This week, we are here with our first deep dive episode, and we’re diving into designing your DREAM HOME.
In this episode, we’ll cover how to choose a color scheme, create mood boards, and grow into an evolving aesthetic as you update your home.
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7 Tips to Design Your Dream Home:
- Let the home speak to you
- Research the era of your home.
- Find iconic homes (even buildings/restaurants) from this era.
- Become an expert in this type of home: what makes it special, what materials are often used, craftsmanship, and original features that stand out from that time.
2. Define the feeling you want your home to embody
- What spaces have you been in that had the feeling that you want?
- What spaces have you been in that fell short for you?
- What is it that you want to feel comfort from?
3. Define the functions of how you use your home and how it can support your lifestyle goals
- Imagine your home in all four seasons, as your children grow, and other events that will happen in your life. Go room by room.
- Mini-journal prompt: Thinking of your last home, were there any spaces that you had set up that you didn’t use? And what are your most used spaces?
4. Create a pinboard
- Pin everything that attracts you.
- Go back through and delete the oddball pins until you see cohesion in your scroll through.
5. Describe the style for your home in three words
- Pick three words that describe the style you are going for.
6. Choose a color scheme
- Collect paint, tile, and fabric swatches.
- Order wallpaper samples and small decor items that support your style.
7. As you renovate, refer back to your mood board and color scheme
- This keeps you on track, cohesive, and working toward a chosen goal and resists new trends.
- You need at least three collections that are ongoing.
- Collect personal decor.
- Decorating with memories, photos, relics from travels, etc.
- Leave room for magic – always have something weird and magical in every room.
Miss an Episode? Get Caught Up!
- Episode #167: It’s Complicated – Comfort Rewatch Episode
- Episode #166: 2023 Decor Trends
- Episode #165: New Year’s Goals and Plans
Episode 168 Transcript:
Emma: You’re listening to The Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy comfort listen. This week we are here with our first deep dive episode and we’re diving into designing your dream home. In this episode, we’ll cover how to choose a color scheme, create mood boards, and grow into an ever-evolving aesthetic as you update your home.
Elsie: I am so excited to do this episode. So one of the reasons why we started this deep dive series is because as we like, we’re on episode 168 now. As we have built a bigger library, it’s become kind of challenging to like refer back. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I don’t know when or where. So in this episode, we’re gonna kind of combine everything, like all of our advice about designing a dream home into one mega episode that you can re-listen to it next time you are moving. I act like that’s like a normal thing that everyone’s like, oh, just, you know, the next time you get a new pair of shoes or you move.
Emma: Some people move a lot. Some people move a lot more than us. I mean, it really depends on your life.
Elsie: That’s true. When I was in my twenties, I moved like every six months to a new apartment. I definitely have realized that I’m a serial mover. I don’t wanna be, but it is true. Okay, so anyway, we are gonna go through seven steps to design your dream home. And I honestly, recommend doing all seven. If you are, let’s say that you’re a person who’s moving, a person who’s buying your first home, and this is also for someone who, you have a home that you like, but you don’t love it like you feel like it’s just not personalized in the way that you dream of it being. Anyone in any of those situations can use this. I think it works for, you know, your first apartment and it can also work for your quote unquote, forever home. Even though we don’t believe in Forever Homes.
Emma: No, we don’t. But also, I don’t know if we have anyone who listens, who’s very young. You know, they’re like, I haven’t bought my first home yet, or moved into my first home, that’s gonna be long term. Like I don’t really know if anyone listening is that young, but I will say, I feel like a lot of these tips to you could apply to different areas of art, like let’s say fashion. And I just think it’s like a fun hobby to get like excited about different things and even like homes that you’re never gonna live in, but you study it and it’s just fun. I feel that way about fashion and other things too, where it’s like, there are certain things that I’m just never gonna wear or buy, but I still like to know about what designers are coming out with and how the construction is, you know, just like different things. It’s fun to learn.
Elsie: Now that you mention it, I see that completely, that is interesting. Yeah, I think this will be fun. You could also use this if you are designing one room. You can do this whole process for just one room too. But my thing is I like to do it when I’m moving if I can before I buy anything. Because when you move, it seems like that’s the highest concentration of necessary purchases quickly, and it’s easy to make mistakes. So especially the part about the color scheme, it’s just so handy and so helpful. I was recently at a family dinner over the holidays and someone who I hadn’t seen in 10 years was there, and they were reminding me that I had a lime green painted kitchen in one of my first apartments, which is so funny. And it had so many colors, which I love it. I love it, I stand by it. But I think that is a problem when you just love everything and you, but you buy something that’s very specific and then you love something else and you try to decorate a different way, and then you feel like you have to replace everything all the time. I think that’s the problem. So when I started doing the color scheme, I specifically remember it was very life-changing. Have you ever done a color scheme?
