Quick Decorating Tips for a Happy Home (some are free!)

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press •June 4, 2016

Try something new with color with this perky blue and green setting with a large-scale graphic pattern (Midland) that has a leaf-like motif and gives a nod to old Federal style wallpaper. The wallcovering shown here is Troy, a small-scale texture with characteristics of a basket-weave. Photo credit: Courtesy of Thibaut.www.thibautdesign.com 

There are a few things that really drive decorators and designers crazy. But the good news: the minute we walk into your house, we can spot them and help you correct them quickly. Today, I am sharing my short list with you and guess what? Many of these can be corrected before you finish reading this article and you don’t even have to get in your car to drive up and down 41 looking for more “stuff” to bring into your house! 

So, if you’re happy with your home sweet home but it doesn’t seem quite right, read on and maybe the one little tweak that you need is listed below. 

Be realistic about a budget.

I've never been into a client’s home that I couldn’t improve.  As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, I have seen it all. Realistic budget. No budget. Tiny budget. I base my decorating on affordable solutions for home décor and I’ve had lots of practice of making a home look great without wrecking your finances. 

It’s important to keep in mind that reality home shows are not a home interior professional’s friend. They give the impression that a designing couple can breeze through your home, redo it from the inside to the outside, all for a song. Quick, beautiful, cheap, fast. It’s just not so and what they do not include are the behind the scene costs and a realistic, honest budget. 

Pretty painted chest set against the backdrop of Thibaut’s Portofino wall covering. These large, stylized, flowers and other fun details make this a striking accent wall. The wallpaper is rotary screen printed, which uses a lot of ink to make the flowers slightly textured. Photo credit: Courtesy of Thibaut.  www.thibautdesign.com

So having said that, whatever your budget, be realistic and honest with yourself. A lot of my tips below are free or require little $$. Others may be something to work toward (phase two, as I say!). The more realistic you are, the happier you will be with your home. 

No plan? Then it doesn’t matter where you are going.

Now that you have a budget nailed down, take some time to get your thoughts organized and develop a plan. This is key to a happy outcome. What are the priorities? What can you do without spending a lot? Do you need a total redo or will a good design plan help to sort out where to begin? Do you need the professional help of a designer or can you do it yourself with a plan? No plan? The result will be a house filled with rooms that all have a different look. 

Please: Say goodbye to these. Now.

Refrigerator magnets. Fake flowers. A lot of junk on top of kitchen cabinets. Enough said about this. 

Pull furniture away from the walls.

Get rid of the uncomfortable conversation area and create some space. A U-shaped arrangement is best.  Sofa and two chairs or two sofas.  We realize the sized of the space dictates placement. Give it a fresh look. 

Declutter. Declutter. Declutter.

I know, I talk about this all the time. But you have to do it over and over. Things have a way of accumulating when you aren’t looking. And without this key element, you may as well not try to make a change. You will just be rearranging the clutter. 

Create a palette: don’t just throw color around.

If you get the color palette right, everything else falls into place. This is my most popular service and the one that homeowners have the most difficulty establishing. And here’s why: it’s not all about putting paint on the wall. It is about creating a color scheme for the entire home and carrying the color throughout in fabric, accessories, window treatments, pillows, etc. This is definitely the tricky part of decorating. The fun part and the most important after your budget and your plan.  So spend some time on this one.   

Decorating: it’s all about you.

It’s not about your neighbors, your relatives who come to visit each year, your bridge club or a friend who has a daughter who is a decorator in another state. We hear these sources of input all the time! Filter out the noise and keep in mind this is your home and your opinion is the only one that counts. 

Curate your own art gallery.

Take a fresh look at your art work. I like to select a space on a wall and make it look like a museum gallery. Place everything on the floor. With painter’s tape, mark off the area you wish to cover on the wall. The best height for your key pieces: eye level. This is usually 57-58 inches from the floor. Once you have the arrangement, you are ready to create your gallery. 

Paint your entry door on both sides.

If you don’t have the time or budget for anything else, give your home a lift and do this one. And here is a tip: paint both sides of the door for a professional design look. My advice: if you love a color but are afraid that it just will not work in your home, use it on the door. 

Don’t fear wall coverings!

For a long time, we focused on paint and textures for walls. It seems that wallpaper (as it was called) went by the wayside. But it’s back and it’s fabulous. Textures, sheens, feathers. Take a fresh look and at least try it for a powder room or an accent wall. 

Don’t love it? Paint it or pass it on.

Have an antique that you no longer love? Like an armoire or chest? Paint it! What good is it if you no longer want it in your home? Our tastes all change and color can change everything. Otherwise, pass it on and let someone else love it. 

Think about white.

