Five interior decorating lessons I learned the hard way

Most interior decorating articles involve a picture of a beautiful room. This is not one of those articles. Like most amateur interior decorators, I’ve learned many lessons through trial and error. The good news is, my mistakes don’t have to become your mistakes. For instance, although paint is one of the least expensive decorating options, it can be costly when it’s not done properly.

Painting is a simple fix, right? For some reason, the old owners of our house decided to paint every common room with one wall of sea-foam green. It was all right (for now) in the bathrooms, but the living room and dining room didn’t mesh with our Southwestern decor. Time for a little painting. So off we go with some beautiful paint. We slapped it on the walls in a heartbeat. It was absolutely gorgeous; for about two weeks. That’s when it started to peel.

Lessons 1 and 2 learned:

  • Old houses have several layers of paint that need to be stripped.
  • Always use primer, even if you’re putting dark over light.

So what if our house needs a few cosmetic changes? We bought a house that needed a bit of elbow grease. It has beautiful hardwood floors. Unfortunately, the old owners did half a re-finish job on them. They didn’t continue the stain into the closets. We figured we could match the stain and just extend the work. Not so fast. Matching stain isn’t that easy. Now we have to do the entire surface of all the wood floors over.

Lesson 3 learned:

  • Re-finishing wood floors is an all or nothing proposition.

We thought we could update our counters one step at a time, too. In our “new to us” home, we have old white tile counter-tops. We knew we would have to replace them. Our idea was to replace the broken tiles first, tolerating the look until we could afford new counter-tops. Not so fast. We purchased what we thought were matching tiles. They once were. Problem was, we didn’t account for aging.

Lesson 4 learned:

  • If you have to replace aging tile, plan to replace all of them at once. Tiles yellow with age.

In the kitchen and one bath, we have lovely vinyl covering hardwood. How awesome! Let’s get rid of that vinyl and uncover the hardwood. Problem? There was a reason for the vinyl. The hardwood underneath was damaged and warped. This is not something we can fix ourselves. Now we have to buy new vinyl until we can afford to pay someone to repair and re-finish the hardwood, as well as blending it in with the other finished floors.

Lesson 5 learned:

  • Budget for professional help before you tear up the floor.



Shabby Chic Storage Accessories for the Living Room

A shabby chic living room is just not complete without the addition of some storage accessories to add class to the room. There are hundreds of different ways that you can store items in the living room and still maintain a shabby chic appeal. Here are a few of my favorite ways to store small items in the living room while staying shabby chic and organized at the same time!

Canisters: Those old canisters that grandma used to have all over the house are a great way to store small items and stay organized and maintain the shabby chic appeal of the room. Shabby chic canisters can be found at thrift stores or you may even have some of them laying around the house already making them a very economical choice for storage too!

Baskets: Baskets and more baskets it seems like you just can’t get enough of them when you are trying to give your home a shabby chic style. If you have raw wood baskets already then a quick coat of white paint can be used to give them a more shabby chic décor. Rough the paint up a bit once applied to give the baskets a truly shabby chic distressed look. Just about anything can be stored in the baskets from magazines to television remotes and knick knacks.

Jars: While jars are likely not the most common living room storage container they are great for small table top items. Do you keep a pen or pencil by your favorite chair in the living room? A jar is a great way to store small items such as pens and pencils, paper clips, candies, and other small living room accessories that are commonly lost if just left out on the table.

Shelving: Adequate shelving space can be the answer to your storage nightmares. To create shabby chic living room shelves give old shelves a coat of paint and distress the wood a bit with sand paper after painting. You may also want to try a crackle finish on the shelving to create a weathered look that is truly perfect for a shabby chic designed living room décor!

Cabinets: You can often find small cabinets that are perfect for shabby chic décor at thrift stores or yard sales. Do not fill the living room with large cabinet pieces but rather with small corner cabinets or single wall cabinets that have glass fronts so that the inside items in the cabinets can be showcased! This will give the living room a truly shabby chic look and ample storage space for all those little knick knacks!