Emma: Yeah, kind of. I mean, yeah, I would say yes. But I don’t think I have quite as bad of like FOMO as you in life generally. Because I do feel like that’s a piece of it with design. Because I do have some of course, so like I think everyone has it, somewhere, you know, well we’ll talk about this more, but like you start to put things on your pin board that is really not like they’re kind of wild cards, but you love them. And then, I don’t know, I think sometimes it can be really hard to kind of decipher or wade through like, what should be in my home versus what can I just admire? And I maybe don’t need to paint my house that color or buy that certain couch because it’s just not gonna make sense. But I can still admire it, you know?
Elsie: Right. Yeah. No, I think that’s very true. I think that you’re more decisive and you’re more just like generally okay with like, you kind of have more of a like, I don’t care. It’s all a good kind of attitude. And I don’t have that at all. All right, so let’s jump into the tips. I’ve tried to put these in order. , the first tip is to let the home speak to you. And here’s what I mean by that. So every home that you’re going to move into has an era when it was built and it has natural strengths and natural weaknesses or challenges. So I think it’s really important to research the type of home that you have and find the sort of to fall in love with it. I know it’s not always maybe possible for like if you’re moving into a home that just wasn’t the home you would’ve picked at all. Like you had a different thing in mind, but this home had like a better location or a better price, or, you know. But I think it’s very important to just do whatever you can to get interested in the way your home was meant to be. Like the arrow was built in the style of architecture. You can really fall down a rabbit hole. So there are homes that are more flexible like if you’re moving into an apartment building that is sort of like, say it’s a two-bedroom apartment with one bathroom and an open kitchen and it’s pretty like vanilla. That is like a very flexible style of home and like the style of home I live in now, that’s a nineties McMansion. It’s also very flexible because it’s like, kind of like no one cares. Like you don’t have to honor the history of it. I think you can sort of figure out what style and what era they were trying to emulate when they built it, but that’s about the closest you can get. And then there are other homes like mid-century home that was built in the fifties or the sixties or historic home. And if you move into one of those, it could be sort of like you’re swimming against a lazy river if you try to decorate it in a completely different style than what it was meant to be, you might not be happy with the result and it might turn out bad.
Emma: I think that’s one thing that I think about. So I was on the, you know that Instagram account that’s like Zillow Gone Wild. I always see what’s on there. I guess the algorithm knows I like it. But they had a really beautiful home yesterday that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the last homes that he designed, it’s like the circular home. I’m sure you can do that. Anyway, it’s for sale and it was very expensive as you can imagine. So obviously I would never buy it. It’s not something in my budget, but I was just looking at it. But the thing I kept thinking as I was looking at it, other than what a breathtakingly beautiful home, I would love to stay there for an Airbnb experience, but I was like, you really wouldn’t feel comfortable changing certain aspects of it. Because if you’ve ever seen a Frank Lloyd Wright home and there are other designers who design this way, it’s pretty specific. And if you were to go in and really change certain parts of it, like the shelving, it wouldn’t make any sense. I’m not saying it would be wrong, I’m just saying it would be really weird like I don’t feel like if you buy that kind of home, you feel like you can make those. So I guess what I’m trying to say is some homes are really specific and maybe it’s good to even think about if you want that kind of thing, or if you know you want something way more blank. And again like Elsie said, you may not always have a choice cuz you may be on a deadline and a budget and there’s only so much available in the area you’re moving to. But it’s just a good thing to think about. If you do have the option.
Elsie: Yes. So here are some of my suggestions for researching your type of home. First of all, find movies that have sets that are similar to types of homes and take notes as you watch them. This is like what we do for our rewatch episodes now, and it’s so fun. My dream home would be like a father of the bride house, you know? And it’s so fun to just sit there and write down all the specific little charming things that they did in their movie set version of the home that you could incorporate in tears. Another idea is to order old books. So most styles of architecture have many, many books available and I usually get them from thrift books. So it’s very affordable. Yeah, So find out what style of architecture your home is, and then order as many books as you can on that style. And I think the really cool thing about this, especially for mid-century homes and older ones, is that you can learn about what people were doing at the time to decorate and furnish the homes. And that is gonna be really helpful for you cuz it’s something that you can emulate the things about it that you think is special. You can modernize it or update it for your taste or your colors in some way while still getting inspired by what they would’ve done in that era. It’s just more natural. For the majority of people, it’s going to add more value to the home to do something that like fits with the home’s original features.
Emma: It’ll probably be cheaper too because you will probably end up changing less or getting to save certain parts of the home that, you know, maybe you’re gonna paint it something, but you get to keep the very specific molding or whatever it is.
