Oh, I hope you can do a blog post about this. I searched high and low on your blog, and I can’t find anything for a no-fail decorating plan.
But, please let me explain.
Earlier today, I was talking to a friend who ordered a couple of pieces of furniture last January, and it still hasn’t arrived.
She was expecting it in early June, but here it is three months after that date.
But, here’s my problem. I just found out that my daughter is getting married, and she wants to have her wedding on December 26th.
Well, not everything here, but the evening festivities after the wedding and luncheon following.
She absolutely adores the Christmas season, as do we all, and figures everyone will be around anyway. Plus, both she and her fiance have that week off from work. It’s not going to be a large wedding, in any case: just our families and a few very close friends.
But, Laurel. I guess I’ve already given away the problem.
It’s the house. The furniture. The decor. The lighting. It really needs some attention!
But, there’s more.
We’re Catholic, although not terribly religious. However, the groom, who’s a doll, is Jewish and also not super religious. However, our daughter Catharine has suggested that we go easy on the Christmas decorations. And, frankly, there won’t be room for a tree, anyway.
The point is, we can’t hide the meager, dated furnishings behind a lot of glitzy Christmas decor.
So, I’m thinking lots of greens on the mantel with faux candles. And, also some real candles. That will help with the lighting. Ugh, it’s always been bad.
Okay, so what I’m thinking is this. Is there some sort of lovely, fairly generic, but super-stylish, no-fail decorating plan one can implement?
Oh, and we can’t spend more than $10,000. That will include the living room, dining room, and maybe some help for one of the bedrooms.
Our home is a center hall late Federal period. It has an addition; however, the original home was built in 1820.
Laurel, I hope you’ll understand.
We bought this place about 15 years ago. Our three daughters were 8, 13, and 15. Good God, the baby, just graduated college last June. I haven’t had a chance to breathe, it seems.
What I’m trying to say is this: We haven’t done a damn thing to this place. Most of the furniture came from neighborhood tag/moving sales.
Here you can see what I’m talking about.
The walls were this color when we moved in. We only repainted about 8 years ago; the same color. I can live with it, but I don’t have to.
This is actually the family room. But, no one was watching TV in here, and there was a horrid sectional we got rid of. I thought we’d set up tables for our party in here.
The entry. Laurel, I’m seriously sick of this paper. And, there’s so much of it. Can you paint over the wallpaper?
I see… so you want a lovely, fairly generic, super stylish, no-fail decorating plan that costs no more than $10,000.00? Plus, you’re planning on hosting an evening party. And you need it all done in less than four months?
Anything else? ;]
Please know that Jolly is a fictitious character.
The house is fabricated, too. Well, not exactly. It IS a real house, somewhere in the middle of the United States.
Before I go any further…
NO, you cannot paint over wallpaper. Well, you shouldn’t paint over it. I guarantee that you’ll never take it all down, and the people you sell your home to will hate you forever.
Okay, it’s time to answer Jolly’s primary question.
Is there such a thing as a no-fail decorating plan?
Or, maybe I should say a decorating formula that works every time? And, especially a no-fail decorating plan that one can put together in a hurry.
Truth be told, I’m more concerned about the time-crunch than anything else. I wish this wedding were going to be in December 2022, not in less than four months.
However, did you notice how I made the son-in-law connected to a builder? He can pull some strings.
But still. We are not going to go hog wild with any renovations. We don’t have to. This is already a gorgeous home! Obviously, it went through a major renovation. As you can see, the home is pretty devoid of mouldings.
Is that how the home was originally? Well, I don’t know for sure. But, since this is the oldest home in the neighborhood, and this is not in the town center. This was undoubtedly a farmhouse, not a formal Federal city house which would’ve been more formal.
Actually, this is on the cusp between the Federal and Greek Revival. They are very similar, in any case.
So, the first thing to address is the overriding issue is one of time.
Jolly wants a fast, no-fail decorating plan. And, one that doesn’t cost more than $10,000.00.
Plus, she needs to have it all finished, let’s say, in 15 weeks, or preferably sooner.
In other words, Jolly doesn’t have any time to lose.
Wait, Laurel! Are you saying that there IS such a thing as a no-fail decorating plan? And, if so, WHY on earth have you been hiding it from us all of this time?
