It is one thing to love dressing up and looking pretty, and an entirely different thing altogether to dress up and prettify your living space. This is one realization I’ve just had, having moved away from home and set up my own place in Manila. I was never the domestic goddess type (nor will I ever be, I think)—but I do have a strong preference for anything beautiful, and I couldn’t bear the thought of living in a veritable box without any semblance of character or personality. No, no, no. My new ‘nest’ had to be a reflection of my style, of me.
And so the quest began to decorate, for the first time in my entire life, my own condo. I did consider getting an interior decorator, but then again I was thinking this was something I wanted to do on my own—to fill up a place with things I personally selected and am totally at home in. It wasn’t exactly easy, and there were many times I nearly tore my hair out in frustration, but I survived, and guess what? It was so much fun. The result is something I absolutely love and can actually call home. So here are my tips for decorating, be it just your bedroom for now or an entire house. Hope these will come in handy for you at the right time.
- Choose a theme. Think of it like planning a big party—everything has to revolve around a theme. Otherwise you’ll end up with all sorts of miscellaneous junk and your place will look more like a storage room than anything else. So close your eyes and think about what kind of mood makes you feel the most alive, the most comfortable. Is it something like a beachhouse, with lots of white and blue or pastels? Is it something edgy and urban, with lots of glass and chrome or metals? Is it something feminine, or shabby chic, with country touches and English roses? Or maybe something very elegant and decadent, like a place Jay Gatsby would feel at home in? Mod perhaps, with lots of black, white and red? Or Moroccan, with beautiful colored lamps and hues of orange and purple? How about Parisian, with lots of baby pink and black? Visualize it well and define this theme as you go along the project.
- Make an inspiration board. Once you have the theme, look for pictures and pegs that ‘embody’ what exact things you want to see in the place. Pinterest is a great venue for this, you can choose pictures from all over, discover new ideas, and pin them on your board. It will be that much easier to select furniture and decorations in line with the theme when you have a clearer picture of it in your head. Think about the walls, what exact shade would they be? What about the curtains? Will your furniture be sleek and modern, or more ornate and elegant? What sheet designs or throw pillow designs will you need? When you find pins for these and put them all together on your board, you can see if it all fits well or if there are any clashes.
- Study the layout of the place. You have to know exactly what you are going to put where, and the measurements of these things. For example, you need to know how high the ceiling is, and how large the windows are to be able to select the right curtains and rod. You need to know the dimensions you have when you are looking for a closet, a bed, a couch, center and side tables, a rug, etc. So get that measuring tape, write everything down, and ‘draw’ the design of the place so you can pinpoint the exact pieces you need to buy.
- Keep your eyes open. Go anywhere and everywhere to look for these pieces and never settle for something you aren’t absolutely in love with. You are bound to find what you’re looking for—a beautiful white bed, for example, or a soft gray couch, a sleek white dining set, etc. Check out Mandaue Foam, SM Homeworld or Our Home, Metro Ayala for basic pieces, or go to the Janice Minor showroom in Banilad for interesting, one of a kind pieces. In Manila, there’s Mobler that has some items from Ikea, and the Landmark was also a great source of stuff. You can even go all the way to flea markets for vintage finds like an antique telephone or clock.
- Coordinate your schedule. Believe me , these furniture delivery schedules can be such a nightmare. It is best if you schedule all deliveries from different places (the appliance store and various furniture stores) all in one day. All you need to do is be there the entire day and just wait for all of them to arrive. Otherwise trying to fit them in your regular working schedule, wherein you have meetings and other important events, is just madness—they never arrive on time and your schedule will just get turned inside out. Also, try not to delegate this to anyone. You have to be there to personally make sure that all the items are exactly according to your specifications and have no damage.
- Don’t go overboard. It is tempting to buy everything that catches your eye, but you might end up with lots of redundancies. For example, one set of damask sheets is enough, you don’t have to make your curtains and throw pillows and rug the exact same print too. Use neutrals for some of these to set off the special touches.
- Be practical. Consider your circumstances before making decisions. Let’s say you have a couple of small children—that makes it next to impossible to keep a white or cream couch clean. Choose a deeper color palette like chocolate brown, dark red , navy blue or slate gray instead.
- Don’t scrimp. It is also tempting to pinch pennies on every possible thing. While you need to keep within your budget, this is not always the most cost effective choice. If you buy cheap items, you’ll end up with poor quality things that you’ll have to replace sooner. This follows whether we’re talking about appliances like a TV or aircon, or whether it’s furniture like a bed or dining set. Only buy the best you can afford, and this will not only be something you love, but something that will last a long, long time.
- One at a time. If you haven’t found the things that you love, or if they’re not exactly within your budget, don’t worry. Everything will fall into place at some point. So just work on things one at a time and save up for the rest. Never mind if you have to live out of a box for some time, it will be worth it when you find the closet of your dreams. Hmm come to think of it, that applies to so many more things…like dating…
- Finish with a flourish. The little things go a long way. So don’t forget to get a room spray or sheet spray, some scented candles or pouches of lavender oil to tuck in your pillow, sheets with a high thread count, a beautiful mirror or wall clock, maybe a crystal candelabra, good silver or goose down pillows—in other words, things that will make you look forward to coming home and make you want to stay home. That’s the goal. And for visitors to come in and say—this place is so YOU!
And so, when you’re done, all that’s left to do is to have an intimate housewarming party with lots of champagne and good music to celebrate this latest milestone. Cheers girls!
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