Elsie: Hell yeah. Yeah, and then the last thing I would suggest is to learn what the original features and craftsmanship from this time period were like the ultimate most desirable details. The type of thing that if people who love old houses find it in a house, now they like to freak out, you know, like the pocket doors and all those types of things. Okay, so the second tip is to define the feeling you want your home to embody. So this is super important and I consider this one a journaling exercise. So get out your journal, and I’ll tell you everything to think about. So the first thing to journal about is what spaces have you been in that had the feeling that you want and try to remember as many details, no matter how specific or no matter how random they seem that added to that space. And then the other thing is what spaces have you been in that sort of fell short for you and why? So if you’re doing a mid-century house, I talk about mid-century houses a lot cuz I had two of them and yeah, historic homes. That’s like my main, the main houses that I have experience with. I guess also the nineties McMansion. So I think that, with mid-century, I would journal about the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs. It has everything, it’s like the decor, the feeling, the fireplaces, even down to the details like the painted brick and the ceramics and the server, you know, the dishes that they use to serve breakfast and like just everything is sort of perfect and magical, and I can use that as a template. And there are so many other places that I’ve been in my life that have like a fifties retro theme that fell short of that feeling and that magic. So I can identify, why, how, and what are the differences. And I think that’s the kind of journaling exercise I would encourage you to do. And then also to just imagine yourself, so this is an imagination exercise. Imagine you’re getting home from a weekend trip or a night out and it’s late at night and you walk into the home, you put down your keys, you put down your bag. What is it that you want to feel comfort from? What is it about the home that would bring you that immense feeling of being at home? So maybe it’s the kitchen, maybe it’s a certain type of couch, a certain type of like comfortable seating. Maybe it’s like a puzzle out on your dining room table. There can be a hundred different things, but think about what are the things that just make it feel like home to you.
Emma: Maybe a little bit since we have our journals out and we’re journaling. If you think you’re going to be in a home for a very long period of time, and of course, as we all know, it is impossible to know the future unless you have a crystal ball. But let’s just say you’re assuming for now that you’re gonna be in this home for the next 10 years and you’re gonna watch your kid grow up or have a kid. Whatever you think is gonna happen, you’re gonna get a dog next year and you’re excited about that, whatever. Then I would also, kind of think about some of those things, like what you want the house to feel like for them, also for you with them. Because things like dogs and children and other considerations in life, you know, they come with stuff. We’re gonna talk about function in the next point. But I think there is also this feeling of home and family. However, you define that, and that can come out through decor and things you buy and colors you pick, and I would be thinking about what it is you want in that sense too.
Elsie: Yeah. I love that. So number three is to define the functions of how you use your home and how it can support your lifestyle goals. So this one I would really spend some time on and I would make a room-by-room list. And I think it’s important to imagine you’re home in all four seasons. Imagine your home if you have children, imagine your children five years older than they are now. Things like that because lifestyles can drastically change in your kids’ younger years of life, as we all know. Just really list out room by room how you see yourself living there. And I think the first step towards having a dream home and also a dream lifestyle, I guess, is just figuring out what you even want it to be.
Emma: Yeah, and I think too, like at this point, the define the functions time it’s also really important to try to be really honest about that because there are times you’re like, I’m gonna set up a painting studio in this corner, and you never paint. And it’s like, well you can if it just makes you happy to see that in the corner, cool and if you have the space for it, alright. You know? But maybe it would’ve been better to do something else if you could have been a little more honest with what you really do want to use and plan to use and will use. Kinda like setting up a huge home gym and then you never, ever use it. It’s like, well you might as well have made it a cozy movie room because it’s just at least then you’ll use it. You know? If you never ever entertain, you don’t need a big sprawling dining room.
Elsie: I think that’s a great point.
Emma: I’ll give an example. Maybe that’ll make it more clear. For years and years at one of our last houses, my home office, which I work from home all the time and have for years and years, my home office was in this kind of open space near our dining room and living room. So you could see it all the time. So it was not clean all the time, but it felt like it should be because you could see it all the time. In the meantime, for like five or six years, we had a guest bedroom that I think got used maybe twice. And towards the end of living in that house, I just sort of realized I’m gonna move my office into the guest bedroom and we’re just not gonna have a guest bedroom. Because the truth is we don’t really have guests that often, and it’s kind of annoying that I can’t have a meeting without my dogs barking constantly, or I feel the pressure to keep my office really clean even though there are days you just barely get your work done before It’s time’s up. You don’t have time to put everything away all the time. And my work can be kind of messy sometimes cuz I make things. So anyway, I just kind of realize I’m not prioritizing what I really do all the time and instead I had this idea of oh, people are gonna visit us a lot and it’s like, well that’d be nice. I love it when people visit. But the truth is that they just didn’t after a year or two that would’ve been pretty obvious and I was like, well, we don’t need this guest’s bedroom because nobody visits us and we can just put out an air mattress if they do.
Elsie: Yeah, no, that’s interesting. Okay, let’s add a little bit of a mini journaling prompt here. Thinking of your last home, your last two homes, were there any spaces that you had set up that you didn’t use I do think that’s useful information for the future. And what are your most used spaces because yeah, obviously for us, forever, having a home office is my number one priority. I’ve always had a home office and even in some of my smaller apartments, I would use the whole living room instead of, I had no living room. I only had a bedroom and an office. And that worked for me because it was much more important to me to have a big home office that was nice and felt creative than to have a TV or whatever and we just watch TV in bed for those years. Whatever. You know, people do what they have to do. Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. I do defend to the death that no matter how big your house is, you can and should use all of it regularly, and if there is a part of it that you just never use, then change the function, definitely. So yeah, defining the functions I think is one of the most important steps because especially when you move into a new home and you haven’t really thought through where you’re gonna be, one of the biggest mistakes I made in my whole life, that caused me to have to move very quickly was thinking that I didn’t need a designated office.