How to Decorate Your Home in Shabby Chic Decor

What is shabby chic décor? In a nutshell, it is anything that looks or feels old that is being recycled, reused or renewed as part of your décor. Some people refer to shabby chic as being vintage – – period furniture, old fabrics (especially florals), chandeliers, slipcovered sofas and antique lamps. These items can be found at flea markets, yard sales, thrift stores and even your finer retail establishments are great places to shop for your shabby chic decorating items. However, be careful not to go “too shabby” or you will end up with something that is more “dumpster” defunct (which is not attractive at all) rather than shabby chic.

Shabby chic décor is not as easy as throwing together some scratched up wood furniture, vintage lamps and a slipcovered couch. It does take planning and a careful eye to piece together the perfect combination of vintage pieces to arrive at a shabby chic abode. The first decision you must make before purchasing one item is what color scheme you want throughout your home (or the room you are redecorating). Shabby does not mean mismatched or uncoordinated; therefore, throwing color schemes together that are not compatible will not give you the effect that you desire. White or cream is the base color for most shabby chic with soft pale colors of blue, green, yellow and pink as accent colors. Once you have chosen your color scheme, it is time to begin choosing your furniture and accessories to turn your home into a shabby chic heaven.

Furniture is usually the one item that breaks your budget when decorating. However, with shabby chic you are reusing and recycling old furniture making this decorating style very affordable for your home. Think of old, wooden pieces of furniture with peeling or chipped paint (be careful of this if you have small children in your home) that you can refinish. Shop yard sales and thrift stores for furniture that is considered outdated or antique looking. Often you can purchase these items for practically nothing and use slipcovers, reupholster with a vintage fabric or paint/varnish to create a wonderful shabby chic item for your home.

When choosing your fabrics, think in color schemes of pale pinks, roses, blues, greens and yellows. Floral patterns and stripes are popular and may be mixed together in complimentary patterns. Fabrics look as if they have been used over a long period to create that worn, vintage appearance. Try draping pretty linens over a plain, wooden chair in a corner in your bedroom or kitchen as an accent piece. On the other hand, you may want to leave the bottom drawer of an old dresser open to showcase vintage linens and an old black and white picture in a Victorian frame.

Bedspreads made of white chenille with intricate patterns are the perfect shabby chic item to have in your bedroom. Use pillows with mint green, pink and yellow dainty flowers to accent the white bedspread. Try draping a vintage piece of old lace or place lace doilies on the top of an old dresser and use old perfume bottles as decoration. Vintage and antique looking lamps are a wonderful accent to a small bedside table.

Quilts are another versatile shabby chic décor item that can be used in many areas of your home. Drape quilts over chairs in your living room or bedroom or hang small quilts on the wall for accent items. If you purchase old wooden chairs for your dining room table, consider painting them a cream or white shade and using an old quilt to cover the seats of the chairs.

One of my favorite shabby chic ideas is for the bathroom – – transform an old dresser into a sink and vanity. Paint it white and add ceramic drawer pulls with a French rose on them. Look for a basin that is slightly chipped that has a “lived” with appeal.

I found when I first attempted shabby chic décor that I was overwhelmed and had no clue what to do. I found that looking at websites that offered brand new shabby chic décor and furniture helped me get a feel for the design technique. This also helped me begin to look for items at thrift stores and other places that were inexpensive but had the same appeal as the new items. Try Not To Shabby or Cottage Chic Store to get ideas.


Creating a Shabby-Chic Bedroom for Your Toddler

Creating a Shabby-Chic Bedroom for Your Toddler

Creating a shabby-chic bedroom for your toddler can be very fun and often doesn’t have to be expensive. Using simple detail and thought when going for the shabby-chic look may be easier than you think, and it can create less of a hole in your pocket than expected. shabby-chic refers to a worn-out look, somewhat old, using cream colors, light pinks and pastels of all sorts. Using old items, yet with a little class left in them, can make a shabby-chic room stick to its name. For instance, and old style telephone with mint gold accents still attached would be perfect for any shabby-chic room, in the case of a toddler, an old tea set with the shiny rims still in tact can create the look easily.

Starting with the color of the walls is a great idea. A simple washed-out white or cream color would be perfect, if you want it a tad tarker, opt for an egg shell yellow. If you have hardwood floors, find a unique rug with extremely light colors with a possible floral design thats easy to match your other accessories with. Try to stick with light colored wood in oak colors for your furniture, if you want more of a whiter style, finding an old, distressed furniture bedroom set of white pieces would look fabolous. Try thrift shops or even yardsales to find shabby-chic furniture, without spending a pretty penny.

Accents in the room can be of all sorts to stick with the shabby-chic decor you are going for. As mentioned above, a tea set would look great on an old miniature dining table in the middle of your daughter’s room. You can hang a round canopy from her bed, and use some crafting skills of your own by buying shabby-chic flowers that can be found at any craft store and drape and pin around the canopy to dress it up. White and silver antique styled frames with butterflies and gems atop of the furniture could really dress this room up also. These can be found at discount department stores such as Marshalls and TJMAXX for about $6.00. Old style vases with fresh flowers would also doll the room up and make it look alive and fresh. If you can find an old toy chest, and distress it yourself, that would be another fantastic piece to add to your daughter’s shabby-chic styled room. A vintage mirror that stand by itself would be another perfect item to add.

Keep in mind when shopping for shabby-chic, you want an “elegant and classy” look, with noticeable aging to the items you are choosing. Anything with detailed rod iron work in white, brass or silver also dresses up the shabby-chic design. Since you are creating the shabby-chic look for your toddler, try to find vintage items appealing to the age bracket. A used, wooden horse or even wicker items can bring out the shabby-chic in the room even more. Fabrics should be of light colors also, with floral designs if you like. A modern chandelier with and old-style feel can finish the room for an overall shabby-chic toddler’s bedroom design!


How to Spruce Up Old Furniture

Unless you have taken the Shabby Chic decor to a new level, you might want to spruce up your old furniture in your home. Evaluate the condition of your furniture to determine if the piece needs a good cleaning, some polishing, refurbishing or a total makeover.

Wood Furniture

Wood furniture which is in decent shape needs to be cleaned. For wood surfaces, Murphy Oil Soap Spray with Orange Oil is useful for cleaning wood trim on furniture, or small tables. For small nicks or scratches, rub in some liquid wax stick made for sprucing up wood furniture.

For wood furniture which as seen better days on its finish, lightly sand it down, fill any holes with wood putty and secure any loose pieces. Some pieces may also need to be stripped with paint stripper. Varnish or paint the piece and when its dry, add new non-scuff adhesive circles to the bottom.

For chairs with removable cushions, remove the cushion and add new fabric, using a staple gun to attach the fabric to the bottom. Adding cushions to wooden chairs is another way to spruce them up. If you cannot find chair cushions you like and you don’t sew, purchase any discount or cheap cushions and place them inside trimmed pillowcases.


Following the upholstery instructions for cleaning your specific fabric, and spot shampoo with a light detergent to remove any stains. Secure or replace any wobbly couch legs. When your upholstery has suffered from pets and kids, or too many cocktail parties, but the furniture is still solid and comfortable, your best solution is a fitted slipcover. The beauty of a slipcover is that it makes it easy to not only spruce up your old furniture, but you can also change the room’s decor. Slipcovers are washable and it’s easy to keep the room looking spiffy and ready for drop-in company.

Metal Furniture

Metal furniture can be spruced up in a jiffy with some metal furniture spray paint. You need an outdoor space, a non-rainy day and a couple of hours of drying time. Turn any metal shelves from drab to fab with pewter or silver paint, and give new life to any metal tables or TV stands.


Spruce up desktops in a home office or the kids room by lining the drawers with a colorful, patterned contact paper. A sheet of contact paper can also be placed on top of the desk. Try a strip first, as some comes off more easily than others.

