic financial plan for yourself. What do you have available to spend? What do you need to save for? This is going to require some research so you know what it costs to buy QUALITY furnishings, which will allow you to budget accordingly.

Create color reference cards for artwork or pre-existing items you have in your home that you'll need to work with. Best way to do this, is to match paint samples to the art and keep these in a reference document.

Collect inspiration images, whether in hard-copy, electronic or online, that capture the feeling that you want to create in your home. Many times it's difficult for people to define their style. If you begin collecting images as you see them, after some time you will likely begin to notice patterns emerge; your style, through what you've collected, will begin to reveal itself.  Perhaps you want a Beach House vibe?

Hopefully, working on these five-steps will set you in motion for well-balanced design decisions that meet your short AND long-term goals!

Tell me, in the comments below, how this post has helped you to think about your projects differently and what area of your home you plan to tackle next!

Facebook Friend's Book Recommendations

Did you know that you could embed posts from Facebook into your website or blog? A while back I posted a query to friends for book recommendations. The result was fabulous, but not a short list by any means.

As many of  you who visit my blog are voracious readers, I thought I'd embed the post here so you too can benefit from the recommendations! Also, this gives me a chance to test out Facebook's embed feature, while providing me with a quick place to check the list - [versus scrolling forever through my timeline without success] - when I'm ready to dive in to a new book. If you've read any of these, or have others to add, please post your thoughts for all in the comment section below!  

If I Only Had an Elf!

A good life, a productive life, all starts with I - or "Y" - because it's all about each of us taking care of ourselves. You taking care of you, that is!

Consider these key points, the ingredients, in my opinion, to productive and happy days, weeks and life. We all go through periods where we forget them or we see-saw back and forth with uneven balance on some and not others.

It can be tough to keep life balanced, but if you can keep all of these things in check, mostly everything seems to stay in check and you may discover yourself moving through to-do list after to-do list with amazing clarity, feeling content and having the brain power to plan with amazing efficiency!

If you aren't keeping these things in check, what is stopping you? It may be your home... that's right, you just knew I would bring this back to the function and aesthetics of your home, right? 

It's true though. You hate your bedroom, the mattress is uncomfortable..... this is not something you should continue to put off. SLEEP is a priority, probably the number one priority; so if you do nothing else, please, please, please do what you can to turn that bedroom into as much of a sanctuary as you can.

Do you exercise? Oh, you can't because you don't have the floor space? There is just no where with any room or the kids toys are all over the place? EXCUSES. Move that coffee table out from the center of the room or take those leafs out of the dining room table to MAKE ROOM TO MOVE! I can't think of one home I've ever been in where there is not a piece of furniture that is rarely used, taking up valuable floor space that would be just enough for a quick daily workout. 

Pamper your elf! That's right... your elf? You've got one, right? I can't believe I just noticed that typo but it cracks me up so I just decided to go with it because.. well, why not, it made me laugh. And we all know LAUGHING is important!! Can you imagine how awesome life would be if we all had a little elf to do all our grunt work for us! Suppose I should add DREAM here!

Of course, that really should say, PAMPER YOURSELF!! Get the rubber duckies out of the tub and splurge a little on some nice bath salts, candles and a bottle of wine and have yourself a soak. Or maybe pampering yourself means something else.. turning a table into a pretty little vanity; buying new, thick, fluffy towels; even setting aside $15 per week for a quick mani or pedi, or getting a new cushion for that chair or window seat so you can sit comfortably. Everyone should have that super-comfortable spot they love to retire to at the end of a long day. Do it!

VACATION! You have to get away. We all have to stop and refuel our minds for the everyday stuff that inevitably becomes so routine. Go. Book it now. If you book it, you will make it happen. As I head out for two weeks of ocean-front vacationing tomorrow, I urge you. Do it! So excited!!