And it just happened to be before the pandemic hit, and I learned very quickly that was Not just not healthy, not ideal, but it was actually like on the line of not possible for me. I couldn’t do my job in the space that we were in. So I think making sure that you prioritize the things that you use heavily and then also prioritize for yourself some sort of like treats, like some lifestyle treats, things you want to do more of, things like the person you want to become.
Emma: Yeah, and I think too this is the brainstorming and dreaming and some of it’s gonna become real, but as we all know, because we’re adults, life is full of trade-offs. So you may not get every single thing, that’s just how life works, but at least it’s gonna help you understand the priorities and what you should try for. And you probably won’t get everything, no one gets everything. Elsie and I don’t get everything either. Life is a trade-off and that’s okay too. And that’s fine. You shouldn’t view that as, oh, I didn’t get my dream home. It’s just more, you know, what are the top priorities? How can I work towards that? Because that’s gonna equal the most happiness for myself and my family. Cuz now I have a useful and beautiful home to live in because I prioritize, but I didn’t get everything and that’s okay too.
Elsie: So yeah, I think you can be very creative too if you need room to function in two or three or four ways, those things are all possible as well. As a person who spent my younger years studying IKEA catalogs, I can tell you there are so many different ways. The whole IKEA catalog in the early two thousands was like, how to make a one-room apartment do all the things in your whole life. Yeah. And it’s so fascinating and really cool how much you can make out of one space. So let’s move on to tip number four. We’re getting into more design and stuff. The first step is to create a pin board, and I mean a pin board. So if you have time, if you know you’re gonna move in, Six months or a year, or three months, I think you have time. I have a pinboard that has over a thousand pins on it. That’s actually kind of excessive, but it’s been a good creative exercise for me to really, really figure out what I want. So I think pinning every single thing that attracts you is the first step. And don’t worry about if it matches or if it’s cohesive at first.
Emma: I just checked my pin board on my computer because you said you had a thousand and I was like I bet mine’s hilariously smaller and I literally have 21 photos that I worked with before we rent outed and moved into this house that I’m in now. So there you go a thousand or maybe 20, it’s all good.
Elsie: Anywhere in between those two numbers, let’s just say. Oh my gosh, that’s funny. So we’re gonna make a giant pinboard. We are going to pin everything that attracts us and doesn’t think about why. Pinning, I think it can become very intuitive where you’re just going off of the feeling that the photo gives you. So later on you can use more discretion, and I’ll teach you how to do that too. But at first, you’re just gonna collect everything. You can also do a folder if you want. I would suggest either a pin board or a folder on your desktop. If you’re a person who just only uses your phone, you could also do a folder on your phone, or you could also do a favorites folder on your Instagram. It’s just kind of like whatever you use. For me, pinning is the best because I just feel like I can see more options for everything all at once, it’s easier to find and navigate for me. So then the next step after you have your giant pin board is to, I like to let go through my big pin board and just pull it out into a folder on my desktop just like my top picks.
Emma: That’s what I have, that’s what my folder on my desktop is. It’s just the 20 photos. It’s just the like final, we’re making the house look like this kind of thing.
Elsie: Yeah. That’s what we’re trying to get to is something that’s sort of cohesive. So at that point, go through them all and delete anything that doesn’t match. Like, I like this, but this goes in a different house. Get it to the point where all of your 21 pictures or more, look like they could be from the same house, this is very important. This is the process of defining what style you’re going to commit to. Because if you are like me and you love kind of like every different style, you will have a hell of a time decorating if you haven’t committed down a little bit to a style and a color scheme. And if you do the commitment, you will actually be able to focus and create a home that is cohesive and where you don’t waste things or change your mind a lot. So that’s the next step.
Emma: And also, I feel like this is the stage where if you are designing a home with someone, so you have a forever roommate, a husband, a partner who’s gonna live with you, and they’re not Uber involved. Some people are gonna wanna design like from scratch with you, and that’s cool, but if your partner’s like, I care, but I’m not doing all the pinning like you, then at this point, as you’re starting to call it down, that’s when I would start showing things to whoever’s gonna live with you, your partner, whatever. Basically, you can kind of get their buy-off. Or if you’re about to remove some of the oddballs but they love them, then that might be kind of informative. It might be like, you know what, maybe I’ll lean a little more in that direction. Because this is a good stage to kind of be like, we’re not making the million specific decisions we’re gonna have to make throughout the house. But if you like this overall folder of 21 photos that I’ve put together, then you’re gonna like a lot of those little decisions like what hardware I’m gonna pick for this or that, you know, all the little things and you can kind of get an overarching approval or whatever you wanna call it, like, we’re on the same page at this stage.
