April 29, 2010

Letters from readers

Dear Kylie,

I honestly think I was bitten by the DIY-bug right after Jason and I were married. We were getting ready to be shipped off to our first duty station as a couple and my mom's neighbor (who happened to be the wife of a retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major) said these words to me:

"You'll come to realize as a Marine wife that when it comes to redecorating, spray paint is your best friend."

I didn't know what she meant at the time, but I certainly do now! As most everyone knows the military is not the highest paying field out there. Our lives are usually lived paycheck to paycheck and if you want nice things you have to work to get them. Whether that means saving up the money or hunting down that phenomenal bargain. I choose the latter.

I find that when it comes to redecorating, sometimes the magazines have it wrong. You don't have to paint walls. White can be the perfect starting point. I started by using the most basic colors in our house. Namely, black and white. White walls and fabrics with black wood/frames/metals. Once I started to get most of our furniture nailed down, then I set to work on the other colors.

I find my inspiration from places like IKEA, Ballard Designs, and mostly (as you may be able to tell from the blog) Pottery Barn. Are they the most original of sources? No. But do I love them? YES. And I want to be surrounded by a style that I love. That's how I know I won't get sick of it. I try not to follow major trends (although I'm guilty of following a few--galvanized tin is my weakness right now).

So that would be my first and foremost piece of advice: find a style you love. Other blogs are a great resource for this, as well as decorating magazines. Spend an hour at your local bookstore in their magazine section and you'll probably find yourself drawn to certain styles right away. Have a notepad handy and start writing down what catches your eye. Is it the colors? Is it the furniture? Is it the lack of knickknacks or the abundance of knickknacks?

Once you find something you like, you can either cut out the pictures (after buying the magazine of course) or find their digital counterparts online. If you see something you want, circle it and start trying to find it, or its doppelganger. You'd be surprised how many great pieces your local Goodwill has for mere pennies on the dollar! And it's (usually) very good quality furniture.

Never be dissuaded by the color of a piece. Wood stains, paint strippers, and paint are all extremely easy to use. You want to look for solidarity in a piece (is it going to break if you set a vase on it?) and the shape of the piece (is it a close shape to your inspiration piece?). Traci @ Beneath My Heart did a great post on a bargain she found for her master bedroom makeover that shows what I mean.

My most honest piece of advice would be this: don't kid yourself on what you're capable of. For our office makeover, I reupholstered a cane-back chair that I thought would be the death of me. It was an experience, but I'll never do it again. I'll buy the fabric I want and make room in my budget for a pro-upholsterer.

Sooooo...after aaallllll that, the best thing I can tell you is this: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Don't be afraid to find something you love and copy it. Just make sure you add a little of yourself and your style in there as well. That's what makes it you. That's what makes your house a home.

I really hoped this has helped you and please don't be afraid to write back and ask more questions. That is, if you're not terrified of the novel I just wrote you! :)

Take care and thank you for your sweet, sweet comments. You've made my week!

Love in bloggerdom,


  1. Thank you for the shout out and the link! I love how you are taking time to answer reader' s questions on your blog. Kudos!

  2. Thanks for making my job easier, Traci! It's one thing to tell someone, but oh-so-much easier when you can show them.


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