It looks beautiful in magazines. White walls. White sofas and chairs. Gorgeous and carefully styled. Do you have the lifestyle for all white? Will you be able to accent with beautiful artwork and accessories to carry it off? If the answer is yes, go for it! If not, rethink this commitment. 

Come into the light!

We can never have enough and right now your home is likely lacking in this area. Because all of us seem to overlook this important element in our homes.  Check all four corners of your rooms for proper lighting. Remember: we need overhead, task and ambient lighting. Make sure you use dimmers and if this is not possible, plugin adapters work fine.  Chandeliers, floor lamps, mirrors and glass doors also reflect light. 

Decorative painting. Ugh.

This was a trend that has (thankfully) passed on. I am not speaking of the beautiful treatments for recessed ceilings. Rather the unfortunate fad of things like sponge painting, globing things like wadded up paper on the wall, stenciling and other horrors. When it comes to wall treatments: a good quality paint in a beautiful color and finish or the most outrageous wall covering you can afford on an accent wall. 

Say goodbye to your unicorn collection.

We all have collections that made sense at one time. But time is the problem. It may be time to say goodbye. If it’s not a priceless collection or one that you absolutely love, it may have outlived its value. So when you are doing your decluttering, you may want to say goodbye and let someone else love it. 

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. Her @home article appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog

 

Tips for designing a home that brings the beach inside

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press •May 7, 2016

If you're like me and your favorite chair is a beach chair, your favorite shoes are flip flops and your preferred color palette is the one in your beach umbrella, you likely love the beach and want to have a little of it in your home.

Whether you live steps from the beautiful Gulf shores of Southwest Florida or just wish you did, you can design your home interior to reflect the colors, feelings and hues that will make you feel the tranquility and beauty that only the beach can provide.

WHIMSICAL CLOWN FISH ARE FROM COLE & SON'S ACQUARIO FORNASITTI II. THE WALL COVERING CREATES A DRAMATIC BACKDROP FOR AN ENTRY TABLE STYLED WITH FAVORITE BEACH-INSPIRED PIECES. PHOTO: COLE & SONS.

Beach house decor style is about a lifestyle. An attitude. It's about living with nature and capturing the essence of a long walk on a beach. Striking that balance between casual and a touch of formality. Collecting driftwood and shells. And finding a way to bring a piece of it home.

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, many of my clients want to incorporate at least some aspect of our environment into their space.  Whether you live in an apartment, condo, single family home or an Airstream travel trailer, it's easily doable. And fun. Check out my favorite tips, pick one and get to work!

Bright and white

Take advantage of the great tropical lighting that we enjoy in this area. You can't beat a white backdrop for your walls. One of my other favorite go-to-colors for a beach cottage  look is Benjamin Moore's Silver Satin. And use Benjamin Moore's Decorator White for trim. Just enough hue and sparkle and has that "old Florida beach cottage" feeling.

Classic coastal color palette

Vintage Ship door sits atop pilings and holds glass layered with sea glass. Photo: Wrenda Goodwyn.

Accessories, fabric, accents are beautiful when done in sea glass accents. Seafoam green/blues. And remember: a bit of turquoise in every room. Even if it's just a bowl of shells mixed with sea glass.

Beach-inspired kitchen

While my favorite kitchen is one done in all white, you can add contrast to white walls with pale grey/blue cabinets. Or bead board (so easy to do this and a great look) in a sea glass tone around the island or bar. Stainless appliances.

 Style a coffee table or entry table

If you don't do anything else, this is the one. It sets the tone of your home. This is where you display your favorite nautical elements: seashells, driftwood, glass jars with seaglass, art, books. I love working books into the mix. Some of my favorites: Island Life by India Hicks and Key West: A Tropical Lifestyle by Leslie Linsley.

Accent walls

For a little beach drama, select a wall in the entry or in a powder room. Cover it in one of the beautiful grass cloth wall coverings or something similar to the whimsical clown fish Cole & Son's Acquario Fornasitti ii. Place this behind your styled entry table or a gorgeous mirror and you don't need anything else to bring the beach home!

Windows

White shutters or light linen drapes are best.  When using drapes, I like to trim them with fabric tape in a sea glass hue. And remember, always hang drapes from just below the ceiling for as much height as possible.

Furniture

Style a bookcase or shelving with a tropical theme. Incorporate white furnishings, white walls and a jute rug. Photo: Pottery Barn. 

It's all about casual comfort. Cushioned or slip covered sofas and chairs will get you the look but you don't need to redo your furnishings. Just add a couple of bamboo chairs and maybe a stool with tropical or white cushions.(Bamboo can be painted: think flea markets). Add a couple of colorful garden stools. These can work as side tables for extra seating. Add colorful pillows.