Elsie: Yeah. I think that it’s a great time to do that as well. And every partner’s different. We get a lot of questions about this, and I think that if you have a partner who feels like they need or want to be equally involved, then you should definitely let them. I do you think it’s a lot easier if you have a partner like I have where they are like, looks great, you know? But I also think that’s something that changed over time, we built trust over time. It wasn’t like that at the beginning of our relationship, but now that we’ve done so many houses together, he kind of knows what to expect and he really just doesn’t even barely need to like look at anything.
Emma: A lot of the fights, at least in my life that has happened, it’s because somebody got their heart set on something before they really talked to the other person about it. And then when they’re like, oh, I don’t really love that color for the kitchen or whatever, and you’re like, oh, but I’ve been thinking about it now. I’ve already pinned 50 photos that have this kitchen color. And so you kind of feel like they’re, stopping this thing that was already in your heart. So I would say before you get to that phase where you’re still kind of loosely holding things, you maybe still have some like odd stuff in the overall board and you’re starting to call it down, then I would bring them in so that basically no one’s getting their heart set before someone else can veto it. It also sucks if your partner’s really excited about something and you’re like, oh, I really don’t like that, but I can tell that you’ve been thinking about it. Now. It’s like, oh no. So, just trying to avoid that where you can talk more in the beginning and if anyone really wants something or really hates a certain color or whatever, then you can hopefully discover that early on and then keep moving forward.
Elsie: Yeah, and I think that it’s just very normal in a renovating or decorating situation where one person is doing most of it and the most involved and one person is not very involved, that there are gonna be these moments where there are misunderstandings or there’s like, oh, but why would we pick that? Or, but I like that, you know, and that’s super normal. It’s like kind of nothing to worry about. I think just being prepared to show lots of examples is the most important thing. So we’ve made the pin board, and I will say after you have the board, it’s important to put it on a, like make a mood board with it. So a couple of ways to do this. The easiest one is you could just put it in a folder on your phone and take a screenshot of the folder and then you’d have an easy do nothing mood board that you can refer back to. Another way to do it is to use Canva, which works really well. We use it for work. And another thing is Photoshop, I feel like Photoshop is becoming kind of like if you already knew how to use it, you know, but people aren’t learning it for the first time as much. Is that true? Like people are learning other things?
Emma: I don’t know. I already know how to use it, so I tend to gravitate towards it, but if you’ve never used anything, Canva is very easy to use.
Elsie: Canvas is easier than Photoshop. But whichever one, honestly. And there are probably also a million other apps and I don’t think we have an app that can make collages in that way, but I know there are many. So anyway, make some type of a mood board and this is going to help you so much. So the next step is to describe the style of your home in three words. And I know this is sort of a cheesy exercise, but I think that it can help so much. So a lot of people do words like transitional bohemian, eclectic like words like that. But I think also you can describe more personal things, the three words that I wrote down are cozy, creative, and weird. So I do want it to be cozy. I want it to be basically a Nancy Meyers house, point blank that’s what I want. And then creative, I want to have a large designation of Homemade and craft. I wanna have a whole pantry for my bakery stuff. I wanna have a whole room for art with my kids. Like things like that. It’s a very high priority for me, the creative living activities that we can do. And then weird is pretty much my vintage collections that I just think that a home is not complete until you have like brass insects statues and that just brings joy and texture and it’s sort of, funny, I don’t know. It’s the sort of the vintage oil paintings and stuff that is like the soul of the home for me.
Emma: Yeah, and I love the three words thing, but I am gonna offer up an alternative just because sometimes I feel like that can become really abstract and maybe you’re wanting something a little more like, you know, I think of this as your elevator pitch for your home. So, you’ve met someone, you have 15 seconds to tell them how you’re designing your new home. This is what you would say, you know? And I think the three words are the perfect amount. But then also I think of it like whenever you’re pitching a book, you do this thing called comparative titles. So you say, my book is blank and blank. So you pick two different things and you match them together. So for a home you could, it could be something like, my Home is the downtown proper hotel meets its complicated kitchen. So you just say, I’m smashing these two things together. And those are the two worlds that I wanna work in.
Elsie: Oh my gosh, I love that. Okay, I’m gonna do that one as well.
Emma: Yeah, comparative titles, but it’s just comparative spaces because it’s not titled, obviously.
Elsie: I’m Gonna Do My Dream Home is the Spooky Mansion from Knives Out mixed with the cozy colonial revival from Father of the bride.
Emma: That’s how I would honestly describe your house. Immediately, I’m like, yeah, your house is the Knives Out house and the Father Of The Bride house. It really is a mashup of those two things, which is really funny and cute and cozy and spooky and fun.