Guys, please, calm the freak down. I’m not hiding anything. It’s been out in the open this entire time. Well, no, I haven’t said:
PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION: THIS IS A NO-FAIL DECORATING PLAN. JUST DO THIS, AND THIS ALONE, AND YOU’LL BE FINE.
However, this time, I am saying just that. But, please know, it’s *my* no-fail plan. It’s my opinion that this plan always looks good. Some of you might hate it. And, besides, what fun would it be to have a blog that always has just one thing? You wouldn’t read it. You’d already know exactly what I’m going to say and what I’m going to show you.
Besides, I like a lot of different things.
So, Laurel, can we get on with it already? We have shopping to do. The sales are ahhhhmazing this weekend, and we don’t want to miss out.
Okay, but before I give you my no-fail decorating plan, there’s one five-word phrase you need to hear or see before you place an order. Are you ready?
IN STOCK, READY TO SHIP.
Do not, and I repeat, do not be seduced by “in stock by such and such a date.” And, that holds even if that date is in a week or two.
The reason for this is, like Jolly’s friend, that date might not hold. Unfortunately, this has become more the rule than the exception. And, what was expected to be in stock by September 15th could easily get pushed back to October 15th and then November 15th or March 15th. Anything can and does happen.
Oh, and what if the missing pieces are the end tables for your table lamps.
It’s a bloody drag when you have to use orange crates for end tables at your daughter’s wedding.
However, in addition, to the timeframe, the 10k budget is also a problem.
Many of you know this axiom.
Well, darling Jolly wants all three, plus stylish.
Okay, we already know that Jolly absolutely has to have fast. And, based on her budget, it has to be cheap.
Does that mean it won’t be good?
Well, it’s not like she needs all of this by September 26th. However, she does need to be mindful.
Okay, so here’s the no-fail decorating plan. Please note that the home here is a very loose guide. And, if some of you use this plan, you will have to adapt it for your unique situation.
Above and below is Victoria Hagan’s home in the Long Island Hamptons from around 1995. This room, like Barbara Barry around the same time, influenced me hugely.
The floors above are light, and yes, I love that. If you’re doing a no-fail beach house, then light is a great choice.
They are hardwood, and except for the above, I usually recommend a deep, rich, warm brown for an antique home. Minwax’s English Chestnut is perfect. Jolly’s floors look a shade lighter. However, I’m fine if she doesn’t change them.
If the floors are to be refinished, I would do them first. Wait at least one week to paint. Then cover the floors with thick cardboard. They will still be drying under the cardboard. Here’s a good post about floor finishes.
Please see this post about the white trim and wall color that works every time.
What if we want to do a pale gray paint color, Laurel?
Haha. That’s a different post. The point of this post about a no-fail decorating plan is I’m going to give you as few choices as possible. You don’t have to do them. This is my blue jeans and a white t-shirt room.
Of course, Jolly, could easily keep her red walls, and her gorgeous Persian rugs. My no-fail decorating scheme calls for something else. But, you’ll see how it would still work, in a bit.
Well, what about adding mouldings?
Well, yes, if you can line someone up to do that by the end of the month and they don’t dilly-dally. But, first, I would have all of the wallpaper removed. It all looks a bit ditzy to me. I think that the only room that really needs mouldings is the entry. I would do panel moulding (wainscoting) and take it up the stairs. And, then do some panel moulding on the walls.
We need to keep going.
Seagrass rug(s). Yes, you can do jute or even sisal, now. But, I very much recommend Seagrass as they are not expensive and you can always find one in stock.
By the way, if you don’t already have my 333 Hard to Find Decorating Rules & Tips Guide, You Need to Know. It’s an invaluable guide that tells you what sizes to get of just about everything, where to put it, high, how low, etc.
FURNITURE FOR A NO-FAIL DECORATING PLAN
Okay, you STILL do need to make a little floorplan. This is a crucial step. Please do not skip it. You can see how to do that here in the 12-Step Decorating Plan.
Let’s begin with upholstery. It depends on what you have. This post goes over some great ways to save money. But, let’s say you have furniture that you like, but it’s just seen better days.
I very much recommend white or off-white *CUSTOM slipcovers. (that links to a fairly recent post that gives the ultimate guide for frugal decorating.) For the slipcovers, 12 oz cotton duck is excellent. It needs to be preshrunk before it is fabricated into slipcovers.