Kitchen and Dining Tables

Once you’ve cleaned, polished and repaired any tables, particularly dining tables, keep a thick table mat on the table, underneath a tablecloth to keep it from being damaged from water stains or pots and pans if you bring those to the dining table.


Shabby Chic Living Room Dcor on a Budget

Shabby chic is one of the easiest styles to create on a budget. Shabby chic style and décor just happens to be one of the only decorating styles that entails a mixture of old and new that when combined creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. Creating a shabby chic living room that your friends and family will love to spend time in is very simple to do on a budget. Using the existing furniture and items that you already have around the house, you can create a shabby chic living room décor on a budget with just a few additional accents that make the entire room come together.

Shabby Chic Furnishings for a Living Room: A shabby chic living room should include a big cushiony couch and wood style coffee tables as well as end tables or lamp tables. The furniture that you already have for the living room can be made into a shabby chic furniture just by using chenille throws on the couches and mismatched pillows that will coordinate with the décor. When choosing mismatched pillows for the shabby chic décor make sure that you choose pillows that vary in size and texture as texture plays a big role in creating a shabby chic design.

Shabby Chic Living Room Lighting: The lighting in your living room may or may not already be shabby chic. An old chandelier or hanging lantern style light for the corner reading area of the shabby chic living room can usually be found even for the lowest budget price and it makes a great addition to a shabby chic living room. Other lighting options for a shabby chic living room include traditional table lamps and wall sconces for ambient lighting.

Shabby Chic Living Room Flooring: Even a tight budget usually leaves room for the use of shabby chic flooring in the living room. If the room is already carpeted then the addition of some shabby chic rugs may be the most budget friendly answer. For living rooms that are not carpeted or for a budget that maybe could spare a bit more on the flooring, a shabby chic whitewashed oak or milk wash type laminate flooring can be found and installed rather easily and inexpensively.

Shabby Chic Living Room Accessories on a Budget: Shabby chic décor can be summed up by the accessories that are in the room. A living room that is shabby chic may include candle holders, distressed wood shelves on the walls, mismatched magazines and books on the coffee table, and of course, lace. Shabby chic must include the lace and curtains in the living room are a great way to add some shabby chic style to the décor. Lace curtains are simple to make or very budget friendly to purchase pre-made and ready to hang.


Natural Behr Paint Colors for the Shabby Chic Kitchen

Natural Behr Paint Colors for the Shabby Chic Kitchen When thinking of natural hues, many Behr paint colors come to mind. The shabby chic kitchen should be a warm and inviting place, and the Behr paint color that you choose for the kitchen can make all the difference. From coordinating with kitchen cabinets to appliances, there are many different from Behr Paints that are just perfect for the kitchen. Here is a list of the best natural toned Behr paint colors for painting a shabby chic kitchen.

Shabby Chic Natural Behr Paint Colors for the Kitchen:

Country Beige is a really warm Behr paint color that is great for shabby chic kitchen decor. The color is #760C-2 and it is a red undertoned natural Behr paint color. The color is like a tan but not so yellow. Country Beige one of many Behr interior paint colors that coordinates well with kitchen cabinets that are natural wood tones.

Another great natural paint color from Behr paints to choose for a shabby chic kitchen is #730C-1 called White Clay. This white color is perfect to go with the lace that is likely to be found within your shabby chic kitchen. This is one of the Behr paint colors that is cool but not cold and definitely will help with relaxation in your kitchen. It also coordinates well with a tile backsplash or countertop.

Raffia Cream #710C-2 is another one of the natural Behr paint colors that coordinate wonderfully with a shabby chic kitchen motif. This kitchen paint color is really great if your kitchen connects openly to your dining room or living area. It will not darken the shabby chic kitchen to the point of making even a smaller kitchen feel tight but it is a warm Behr natural paint color.

Ancient Stone Behr paint color #790A-2 is a beautiful grey tone that is excellent for a shabby chic kitchen. It coordinates with fiberglass countertops as well as with darker granite or granite style countertops. This is one of the most natural looking Behr paint colors for the kitchen. It also looks great with stainless appliances!

Finally, a very light and beautiful Behr paint color that is perfect for a shabby chic style kitchen is called Malibu Coast #230E-2. This is one of many Behr paint colors that has a hint of color but is not overdone. Malibu Coast will not draw too much attention but it is definitely an eye catcher. This Behr paint color will definitely brighten up the kitchen and coordinates well with whitewash style cabinets and furniture.


Shabby Chic

Shabby Chic I decided to talk about the ever more popular style of decorating today, shabby chic, because it is so appropriate for the economic times we are dealing with. Without a doubt, this is the most economic form of decorating you can choose, since the main rule is “if it is old, worn, and used, its perfect!”

Worn (not torn), faded, vintage upholstery, curtains, tablecloths, bed linens, and rugs are what you are looking for. Wooden furniture should be distressed (like most of us, these days), banged up, with worn corners, or, if painted, should be peeling and chipping.

Don’t get me wrong, here, Folks! I’m not talking about cheap crappy furniture that fell apart. I am referring to high quality pieces, and once beautiful fabrics, picture frames, and chandeliers, that were lovingly used, and have faded and worn out over time. Cottons and linens should be either white, or pastels that have faded and bleached out over the years.

Painted furniture is also white or pastel, with many layers of paint, worn through in spots to show previous colors. Don’t mistake this style for a rustic look. While rustic may also be shabby, it is usually furniture of a simpler, more primitive design. Shabby chic can be very grand, elegant, and even formal. Think of it in the same light as a vintage wine!

Yellowed lace, fabric that is heavily patterned with roses, chenille bedspreads, lots of candles, old photographs and tintypes in filigreed silver frames are what you should be scouting around for. Hand painted (and chipped) ceramic vases filled with roses can sit proudly in every room. Iron beds, candelabras sitting on doilies, rusty outdoor furniture will complete your look.

Don’t overcrowd your rooms with “stuff.” Keep it light and airy, with white or very light walls. Keep your color in your accessories. And don’t be afraid to use slipcovers on pieces that are just a bit too shabby. The resulting look should be comfortable, romantic, and nostalgic.

The best part of all is shopping for your treasures! At a time when budgeting is an absolute necessity, and recycling is urgently needed to save our environment, what could be more fun than hitting the garage sales, flea markets, consignment shops and thrift stores BECAUSE YOU WANT TO?

A word of caution…make sure that what you buy is sturdy, tables and chairs are level, and lamps are properly wired and working. Have fun shopping!


Shabby Chic Decorating Ideas for Your Home

Shabby chic décor is a great way to incorporate a new design into the home without going all out. You may have some various textures or different colors in fabrics, or maybe you just have lots of different furniture for you house and you just are not sure how you can incorporate the design into a shabby chic décor that will work for your home. Here are some shabby chic décor ideas for the home that will make the home look!

Chenille: Chenille fabrics are a great way to add some shabby chic style to the home. Throw a chenille throw blanket over the back of a couch or along the foot of a bed. The coordination of this soft fabric and lace in a shabby chic décor makes all the difference. Paired with an antique white wall or even the use of baby blue in the room this chenille fabric will create a shabby chic look in nearly any room.

Lace: Lace curtains are the easiest way to add a shabby chic décor to the home. Whether it is in the bathroom, kitchen or even the living room, lace curtains are a shabby chic décor accessory that can’t be missed. In addition to lace curtains, you can also add a lace shower curtain to a shabby chic bathroom, or a lace bedspread to a shabby chic bedroom. The use of lace adds a slightly antique look to nearly anything. Shabby chic decorating can be as simple as having an updated room with some lace curtains to draw attention down a bit.

