Today I invited a fellow business woman and entrepreneur to write a guest blog post. Let me introduce you to Liz Suri, an interior designer who has worked with an array of different budgets and clients and is always invested in creating loved and cherished spaces for families she works with. You can find Liz designing weekdays at Design Within Reach in Paramus and she also works privately with clients on an hourly basis in her spare time. Liz Suri lives in Bergen County with her young family of 5.
Organizing your home is either a phrase that elicits excitement and gets you humming or provokes a loathing feeling that churns your gut. There is no magic button that will organize your home beautiful but the great news is that solutions have never been easier to find. As an interior designer, one may think I have a beautifully organized home dressed to the nines at all times, a land where no dust falls and all of the glasses sparkle. Nay, my friend… it is quite the latter and those who know me know this is true. My advice below is some that even I should take from myself! We all need help in this department. My intention is to help you edit your home from a professional standpoint and give you advice that I would use prior to an event or a client’s photo shoot. A very important point to remember, this is a project, so dedicate some time, have a clear focus of where you want to go with your end results and remember to have fun!
There has never been better inspiration available to us. Social media puts images of gorgeous spaces right at our fingertips, swiping by us at lighting speed. Whether you are a mobile user or not, the rise of instagram, Pinterest and social media has made it easier to see into people’s lives to see what works for them. USE THIS TO YOUR OWN BENEFIT! If you have not thought a bit about how you want to live in the space you have (I don’t care if you own your home, RV, hotel room, or renting space) you MUST do this first.
Remember that with any efforts you make to improve your space, if they do not improve the quality of your life, you will not be satisfied. Take a moment to reflect. Jot some notes down, dig into areas where there are pain-points in your daily routine. If you’re anything like me you have a laundry list full of them and now you have your framework of where to begin. As you look through imagery, be solution oriented and focus on what you hope to create in your life. This happens for many of us unintentionally, but I invite you to be intentional as you browse and remember to look at it with a filter of how you want to live.
Follow people whose style you envy. You love Zoe Deshanel’s style? Follow her on Instagram. You love all things Tory Birch? Pop her name in your Instagram or Pinterest search bar and see what comes up. Get creative with your search bar fields and stick to style you like. You may not think anything will pop up if you plug in two unrelated items (i.e. your favorite shoe designer and the room you’re trying to freshen up) but pair them up in your google search bar and see what comes up. You may need to backtrack real quick, but chances are you may find something amazing through simple keyword association searches. I implore you to go down the rabbit hole and save any images you like through this process in a folder on your computer labeled “(room name) Inspiration”. This is not the time to think about budget or reality. In the land of inspiration, the sky is the limit! You go girl, look at you getting your creativity on.
Now that you have all of your images saved, it’s time to organize those thoughts and put them into use. I like to organize my notes digitally either on PowerPoint or Google slides. This way any ideas I come up with are shareable, not just in my brain. This will help when you need to pitch your ideas to your spouse/partner/roommates. Take all of those pretty idea images and place them on pages/slides. I usually label my slides as rooms or for specific areas that you are trying to tackle (i.e. “mudroom” or “linen closet” or “garage”). Once your images are all visible and sorted, it’s time to apply the reality filter. If you have images of a freestanding tub on your master bath that only has room for a stand up shower, you should crop out the tub or move it to a page titled “future remodel”. Images are powerful and can tell a story, so take a close look at the detail of the image. What made you select it, do you love the paint? Do you like the feeling of the room? Do you only love the vase that is sitting on the bookshelf? Crop out anything that is not relevant to your taste level. You should have a document in formation that will start to inform your project both from a scope perspective and aesthetic.
This is the point when most folks abandon their project and/or make costly mistakes – the cusp between an organized thought and implementation. The most important steps that can help you succeed or fail in your efforts. Use a tape measure. There are no excuses here folks! Ikea hands out paper ones for free. Metric or Imperial – you can always convert. No tape measure, cave woman? Use a string and take the string to someone who does have one. My elaborate point here is that you need to know how big things are before you even start looking for things to buy.
For example, if you are re-organizing your bookshelf, you need to know if your shelves are fixed or adjustable and your depth, width and height between shelves. Paired with your inspiration that you have just organized, you are unstoppable at Home Goods!
If you are working on a larger scale project and you need help, get it! Hire an hourly Interior Designer to help you get a floor plan or go into a store you love and want to buy furniture from and see if they have Interior Design services. There is a solution for everyone these days, no matter how large or small your budget is. Your dimensions are your best friend while shopping and finding new items to incorporate into your home. If your existing items don’t fit into your new design plan, get them out – donate, sell, repurpose. There are plenty of responsible ways to get rid of unwanted home items, especially if they are in decent condition. The point is, if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.
If you have done your homework this will be the fun/easy part. You have a clear road map to what will work for your project from your inspiration page and your dimensions. This is shopping with intention. EVERYTHING you even consider purchasing must pass these two filters. Be targeted in your shopping efforts and shop like a professional before you pull out any cash or card.
As you plan on purchasing an item, put an image of it on your presentation page and make sure you check it against your dimensions. When designing a room, I will mock up furniture images entirely on presentations prior to making any purchasing decisions. This way I can look at different combinations before committing to any one item.
If you do not have a large budget, fine, you can tackle the job piece by piece. Alternatively, you do not have to buy all new items either. You can be resourceful when it comes to your design implementation. You could paint items you already own to pull in new colors to match your design inspiration, you can reupholster (don’t expect it to save you any money unless you or a family member is skilled at this trade already), you can tap into your local ‘Buy Nothing’ Facebook page or even shop thrift stores and garage sales. I always try to stay resourceful and layer in old with new to keep things looking collected as opposed to all brand new. There is a great depth that a layer of 50-year-old patina can bring to a room. Always trust that our spaces and homes tell stories about ourselves. A few cherished items integrated into a design keep sentimentality at a glance, but don’t get caught down a slippery slope here, I did say a few. Not every item needs to be a show stopper or a budget eater, but you should love the items you have in your home. So be shrewd when it comes to editing your existing possessions. You can always pack unused sentimental items away or place them is less prominent spaces in your home if you just can’t stomach the idea of letting your wedding crystal go to the highest bidder on ebay.
Don’t forget to ask for help when you’re doubting your design decisions. Asking a friend whose design style you trust or imploring the help of a design professional will go a long way if or when you hit roadblocks. Just remember that when you ask for an opinion, you are soliciting just that. You ultimately get to decide what goes in your home since you’re the one that will have to live with it.
Making any home improvement is an intentional action and a constant work in progress. Just as you would never get in a car before knowing where you are going, you should be just as strategic with your selections for your home. Creating a home and space with intent will ultimately result in a happier end-result. Trust your own sense of style and just remember with every step of the process that the decisions you make should be improving the way you live.