It's 5 o'clock someplace!

Style a cart with a tiki bar theme. Include artwork on the walls behind the cart and add some of your favorite pieces along with beachy glasses and a plant or two. I like to include a colorful cloth awning over the cart to set it apart.  

Artwork

It's all about color and this is where the room comes to life. I have my clients look through magazines and on Pinterest to seek out paintings and photographs that speak to them and we work it into the mix. One of my favorites: take some your own favorite photographs and stretch them on canvas. This style is perfect for a casual look and is a great memory of someplace you have been.

Flooring

Sand would be perfect for a beach lover but it's best to incorporate natural fiber rugs such as sisal, jute or seagrass. They look great and some of the modern styles have a contemporary look, allowing for trim in coastal colors. Think: coral.

Design your bookshelf

This is one of my favorites. First, pick a sea-inspired color and paint the back of the bookcase or the wall. Creatively, arrange and showcase your artwork, books, driftwood, shells and other elements to give it that "just washed up on the beach look."

Accents

Display your shells in jars and bowls. I like a bowl of shells in every room. There is one by my computer as I write this article. They make me happy and take me someplace else when I have to work can't get to the beach!

Incorporate Capiz mirrors and lighting fixtures.

Purchase bamboo flatware and sea-inspired dishes to use every day.

Add a couple of palm trees to your decor...large or small. They say "tropical" and are good for the air quality in your home.

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog 

 

Home sweet rental home: Make it yours and keep the landlord happy

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • April 9, 2016

Colorful adhesive tiles from Mirth for an entry, bathroom or kitchen.  Photo  Courtesy of Mirth.

Renting. It's a lot like moving into a home that you own. Almost.

You want to repaint the walls. Replace the carpeting.  Hang some artwork.  Update the kitchen. Get new window treatments. Toss out the grungy switch plates. And a lot more.

In other words: you want and need to make the space your own.

But there is the landlord to think about.

Changing drawer and cabinet pulls to personalize your rental decor. Photo courtesy of Anthropologie.

Changing drawer and cabinet pulls to personalize your rental decor. Photo courtesy of Anthropologie.

Maybe you have sold a home and have temporarily moved into a rental space until you decide what to do with the rest of your home-owning life.  Perhaps you are a boomer and plan to free yourself of the responsibility, throw caution to the wind and travel for the rest of your life and keep a rental apartment as a place to come home to. As a Southwest Florida interior decorator,  I've had clients in both rental situations. And many more.

Eventually, we all seem to end up in a rental home for the long or short term.  And the fine line between making it your own and crossing over to where the landlord decides not to give you the deposit back when you leave...well the lines can be a bit blurry.

Before you paint that red accent wall in the entry, you may want to consider a few rental-friendly tips that will have you saying "home sweet home" in no time. And even if you never plan to rent, these tips will serve you well if you are in a temporary situation or just don't have the budget to do everything right now.

It's only paint

It an accent wall or a bathroom with color on the walls will make you happy, do it. Just be prepared to paint it back in a neutral tone when you leave. This alone, can make all the difference in how you feel about your rental space.

Accents

Drawer and cabinet pulls will change your kitchen and bathrooms. Replace them with something that you like and take them with you when you leave. And while you are at it, dump the old switch plates and replace them with new ones. Favorite: the colorful Nannette pull from Anthropologie. 

Change the flooring (some of it).

Peel and stick floor tiles have been around for a while but today, you can find a selection that is colorful and fun. And easy to apply. Sources: Mirth Studio and Home Depot. Try this in an entry, bathroom or kitchen to completely change the look.

Pottery Barn's Lucianna Medallion pole pocket drape  is a great "fix" to add your own look to windows or sliders. Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn.

Window treatments

These are often the worst part of what a landlord leaves for tenants. At best, you may have not so attractive blinds. But this is where you can put some fabric and color into your decor. Invest in some drapes. Or at least drapery panels to give your rooms a little love. One of my favorite, inexpensive go to sources:  the Moorish tiles drapes at Pier One. Or the Lucianna medallion-pole-pocket-drape from Pottery Barn. They come in a variety of colors and great for a temporary fix.

Kitchen backsplash

For a tile look, Tic Tac adhesive tiles. Photo courtesy of Tic Tac Tiles.

This is one of my favorite fixes. Since I always spec a neutral backsplash for my clients when redoing their kitchen, I love the fact that you can do the same thing with Tic Tac adhesive tiles or the Smart Tiles from Home Depot. Completely change the look of your kitchen and remove them when you leave.

You won't believe it's removable wallpaper

ReUsable wallpaper tiles by Hygge and West are removable so you can take them when you leave your rental or enjoy them for a long time. Photo courtesy of Hygge  and West.