I covered that already, well, sort of. I plan to, on vacation and everyday. Don't take yourself so seriously and learn to laugh at the stresses. It's the only way to make them tolerable in a way that they don't derail your productivity. My parents weren't quite ready to budget in the new wallpaper in our bedroom when I was a kid. So what did they do?.... They took the wallpaper down, gave us carte blanche with our crayons and we illustrated the walls ourselves. They didn't take themselves too serious. We giggled and laughed the whole time doing it and they laughed every time they looked at it.

Be contemplative. Don't always rush to act. MEDITATE! So much of life these days is geared toward capitalizing on people's impulse. I don't work with my clients that way. Trust me, just because everyone and their neighbor, sister, mother and brother has a chevron rug doesn't mean you need one too. Really think about the things you want and plan for them. That will ensure you make decisions to invest in things you love now and will love for years to come.

EAT WELL to LIVE WELL! I can't stress enough the effects that you will discover when you eat as clean and natural a diet as possible. There is a direct correlate to what you consume and take in to your body and how you relate to the world around you. You will be more calm, clear-headed and energized. If you are transforming your diet and paying closer attention to what you eat and it hasn't changed the way you respond to the physical world around you, well, I won't believe you. It's just not possible. Food fog - the brain we get when we eat crap - is sure-fire fuel for failure and bad decisions. Fact. 

WATER is the most essential nutrient our body needs. Just as we are over-stimulated by technology, so too are we over-stimulated by sugary drinks, snacks and fast-food these days that our minds are tricked [aka brainwashed] to crave these things in preference of water. Do I really even need to talk about this? We all know it, but yet we don't do it. I'm guilty. I have to remind myself and I fall off the wagon too. Our human failing is that we so often have a hard time remembering to do the things that are so easy and good for us. So here is a reminder of all the reasons why we need to do better!

Oh and no worries, you can drink your wine too! 4 oz. seems to be the prescribed amount, according to researchers and our medical professionals. Let's just all be happy I won't be there measuring out your wine as long as you promise not to measure mine either! 

And finally, TAKE BREAKS! This is different than sleep and meditating. This is about knowing when enough is enough and recognizing when you are trying to do too much too quickly. Learn to know when it's more productive to take a 10-minute walking-off-the-job to step outdoors and breathe in some fresh air timeout. Recognize when it's time to let go of the I-need-to-get-this-done-now frenzy because you just came home with a trunk full of imported "pretties" [for now, anyway] made of MDF and particle board because you have a party in a week and the stuff you really wanted wouldn't be ready in time. Yikes. Don't.Do.This! Be patient. Chill and breathe so you make the decisions that make the most sense long term, rather than instant gratification for the moment.

Would taking care of ourselves and getting things done be easier if we had an Elf?

I'll ponder this while I'm on vacation. WATER, WINE and SLEEP. Oh yeah, that's where I'm headed.

See you in September!!

Do You Want to Sleep Over?

Earlier this year I had my brother and his family (8 people) staying with us. With only a bath and a half and three guest bedrooms, we surprised ourselves when the ten of us were all standing in my kitchen, showered, dressed and ready to go fifteen minutes early. I don't accomplish that feat when it's just the two of us! It dawned on me that this was the type of scenario that I often talk about when working with clients: the importance of considering daily comfort, while being flexible enough that you're prepared to entertain or welcome additional guests at any time.

It's easy to fall to beliefs that we need so much more than necessary; this visit validated that for me. Could we have slept a little longer with a few more bathrooms? Yes. Do we need a few more bathrooms? No.
Our home, like so many homes, is a work in progress. I have no shortage of desires on my wish list of wants but I try to keep them in perspective, with an eye always on practicality. When you suddenly have eight extra people in your home, you can see pretty quickly if that practicality paid off. When my brother and his family arrived, my new drapes were not hanging yet, air mattresses were required and matching sheets and pillows were sparse for ten. Did it matter? No. What mattered was that everyone had a place to sleep, everyone was comfortable and that we could all be together. Do you want to guess what I found my biggest need to be? ....... I need more blankets! Now let me tell you, that's a far cry from the faulty internal home assessment that plays on loop in my head most days!

Thanksgiving at my sister's house - Kennebunk, ME 2011
My father would say our home (growing up) was lived in and comfortable. He appreciated a well-dressed home, but he appreciated a home full of laughter even more, regardless of whether it was slightly worn or sparkling new. A place to gather that offers casual comfort, hot water and plenty of towels and your pretty much all set for house guests. "Home is about the people you share it with, not just the things you have in it", is something he would say.

I've been thinking a lot about this today, on what would have been my father's 87th birthday and earlier this week, when my niece was blessed with the birth of her daughter, Maddie. I've been focused on celebrating the "haves" with no thought to "have nots".

We grew up with furniture that I thought was a hundred years old. What did I know? That furniture stood up to myself, my 12 siblings and our friends. Good thing I've gotten smarter over the years! Today, the old sofa, sits reupholstered -by Storibook Designs - in my sisters living room. Lived in and comfortable. It's a good philosophy for life and equally valid as a philosophy for design too.

When you are taking note of your wish lists, be sure to add up what you already have. That includes much more than possessions. The most important inventory to be taken is whether or not your home supports the way you want to live, with the people you want in it. Do you have dining, gathering and sleeping flexibility? Does it function well for you every day? Taking inventory from that perspective can help you to stay more focused and reasonable in your planning. 

I didn't always listen to my father as a kid. When I would moan and say, "I want,... I wish,... why can't we..", he always had a logical answer. Kids hate logic. I was no exception. "Pfhssst", was my dismissive reply. Thankfully, I've gotten smarter over the years. Smart enough to realize the wisdom of my father's words and perspective. A well-designed home is simple. Home should be pretty enough to please you, sensible enough to accommodate you and always ready for a sleepover!

In memory of my father, David Towler Devaney
7-18-26 to 11-9-13

Rumpus Rules: Deciding between One Cushion or More?

There are so many things to think about when it comes to upholstery and one of them is the number of seat cushions to order for a sofa.
  • Does the size of the rump or rumpus activity that the sofa will be exposed to matter? 
  • Is the sofa for looks or for serious lounging? 
  • Will one person tend to "claim" the sofa or will it be most often shared by several? 
I kid you not, all of these things are valid to consider when trying to decide on going from one to two or three cushions to a long single cushion.

The Pro's:
  • A single cushion is great for sleeping on because there won't be any cording or gaps between cushions to cause discomfort. Let's face it, if your goal is to purchase a sofa - or create a window seat - for lounging and napping, the one-cushion route just may be your preferred option.
  • It just looks nice! On many styles - a camel back sofa, for example - it is often just more aesthetically pleasing with one cushion.Clients sometimes get stuck on thinking that the number of back cushions must equal the number of seat cushions. You can see here, that is not the case.
The Con's:
  • Sometimes a foam cushion, depending on the density and amount of regular use it gets, has a tendency to wear more quickly in the center, causing the ends to pop up a bit on a long cushion. Consider the type of use your sofa will get. If you have this concern, there is always the option of clips to secure cushions to main body of sofa.
  • The most critical, in our mind, is the activity level of the household. There is a possibility the cushion may get soiled. With multiple cushions, you can replace just one. On a large cushion, if there is a damage or soil, the entire piece will need to be replaced.
So what is your position on this? What will work better for you, single or multiple cushions?

How many cushions? free polls 

Is this to much to think about to go it alone? If you are in the market for a sofa, Storibook Designs can help you. In addition to upholstery services, we offer custom-made furniture to your specifications. And yes, in case you haven't figured it out by the photos that have been shared, Pearson is one of our preferred vendors. Their furniture styling, quality and fabric offerings make choosing them a no-brainer. Take a peek at the range of amazing fabrics your furniture can be created in!

If you are ready to forge ahead on your own, you may also find our previous posts on what to look for when purchasing a sofa here and here quite helpful. If it's pure eye-candy inspiration you want; hop on over to our curated sofa board on Pinterest.

Finally, we also provide shopping services so you can hire us to shop for a sofa with you, so no matter where your at in the hunt for your new furniture, we've got you covered! Get in touch!

We always love to hear your feedback. If you appreciated this post, please leave a comment below!

Thanks so much!

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