Colors: The colors that you choose for a shabby chic room make all the difference in the overall décor of the home. Baby blue works well for a country style shabby chic living room, kitchen or bedroom. Dusty roses are another great choice for shabby chic living rooms and bedrooms. For the kitchen, an antique white paired with lavender or baby blue floral prints are the perfect shabby chic addition to the home. Try painting the kitchen cabinets antique white and use a baby blue or peony tone for the walls. Lace curtains and some chair cushions in floral prints will complete the look

Texture: The various textures that are used in the home can add some shabby chic design and themes to each room. Different fabrics will create a different theme in each room from the kitchen to the bathroom and the living room. For the bedroom, to create a shabby chic look, try using chenille fabrics, various paint colors, and of course lace curtains to finish off the look. Mix an match different textures in the room to create a shabby chic decor. Shabby chic decorating is very simple when you use what you have on hand and maybe pair it with something new that isn’t so shabby–more along the chic line.

Incorporating Various Items: The use of various items will add to the shabby chic look of a room. This is not to say that a shabby chic design is thrown together and not well planned…what this means is that a shabby chic décor is well planned and all the elements of the design work well together. The textures, designs, colors and overall feel of the room feel well together and work well together. Various items of the room can be incorporated together to create an overall design that functions and performs up to desired standards!

Distressed Look: Furnishings can easily be given a distressed look by using some sand paper to scuff up the edges of wood furniture and accessories. Picture frames can be painted with an antique white finish and then distressed around the corners and the edges using sand paper. This shabby chic look will add some style to nearly anything in the home!


Tips on Ecologically Decorating Your Home

Tips on Ecologically Decorating Your Home Go green was once believed to be a fad of its day. Pricey green innovation has long held the stigma for being the fashionable and politically correct for those who can afford it as known as the very wealthy. However, go green in your home has come a long way from its exorbitantly priced and not so humble beginnings. Whether you’re after the shabby chic look for your homes new look or the elegant and traditional by using the recycled materials whenever and wherever you can shall keep you well in the black when it comes to the budget for the redecoration project.

When decorating large areas of the home paint is generally speaking the most economical way to go. Let’s face it, conventional paint is very hazardous to ones health. The pollutants contained in even the leading paints manufacturer’s products are well above levels found from outdoor paints. It is believed the that toxic levels found in conventional paints along with poor ventilation has led to damage causing effects on the body such as headaches, asthma, fatigue and even heart disease.

Finding eco-friendly paint for your DIY project means you are instantly creating a healthier environment for your home and the environment. New ecological paint options should emit little or no VOCs. These paint products tend to be of a water base which is safer to use and gentler on the environment. “Low-VOC” stamp of approval means that the product is definitely approved by EPA standards. The selection of paint and colors are becoming more readily available as the demand for healthier paint products increases.

When looking at the most viable and ecological option to use for furnishing your home look no further than your nearest scrap yard. This may sound most thrifty but there are great finds to hand for those determined enough. A great substitute for buying an expensive dining table from the local home depot or furniture shop is instead to search around your local wood yard for reclaimed wood to use as the table top. That and a basic table DIY kit will create the prefect rustic or elegant dining table depending on the type of wood finish you choose.

Keeping in mind that saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure shall help you navigate through salvage yards with gusto. Using reclaimed wood for larger furniture items such as bed frames, desks and side tables will provide a new stylish look for your home all at an extremely affordable cost. Whether you leave the original finished on the wooden pieces found in the salvage yard or apply eco-friendly paint from your supply of Low VOC paint collection the beauty of the wood shall shine through.

Making something as simple as a wall of water from recycled jars which are stacked on a window seal creates a cooling effect that lowers the heat absorption throughout the day. This works best when placed in the west facing windows of your home. Replacing old carpet is easier than you think. If you are fortunate enough to have good hard wood flooring underneath your tattered carpets then polish them up.

Another great alternative is replacing them with an inexpensive non-toxic carpet option called carpet squares. This carpet option literally comes in sizeable squared carpet form. They are easy to apply to the floor and come in an array of non-toxic dyes colors. Most carpet manufacture’s produce carpet squares from recycled materials making them wonderfully friendly to the environment. Decorating your home with green and environmentally friendly options can be a fun and educational method to introducing the entire neighborhood to ecological wonders also known as “Going Green.”