old country house blog

DESIGN DILEMMA – FINDING YOUR ANCHOR

THE ANCHOR
It can be a chicken or the egg thing…
WHICH comes first?
THE ANCHOR OR THE ROOM???
While I do not subscribe to a formal set of “DESIGN RULES”,
in fact I think sometimes rules completely stifle creativity…
I do think it HELPS…especially when you are first starting to pull a room together…
to find your ANCHOR – or That thing, whether it be the room color, a painting, a piece of furniture, a vase or a rug, to name a few, …that unifies the room and gives it a point of view…
and helps it to make sense.

I will be completely honest with you and tell you that more often than not, in THIS house…my ANCHOR  has come along midway through my decorating process.
Now that is not to say that if we were to move, and start over, I would take years to find my ANCHOR again, but that the process for me HERE has been an evolution. I have always had a good eye for color…but it has taken me time and practice to learn some key characteristics of
CONSISTENT GOOD DESIGN…
to me these are THE TOP 5
1. COLOR CONTROL
2. BALANCE
3. A GOOD ANCHOR
4. INVESTMENT
AND the hardest one for me…
5. PATIENCE
Lets talk a bit about each one of these components.

1. COLOR CONTROL
You know I LOVE color. But it took me a long time to understand that you get the most bang for your buck when you show restraint with color. That probably sounds crazy coming from someone who painted the inside of a cabinet pink…

but if you at this photo you will see that I ONLY use that color inside the cabinet, the ottoman and on a few pillows.
which brings me to my next thing
2.BALANCE
OVER TIME, I learned to balance something sweet, and potentially too feminine, with something
more earthy and masculine…like the Sisal rug in this photo. I used to have a rather ornate pale blue
oriental rug…but it was too much…
In addition, the coffee table in this room is more rugged…which keeps the room from going too sweet and I covered the sofa in a very frumpy kids friendly Belgian Linen to balance out the pink walls in the adjoining room.

3. A GOOD ANCHOR

The Church Pew was the first piece fo furniture we bought for this house…$50 dollars well spent…It ANCHORS our entryway..the whole hall would change dramatially if we removed it….

The artwork in the dining room changes as paintings come and go..but they usually serve to anchor the very busy room.


To me, the upstairs hallway is anchored by the photos…they give the space dimension and heart…but someone else might see it differently…

4. INVESTMENT
There are all kinds of budgets…and personally, some of my most creative solutions have been borne of needing to make the most out of nothing…BUT there are a few things in my opinion as a home owner, Mom of 3 kids, a person who has lived in NYC dinky Apartments, and new condos and big old country houses…there are a few pieces that I think you should INVEST in and get the best you can afford. Now that number is different depending on your budget…but what I mean to say is there are a million places to save money…and by all means use coupons and hit end of year sales and
floor models etc, but GO for The BEST you can afford with
THESE 5 ITEMS:
at least one of your SOFAs
APPLIANCES
KIDS DRESSERS
DINING ROOM CHAIRS
MATTRESSES

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In my experience, when I have cut corners and gone for cheap with these items, in the end…I have probably spent more, replacing, repairing and refurbishing… than if I had just been patient and invested…a little at a time, in better quality items.
As a general rule I have no regrets..but if I did it would be in not investing…one kid at a time in good quality, dressers with smooth gliding drawers that don’t splinter or stick or fall out and smash little toes. I would not be replacing my Refrigerator if we had not bought the cheapest one at the time…just to save a few bucks…and while I adore my dining room chairs now…the pretty old ones, I got for a deal are now in the shed after they have broken from Normal use.

All of this being said…I don’t beat myself up and neither should you. You live and learn. It is not about doing it perfect…but letting your home grow and evolve just as you and your family does…
finally…

5. PATIENCE
There are times in my life when I have taken a pair of pants to the dry cleaner to have a button sewn on…and times when I have made a 3 piece Matched Plaid Suit. Just because you CAN do it all, does not mean your life always allows for it. Respect where you are. When our kids were babies… a few minutes ago… our home was very, very simple. It was cute and colorful but Our priorities were different…sofas needed to be able to be bounced on and occasionally spilled and peed on…carpets needed to be very cushioned and soft and meticulously clean and crawling baby friendly…
I did not have many decorating books out…but lots of great kid books and legos and toys and  stuff…and that time FLEW by…that time was precious.
We had lots of places to hang art work, to color and do crafts, there were step stools everywhere, buckets and baskets and bins to keep it all put away…

…this was playroom….the room that is the Dining room now…

The down filled camel back gingham sofa on the right …probably one of our nicest sofas…we got
second hand for about $300…it is now the brown velvet sofa in the kids living room. It made no sense to have a coffee table, they just stood on it, so we removed it and kept the play area nice and roomy. This room is off the kitchen, which enabled me to supervise play and more often than not, all meals were eaten at the booth….