*The only exception to slipcovers is if your furniture is well-known and there are ready-made slipcovers in existence.
Otherwise, a local fabricator is probably best.
However, if that’s not an option, there are some sources on Etsy that can make a slipcover without having the physical piece. You take photos and measurements. They will send you all the deets to accomplish that.
Another possibility is to paint your upholstered furniture.
Yes, PAINT the fabric.
What if you need new upholstered furniture?
Well, if you need cheap and fast, then I would first look on Facebook Marketplace.
In fact, you can look there for all of the furniture, first.
In addition, I am very much recommending both Etsy and Chairish as terrific sources for vintage and new furniture.
You need enough seating for six to eight people in your living room. So, usually, that means a sofa and four club and/or occasional chairs. Please look at this post for some great room layout ideas.
As soon as you can, you need to figure out window treatments.
The Ultimate window treatment guide is here. (it’s free, BTW)
You don’t have to change them, but I would do white Roman Shades if you like. In this case, for the windows with the beautiful mouldings, I don’t recommend drapes because I think it’s a shame to cover that up.
But, for the rest of you, I love plain white curtains. These days there are many great sources for ready-made curtains, as well as custom. However, for custom, you need to order this week.
Please see the post about Roman Shades.
You will need a coffee table and end tables.
Here are some great ideas for end tables.
Here are some more
Well, you cannot go wrong with a ming or opium table in a deep rich brown or black. There are more on the vintage Hot Sales page.
But, Laurel. I can’t have all of this cast-off stuff. I mean, these are very wealthy people. Oh, I feel so ashamed.
Jolly, I understand, but it is going to look fantastic and not at all cast-off. Besides, have you seen her home? I mean, just because people have money doesn’t mean they have taste. baaaalieve me on that one.
Gosh, your home is already gorgeous! And besides, your new sister-in-law is likely to be far more concerned with whatever is bothering her.
She might have crippling anxiety, hemorrhoids, indigestion. You have no idea. Maybe she’s gained 15 pounds, and none of her clothes fit. You really don’t know what goes on with other people.
If anything, she’s going to be impressed with how clever you are. And, if she’s not, then so be it.
Alright, what’s left?
Oh yeah, all of the stuff that’s going to make your room sensational.
Also, please look at this post all about Chinoiserie Decor.
You want two smashing table lamps for your end tables. Please check out these fantastic lamps. And, then at least two more lamps, sconces or a floor lamp or two. This is an addition to any recessed lighting you have. Please make sure they are on a dimmer switch if you have the latter and keep them on very low.
For your coffee table, use coffee table books (yes, I know some of you hate that idea), a tray, a small beautiful box, and one smashing blue and white Chinoiserie blue and white ginger or temple jar. (see above) Fill a beautiful white porcelain bowl with fresh clementines. (+ more coffee table styling)
Now, I want you to go and get some fantastic throw pillows.
The beauty of doing all of the white is that you can easily change the colors out with the throw pillows and accessories if you like.
There is a recent post with many lovely throw pillow combinations, which you can see here, plus more info about inserts, sizes, etc.
By the way, if you’re ever looking for a particular topic, please use the search box in the blog sidebar. You will need a desktop computer or a tablet for that feature.
But, also review how to get the Steve Cordony look. His style embodies this aesthetic perfectly.
Oh, that reminds me. Furlow Gatewood just had his 100th birthday party!
Well, Jolly, I hope you’re feeling better. Is that a little smile I’m seeing? Good.
None of this is a matter of life and death. Your home would be gorgeous if you did nothing at all.
I would find a stylish pro to do the holiday decor and flowers if you can swing it. Of course, you will have a caterer. We had one once who did everything. So talented, she was.
Gosh. I’m beginning to believe my own fantasy. There isn’t really a Jolly or a wedding.
Or, is there?
I bet somewhere, there is. In any case, some people don’t want to have to think a lot about decorating. They just want to be told what to do. I feel that way about some things. If you don’t, that’s okay, too.
Okay, please enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, and if you like,
The above room is not what this post is about. I found it on Chairish. I think this is fantastic too. However, it would be impossible to pull off for 10k.
This is a huge shopping weekend if you missed that. Also, there are many classic items in the HOT SALES widgets, plus the best sales this weekend.