Elsie: The dream, okay, that one is fun. This step is also another way to fully commit to the aesthetic, and I just wanna remind you that it is so normal to have other aesthetics that you love even almost as much as the one you picked. But you still have to pick one or else it is going to be challenging to make everything flow together. But I think one part of designing a dream home is deciding what it is and really fully committing to that. Okay, we’re getting to the fun part. So step number six is to choose a color scheme, so choosing a color scheme I believe is the most important part of creating a cohesive home. I actually think you can get away with floundering on your style a lot easier than you can flounder on your color scheme. I think that if you stay within a color scheme, even if your style is, quote-unquote eclectic, where it’s like a mixture of so many different styles. You really haven’t committed to anything. If you stay within the color scheme, you can still turn out with a room that is like weird, interesting and works together. For anyone who has problems with commitment, this is the essential, most important step, and I completely understand loving a hundred different colors. But I think narrowing it down to a scheme of colors, you can still have a hundred, but they all have to fit together on the same mood board.
Emma: Yeah, like how many colors do you recommend? And I feel like a lot of times when I see mood boards you’ve made, or just other things from the internet, there’s three that are like big. You get a big swatch and then there are these smaller ones that are kind of like the complimenting accent colors. If someone’s like, I really don’t know how many colors to pick, or whatever. So what would be your recommendation for that person?
Elsie: So I think of the color scheme as it’s very loose and I pretty much never worry about getting the exact color. I think it’s helpful for paint, especially if you’re gonna paint in your home all at once, all before you move in. If you’re gonna hire a painter and you’re gonna have to make a lot of decisions quickly, then it’s probably good to have, I would say like four to six paint colors where you have two whites and four or so colors that are fun colors or accent color, moody colors, whatever your theme is. But really it’s just staying with things that match within your scheme. Ultimately, it’s not really like it always color matching exactly. If we’re doing the earthy moody tones, that’s one thing. If we’re doing the bright, cheerful, pop of color with a lot of white, that’s another thing. And those two styles wouldn’t really play well together in the same home, you kind of have to choose your path.
Emma: Yeah, even understanding the tone, like this is gonna be more earthy, or I’m going with more like jewel tones. Like it’s really emerald green, but it could be dark. It could be light, but it’s not necessarily more of an earthy, muddy green. You know? That would be a different vibe.
Elsie: I think it’s almost cool to think of your home as like a movie set or something like that, where it’s like we have different scenes and there are different feelings. And you can have a room that’s very bright in a room that’s very dark, but you still want the colors to complement each other and you just don’t want them to feel like they’re from different movie sets. I like to do probably like 10 colors though, just to feel like I have some freedom. And then after, let’s talk about what happens after you’ve committed when you find something that just doesn’t fit because that’s always gonna be a thing that happens. So you have committed to your color scheme, but then there’s you know a launch at Target where they, come out with all this really cool yellow stuff. It’s like really bright and fun and it’s like, oh, maybe I could just, you know? You have to commit. This is the thing, this is the most important thing.
Emma: Or even worse, there’s a big sale, and it’s so close to the color you wanted, but it’s on sale. That’s where I get trapped, where I’m like, oh, it’s such a good price. And it’s like, Emma, it doesn’t fit with what you’re doing.
Elsie: Yeah, I kinda think you just have to pick your little color-storied universe and stay within that universe and evolve towards that goal, not away from it. You can find so many ways to explore color within your palette once you’ve committed to it. You’ll always find if there’s a trend you like or something new that comes up, you’ll always find a way to work it in. Don’t worry about that, but I think you just don’t wanna get things that don’t fit with it. Let’s talk about some of the advantages. So if you do this, then after a year or two on zero budget, you can move things around and switch things from all over your house and pretty much redecorate your whole home just by swapping, and everything matches. To me, this is like the ultimate money-saving hack.
Emma: Yeah, I agree. I also think if needed, you can tailor or tweak your color scheme, the ideal one that might be in your head towards things in your home that maybe you can’t change or don’t plan to change. So if you had a bathroom that was already full of tile that you didn’t plan to change, you like it, maybe it wasn’t what you would’ve picked, but you don’t wanna rip it all out, it’s not worth it to you. Then you could tweak it to work with that too. I would think about those things as you pick the color scheme as opposed to trying to like force-fit something with an existing feature that maybe just isn’t gonna work.
Elsie: Yeah, no, I agree with that. That’s referring back to step one. Let the home speak to you. There’s always something about your home that is a standout feature that you wanna highlight and something about your home that is a challenge that you want to minimize, and you can definitely use your colors and your furnishings to do those things.
Emma: I think too if you’re feeling like kinda bummed about something this where you’re like, oh, it’s limiting, this is just, you know, telling me what I can’t do. I would definitely reframe it in your mind. Cuz I think it’s more thinking of it like, the color scheme’s gonna help me from making mistakes from buying something that’s maybe expensive that isn’t gonna work and I’m gonna regret it. It’s not that it’s a limitation that’s like holding you back. It’s a tool that’s helping you craft the space that you want.
Elsie: A hundred percent completely agree. So this is my favorite step out of everything. You’re gonna love this step. This is when you know that you’ve almost made it and it becomes like truly gratifying. So you get to spend your night ordering paint samples. First of all, you can also just run to the store and pick them up. Tile samples, fabrics, swatches, and wallpaper samples. So anything that you think you might use, try to get a sample of it, and then if you can get items that represent the color. I don’t personally like usually buy just one piece of hardware because I don’t know. I just haven’t done that. But something that represents the color of the hardware, the types of, like I always put like a few of little brass items in with mine just cuz I know I like a lot. I think it’s a big collection that I have. The color that you would use for a frame, things like that. And try to just put them all out on your table and look at them all together and see. I think you can tell from it if this is like the feeling and the amount of texture and the amount of weather you want to be like busier, clean. Like you can get a feel for if you’re on the right path just from this sample shopping.
Emma: It’s really worth it because I have definitely had multiple times just when we renovated this house that I’m living in now, I bought a couple of tile samples and I was so glad I did because they didn’t look very good when they came in. And so I quickly changed to something else cause I was like, this just isn’t the quality that it looked like online. So I’m really glad I didn’t buy a whole bunch of it and just fill our bathroom with it because I don’t love it. And there was another time I bought a whole bunch of wallpaper samples and the one that I was really leaning towards when it came in, the sample was just kinda blurry, almost like it hadn’t been uploaded correctly or something. And so then it was like, I’m not gonna do that one. So I was really glad I didn’t buy a whole bunch of rolls of it and then be trying to return it or whatever I would’ve done cuz it just wasn’t quite there. So I feel like if you’re worried about, like, I don’t wanna buy all these samples, it’s a lot of money, is this really even worth it? It’s like, well, maybe not, but for me, I’ve had times where it saved me a lot of money and heartbreak because I got to see it in person and it wasn’t quite what I was thinking.
Elsie: I would say it’s 100% worth it to order as many samples as you can. Okay, so the last step is, as you renovate, refer back to your mood board and color scheme. This will keep you on track, cohesive, and working towards your chosen goal. This will help you resist new trends or things that catch your eye but just don’t fit. It’s so easy, especially for someone like me to get distracted by something new. But if it’s not what you chose in your long planning phase of narrowing down what you really want, then I think that you can take comfort in the idea that you picked this theme and this dream house for a reason. And there’s always gonna be other things that are good for other houses. Oh, I made some bonus tips too. I was really into this. Okay, and then one last thing is that I think when you are house shopping and then picking your theme and stuff, try to find a mood board and inspiration that you feel like you can grow into over time. Something that sort of surpasses trends and surpasses something that you feel like, I would’ve loved this when I was a kid. I would’ve loved this when I was 20. I think I’ll love this when I’m 50. Something that just kinda is more deeply connected with it and it doesn’t really matter what’s going on in the design world right now because honestly, the design world is really annoying. I think it’s entertaining and fun, but also like the things that are, like the in and out stuff, it can get old because it all changes absolutely constantly and there is always gonna be like a new thing that is very different from what you’re doing that you still appreciate. It’s not like fashion where you can try every trend if you want.
Emma: No, no. It’s a lot bigger commitment than fashion.
Elsie: Okay, so I did have three bonus tips and these are just like personal things, like things that from my experiences of trying to make my own dream home, I made my mid-century dream home. I’m currently making up, I guess, making up one from scratch for my 1990s McMansion, and someday in the future, I would hope to do a historic home, sort of like my fantasy home. So these are my tips based on what I’ve learned so far. Tip number one, you need to have at least three collections ongoing at all times. You can tell me if you agree or disagree. But for me, they’re all vintage collections, but they don’t have to be all vintage. I think collecting something that’s like art, something that’s entertainment, like books or games or even, I don’t know, I started collecting these like vintage dice, vintage dominoes, just I don’t know, pretty things that are also useful in your home I think makes it interesting. And it’s a decor item in your home that no one else has. That’s not available at Target that’s like it’s special.
Emma: Also, this is very random. When you have collections, it also gives people something to buy you because everyone knows that you collect vintage dominoes. Let’s just say Elsie just mentioned that one. Then if you know someone happens to be at a flea market or somewhere and they see a really pretty unique domino set, then they know, oh my gosh, this is like a really special present for Elsie who collects vintage dominoes. Just in case you’re like on the fence I don’t know if I want collections because that’s just like me getting stuff. It’s just so you know, it gives other people something to buy you, which is actually kinda nice.
Elsie: I do think that if you show up to a birthday party with the vintage gift, you are so cool. The next tip is to collect personal decor. So decorate your home with your photos, your memories, and weird little relics from your travels, like beautiful rooms that you see on the internet, on Pinterest. It doesn’t matter how fancy and expensive and classy. It lacks something before it has personal details. There’s a huge difference and so I think you can have the most beautiful room in the world, but until they put out their weird puzzle or their weird book collection or something like that, it just doesn’t feel like a home.
Emma: Yeah. I also think this can be family memories or travel. It also can be things from your career. For example, the other day I saved this check from my husband’s business, he’s been building something. But basically, the thing that it made me think about was I really wish I had like my first quote-unquote paycheck from Red Velvet Art, like the business that Elsie and I own. You probably think of it as a beautiful mess, but the name of it’s actually Red Velvet Art. And anyway, I don’t even know what it was or how much it was or anything, it was so long ago. But I wish I had it, I could frame it and have it in my home and it would mean so much to me now. So even if little things like that seem mundane at the moment, they might turn out to be really special later in life. But if you’re an artist or a graphic designer, like the first time you got paid for doing the thing that you’re excited about, or your first book deal. I think documents and checks and things like that obviously mark out any private information or write void on it. But I think it’s really special like those things can be really cool too. Things from your career, things from accomplishments. So I am thinking about it and wanna do it more in my life and I just wanna put it out there for anyone listening. Hang up your accomplishments, it’s cool.