You would be surprised to know how many of my clients use this in part-time homes or if they just aren't sure about using wallpaper. And the result: spectacular. You can find these in Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond and other big box home stores. They vary in quantity and in price depending upon how much you want to invest.  My favorite is Hygge and West.  These removable wallpaper tiles can go with you and are reusable. And you will want to reuse them. Beautiful colors and designs that are ideal for renters and temporary installations. A game- changer for a rental property.

Lighting

Overhead lighting may not be the best in your rental home. So invest in a few floor lamps that warm up your rooms. And they will go with you to your next home. If the builder's grade lighting in the bathroom is not working for you, try a lamp on the counter to tone down the glare. Or invest in inexpensive lighting over your mirror.

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog

 

He said, she said...solutions for creating home sweet home when conflicts arise

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • March 5, 2016

Classic and timeless, this elegant bedroom appeals to both sexes. Photo Courtesy of the Henredon Interior Showroom, Hickory Chair Collection.

It was a Saturday morning. One of my favorite, longtime clients called and asked me (begged me) to please head for a local furniture showroom. She and her husband had squared off in opposite corners and could not agree on a piece of furniture to go in a room that had been recently remodeled.

This final selection was one they thought they could do on their own without my help. But they could not agree.

When I arrived, they were not happy. I gathered them both together and the husband said the final decision was mine because they could not possibly agree and he was tired of fighting. So, we worked it out and there was a compromise. Life went on and I am certain they are still married.

Deep tones with rich textures are an ideal compromise between traditional and contemporary tastes. Photo credit: Courtesy of the Henredon Interior Showroom, Hickory Chair Collection.

These challenges are not uncommon. And sometimes in this profession, we are psychologists, marriage counselors and someone to just listen.

Whether it's between spouses, roommates, a parent and child who has moved back home, in-laws in the home or many other configurations of the way we live, conflicts about space are normal.

Maybe two separate households are merging. The conflicts can range from who takes the trash out to how the animal heads on the wall are to blend with the Lilly Pulitzer print drapes.

The bottom line: communication.

I can work with a couple on paint color and tell you exactly how they communicate.

My suggestion when bringing any two people together to decorate a home: diplomacy, humor and some basic respect.

Interior designer, Diane Torrisi, presented a lively "He said, She said" seminar with the Henredon showroom this past week at Miromar Design Center. Along with designer Dirk Anderson, she emphasized the importance of compromise in making home interiors functional for all members of the residence. 

"Compromise is a way of giving up something, most often in order to gain something else." Diane Torrisi of Diane Torrisi Designs

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, I have strategies that I use to help create a "home sweet home" when there are disagreements. Some of these might help if decorating conflicts happen in your home!

Soft hues as a backdrop with beautiful gender neutral furnishings and accessories. Photo Courtesy of the Henredon Interior Showroom, Hickory Chair Collection.

Soft hues as a backdrop with beautiful gender neutral furnishings and accessories. Photo Courtesy of the Henredon Interior Showroom, Hickory Chair Collection.

Do your work before the designer arrives.

Together, look through magazines, set up Pinterest boards, shop (together). Get an idea of where you agree, disagree and where there may be room for compromise.

He likes contemporary, she likes traditional

One of my go-to-sources for seeking examples of compromise is Restoration Hardware. Great examples of a rather utilitarian, minimalist look that allows for pretty accessories to smooth out the look. This helps to define what you can and can't live with.

Color conflict

I encounter this daily. And it's also important to remember that people see color differently. It's very complicated. If one wants tropical colors and the other wants neutral, I usually suggest whites or grays for walls and color in accessories and fabric.

Gender-neutral

Color is no longer quite so gender specific. Many rooms done in reds, blues, greens and earthy tones satisfy both sexes.

No way am I having a recliner

These are not your parent's Barcaloungers. Now they are streamlined and you can't tell they are recliners. Pick out a pretty one and upholster it in a gorgeous fabric. Compromise!

His space/her space

Man caves and she sheds have helped to solve some of these issues. But let's face it, most homes do not allow space for these luxuries. So create a his and her space in the home. A nook or area where each may have their own "stuff." A yoga area for her. A TV area for him.

Merging lives, merging space

This can be tricky. He has his stuff. She has hers. Honestly, it seems to work best when the two start off with a new space that can be "theirs." then go through what might work and what should go. And now, it's time to make new purchases together.

Pick your battles

Some disagreements are not that important. Figure out what you can live with, compromise and go from there. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you have a happy home to call your own and that you are sharing it with someone that you care about.  And when all else fails, call a decorator or designer. We are really good at providing creative solutions to decorating conflicts!

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. Home Inspirations appears the first Saturday of each month. Visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog