Products in this post may contain affiliate links

5 Lessons We Learned the Hard Way in Designing a New Space

Lesson learned: Never, ever impulse-buy furniture.
Author:
Publish date:
154885888_2217240838407188_1665277829649197950_n
IMG_0299

I'm someone who never tires of neutrals. Whether we're talking about a plain Oxford shirt tucked into denim or a classic black dress, the vast majority of my wardrobe is rooted in pieces I can wear forever. I've since applied the same approach when it comes to our home and luckily, our interior designer Katie Hodges specializes in gorgeous muted palettes. In designing the spaces together, I realized that having a neutral, timeless home or a house that "isn't boring" are not mutually exclusive. It all comes down to keeping textures in mind, utilizing patterns, and having select pops of colors, like a bouquet of flowers or a pretty candle, so that the room itself feels sophisticated and serene. 

Still experimenting with placement and styling for my most recent investment piece, called "Solo Float" by Max Wanger (which felt very applicable for this time in my life)

Still experimenting with placement and styling for my most recent investment piece, called "Solo Float" by Max Wanger (which felt very applicable for this time in my life)

I have always loved art, and truly believe that the art you surround yourself with can not only affect the vibe of your home, but how you feel when you're there. Since graduating college I've suffered from major sticker shock when shopping for art, and had never purchased an "investment" piece that I truly loved until last fall. In summer 2020, I felt a hurried need to finish decorating my apartment after living there for six months (with no art on the walls or otherwise). I "designed" and purchased a gallery wall for my living room that was made up of six smaller pieces in a cohesive color palette that felt more accessible, but hated it when they arrived. I didn't connect to any of the pieces at all, but they were all final sale, and it completely crushed me. After celebrating my 31st birthday, I decided it was time to take a different approach. I fell in love with a piece by photographer Gray Malin, which I purchased last fall and included as one of my best buys of 2020. I still get happy feelings from it every time I walk into my living room. After talking to my parents about it recently, I realized that one large piece of art from my childhood home in Minnesota made the move with them to Arizona a few years ago–they've had this one piece for over 30 years, and will likely have it for 30 more. Getting over the initial sticker shock, saving up, and purchasing art I truly love has made a big difference in how I feel about my space, and has taught me a valuable lesson about investing in things that will last.

Meesh in our as-of-yet unuseable dining room space (until we find the perfect table!)

Meesh in our as-of-yet unuseable dining room space (until we find the perfect table!)

I have a tendency to settle into a place as soon as possible—in the past, I generally have every box unpacked and broken down with art on the walls within 24 hours, which is chaotic and hellish, but worth the feeling of being settled. When we moved into our house, I tried to get settled as quickly as possible, but ended up wasting time and money by trying to design things before I had a sense of what was right for the space. I painted an entire room the wrong color, after testing only one swatch, had to return a rug I bought in a rush, and would have purchased the first good-enough dining table I saw if Jonah hadn't stepped in as the voice of reason. 

We have a long list of things to improve in our home, from small aesthetic changes to major renovations (adding a fence, installing a gas fireplace, replacing overhead lights and broken built-ins), but I've already seen how doing things slowly can save time in the end: The best ideas and purchases for your space only come to you once you've lived in it for a while. And while the easiest option for the dining table may be tempting, the right one will find you if you hold out just a little longer!

IMG_6547

When I spotted this gilded bed frame from CB2, I quickly showed it to Justin, told him it was exactly what I was looking for to accomplish our Pinterest-perfect bedroom mood board, and added it to my cart. When it arrived and we assembled it a few weeks later, I was pleased with the quality, but disappointed in the height—even with a mattress, it sits at less than 20 inches above the ground, which unfortunately became a double whammy because it made the nightstands I'd purchased look *way* too tall for the setup. We considered every workaround, like adding bed risers or a box spring under the mattress, but nothing made sense with this particular piece. So we wound up in a conundrum: swap the nightstands and keep our extremely low-to-the-ground bed, or sell the bed frame and opt for another. In the end, we ordered a custom piece from Clad Home (that's currently in the works!) at the recommendation of my best friend and Justin's mom who are both interior designers, and I can't help but think about how all of this could have been avoided if I'd only taken a moment to check the height... Lesson learned: Furniture should never be an impulse purchase, and measure, measure, measure.

Two glass pieces I wasn't keen on keeping for myself until I added some flowers and put them on my table. My mind might change, but for now, I'm very pleased with this set up.

Two glass pieces I wasn't keen on keeping for myself until I added some flowers and put them on my table. My mind might change, but for now, I'm very pleased with this set up.

When I moved into my new apartment I was starting completely fresh: A bed frame, dining chairs, and coffee table were just a few of the things I didn't have. Working with a completely clean slate was exciting but also overwhelming for a chronic over-thinker like me. In an effort to avoid impulse shopping, I spent way too much time second-guessing my purchases. Having a vision is important, but the truth is, the only time you'll get to see the full picture is at the very end. Sometimes things don't work out the way you envision them to or you just change your mind. And both are okay, just make sure you always keep your receipts. If a return is out of the question, Facebook Marketplace is your best friend. Enjoy the process of decorating for what it is: a process. Now, I tackle my home decorating piece by piece. It's a lot less daunting than trying to have it all figured out.

Products in this post may contain affiliate links