Elsie: That’s true. And then another thing I head down is my grandmother’s glasses, eyeglasses from high school and then I also have this swimsuit that she wore on her honeymoon. And I’ve been planning that I should really frame those because even though like I can wear them, it isn’t something that I really do or will wear. And I think that it would be more meaningful and special. Like I can always take it out of the frame, but I just think it is something cool and things like that are more special than kind of anything. And then my last tip is to leave room for magic. So always find a place in every room to do something magical or weird. So essentially each room gets its own party trick. I think that there is something to be said when we started doing our hidden library, we did debate whether or not it was worth it because it was financially not worth it. Like I think on paper you could probably make a good case that this is not worth it, it doesn’t add really any square footage, and it doesn’t add any value. It doesn’t really add anything to our home besides like a closet that was the most expensive closet of all time. But, now that we did it and when people come over, I can tell, it’s like the thing in our home. It is the party trick and I’m so glad that we did it. So I think that leaving a little bit of space, doesn’t have to be expensive, but for things that are weird and cool and unique. I think that is just like really special.
Emma: Also, if you’re on a budget and you can’t build Elsie’s Hidden Library or Hidden Nia Wardrobe Library, there are all sorts of options. Whatever fits, like just buy a disco ball and put it somewhere where the light hits it at a certain time of day. I swear to God, that will be like dollar for dollar that’s a lot of magic for a little bit of money. You can also make it, you, there are all sorts of options. I always lean on, you’re not sure, like something with lighting, something with lights that you either turn on at night or that the sun hits in a special way. Those are just really fun little things to have throughout your house, and they can cost almost nothing. So you know, that’s an option. I also think the magic can come out sometimes in your collections or in the things that you set around the house. Like a really special coffee table book. Like I have this David Bowie coffee table book and anytime people come over, they always flip through it and it’s just mostly photos of him onstage and backstage, like getting ready and putting makeup on and the costumes that he would wear and things like that. And he’s one of those musicians that is a real chameleon. So he has so many different styles throughout the book and it’s fun.
Elsie: Well, I had so much fun doing the deep dive episode. Be sure to join us again next week. We are going to reflect on living half our lives offline and half our lives online, which I think is a really fun topic. So we’ll be back next week.
Love love love these tips!!! I used Elsie’s color scheme tip when we moved/purchased our first home in 2021, and it has helped so much. Can’t wait til we can move in to an older home someday – currently in a new build that was built to be the epitome of “Modern Farmhouse” (which I don’t love), but we are slowly adding character and charm. I completely agree about the collections!!! Hanging our art collection and my vintage mirror collection helped take the home in a more “cozy” direction. I think my ideal home would be Knives Out Mansion meets Your Grandma’s House In The 80s/90s. Haha!
These tips are so great. Is it an option to make a pin-able graphic for it? I’d love to have a clear overview in one image and review it regularly.
Having these tips together in one place is so helpful. I love the tip to research your home’s era. One of my favorite design inspirations recently has been…the children’s book “Goodnight Gorilla”! We’re talking about what elements to keep in our 1950’s California cottage, and arched entryways are my fave! There’s an excellent example in Goodnight Gorilla, so much so that I took a picture to save on my Pinterest board. 😀
Love having all these tips in one place – the “deep dive” episodes are such a fun idea! I’ve been following Elsie’s advice on pinning stuff for awhile now and it’s really been helping me to define what it is my home style is and making me excited for when I can finally move out of my tiny apt and have a space of my own. 🙂
Thanks for the tips! Just a friendly reminder, there are lots of reasons that people do not or cannot own a home aside from being “very young”. There a many aspirational home owners who are older.
I loved this episode. I had listened to almost all of these tips from you ladies before in previous episodes, but it was AWESOME to have it all in this episode. The “deep dives” are an excellent idea!! For my homework-struggling a bit with the three words but I can do Emma’s-my house is English row home meets casual Scandinavian cabin with a smidge of beach house thrown in. Seems crazy, but it mostly works! Keep up the great work, Ladies. I’m such a fan of your podcast.
Totally agree on researching your house’s era! Leaning into that is extremely helpful to make your house flow work as intended rather than fighting it. My house was built in the 80’s and one of my favorite things I did was buy some extremely 80’s swivel chairs on FB marketplace and recover them in a modern fabric. I probably wouldn’t have done that if hadn’t done a deep dive on 1980’s design.
I haven’t listened yet but absolutely will today. Love how you detail out the steps above and I think this is FANTASTIC advice to anyone, whether you are have just moved our are feeling a little blah about your space.