So long story short…THE ANCHOR is a piece which unifies a room, gives it focus, serves as a springboard for decorating.
Our very FIRST ANCHOR
was a New square shaped Coffee Table painted coffee painted aqua that my Mom got us for our very first home, a duplex where we lived when we got married and where we brought home our first baby. Our home was nothing fancy and most of our pieces of furniture were our families cast offs. This new coffee table, which my Mom Coined “THE ANCHOR!”  gave our living room the following:

a color to work from,
* A point of view – it was a Contemporary piece with a nod and a wink at Traditional design
 *A focal point of the room.
* Color – I made pillows and curtains pulling the Aqua in with fabric that matched or coordinated
and we chose a rug which incorporated that color as well.
 That one piece unified our first home as we let the color drift into other rooms and spin off into a beach themed guest room and my baby son’s first Nursery.

One Aqua coffee table.
One Cabinet painted pink on the inside
A Church Pew
A Huge Mirror
A Painting of a Chicken
Start simple, look around, you may have your anchor right under your nose…or feet!
Or in your shed!!!

and remember…HAVE FUN!!!

TOMORROW – MY OLD COUNTRY HOUSE GOES CHRISTMAS- FINALLY!!!

 

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13 thoughts on “DESIGN DILEMMA – FINDING YOUR ANCHOR

  1. So true about the dressers…I found my son’s at a consignment store, and painted it a pretty gray. But it has been a trial with the drawers that stick and not enough room for his clothes..should have invested! Thanks for the tips!

  2. Great read! I realized when you said to invest in good dresser for the kids that both my kids have more expensive dressers now. The littlest had a Babies R Us number that did not hold up and now I have moved my old Ethan Allen dresser in there which is working out great! I knew one of the rules and didn’t even know it!

    1. The baby dressers are great…for baby clothes, you know those teensie tshirts and onesies, but once the baby is a toddler and getting themselves dressed, pulling out drawers…climbing in them, you need the heavy duty dresser. my DREAM dresser would be a Maine Cottage Dresser for each bedroom…those are SO crazy sturdy and oh yeah crazy expensive…I wish I lived near an outlet or something…I don’t they people ever put those on Craogs list!

  3. I have recently just started to “decorate” my house by adding some color and trying to slowly incorporate some inexpensive farmhouse, shabby chic, vintage, granny items in. For someone like me this is a huge challenge so I’m so glad I came across your blog. Thank you.

    Btw, did you make that curved bench in the kids’ playroom? It’s beautiful.

    1. yes, I did though not willingly. I ordered the booth from PopsunfinishedFurniture.com and it came unassembled so I remember spending a whole day building it…but I did it! and it lasted us through 8 years and many days of coloring and crafts and many meals!

  4. I have recently just started to “decorate” my house by adding some color and trying to slowly incorporate some inexpensive farmhouse, shabby chic, vintage, granny items in. For someone like me this is a huge challenge so I’m so glad I came across your blog. Thank you.

    Btw, did you make that curved bench in the kids’ playroom? It’s beautiful.

  5. now this was so informative and helpful to me.
    i love you sharing the tidbits from looking to feminine. my house
    is feminine and i like it that way but we painted our dining chairs this crazy yellow and then repainted them a very light blue almost white recently and it changed the whole vibe of the room. softened it and we love it so much better

    i have NO design and eye so it is totally trial and error. keep it comin girl
    xo

  6. This is wonderful advice. I love your style and try to create something very similar in my home but it is so difficult. I love what you say about the anchor pieces. I just got my first church pew and found your blog on pinterest looking for ideas and linked it up. Love your blog!

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