22 Tips for Creating a Grown-Up’s Living Space
Monday March 10, 2014

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“A home should be a distillation of your interests, of who you really are. If you’re happy with your life, your space will reflect that.”—Designer Rafael de Cárdenas, Elle Decor October 10

The destination we come home to each night after a long day’s work, after an exhilarating evening out or after stepping off a plane having experienced unique travel destinations, should be a place we feel most ourselves, comfortable, and rejuvenated.

As a young girl who became ecstatic when my mother gave her permission to redesign her bedroom as a junior in high school, I have continued to step into each new space I have lived in and done my best (with the budget available) to make it a sanctuary.

Beginning next week, I will begin a four part series of the tour of my home. Over the past few months, I have been in the process of giving a facelift to my dining room, living room, office and hallway, and finally the pieces have come together. With detailed tips on how I created a space that I love more than I could have at first imagined, I will walk readers through the steps so that you too can do the same for your home as well.

Also, in even bigger, permanent news, during my time of being knee-deep in decor projects, I have realized that something was lacking on the blog – regular decor inspiration. So . . . .

Beginning tomorrow, a new weekly post will debut here on The Simply Luxurious Life, simply titled Decor Inspiration. Each Tuesday (don’t worry, This & That will continue to appear on Tuesday as well to keep you up-to-date, and in the know of all things literary, artistic, stylish and interesting) an inspired living space (an entire home, an exquisite room or a breath-taking outdoor space) will be shared with brief commentary. In other words, as you continue to look for inspiration to curate a simply luxurious sanctuary, I will be sharing the many different spaces that catch my eye from around the web and in decor magazines each week.

And to kick it all off, I wanted to share a list of ways anyone can begin to create a living space that is uniquely their own, reflecting their signature style, but also is suited for entertaining and resale (if you are a home-owner).

While the details, size and budget will differ, no matter what your age, you can live in a home that is tailored to your needs, reflects your unique self as well as being welcoming to any guest(s) you welcome and entertain in your home. After all, we all need a soft, blissfully cozy bed to sleep in each night, we all need a place to restore us so that we are our best selves as a new day begins and that is the gift of the time investing in creating a simply luxurious sanctuary. Have a look and enjoy beginning or fine-tuning your very own sanctuary.

1.  Invest in Your Decor As Much or More Than Your Wardrobe

I’m not talking about purchasing furniture simply to impress your family or friends that completely destroys your budget. I’m talking about investing in items that will last, that are within your budget and that are either beautiful and properly function to bring ease to your everyday way of living.

2.  Appreciate the Power of the Perfect Throw Pillows 

Neutral furniture can immediately be elevated and a room completed with the touch of throw pillows. Welcome variety – texture, color, print – and bring your room to life. And consider making you’re own. It’s far cheaper and tailored to your precise aesthetic. (I’ll show you where and how in my home tour series.)

3. A Quality Sofa/Dining Table/Headboard/Desk Elevates the Entire Room

Mixing and matching is a must in any well-styled home. You certainly don’t need designer-item everything, but by bringing in quality dining room chairs even if the table is a refinished yard sale find, you can create an Elle Decor-worthy space.

4. Display Original Art that Speaks to You

Whether it’s framed photographs that you’ve taken or a piece from a local painter that you became smitten with at the boutique gallery down the street, welcome into your home and proudly display original art that speaks to you. Each time you see it you should be inspired or at least reminded of what it was that was sparked within you when you purchased it or created it.

5. Welcome the Natural Light, Adorn Respectfully

The more natural light the better – for your mood and health, as well as for the most flattering lighting.  In fact, when looking for a home to rent or buy, keep this in mind. Try to live in a space that has light in every room, and preferably windows on at least two sides of the four walls (where possible). And no matter how much natural light you have, maximize it rather than adding too many window treatments and minimizing the light.

6. Choose Flattering Light

When you can’t have natural lighting or the day turns to night, make sure you have table lamps, floor lamps and/or chandeliers that are flattering. Over-head lighting (besides chandeliers) is something to keep in kitchens, hallways and bathrooms where clear and bright light is necessary for navigation and careful work. And while most rooms will have a ceiling light fixture, consider the wattage (or add a dimmer) and always have alternative light on tabletops, desks and side tables. Along with adding warmth, it will make guests feel less on the spot and set the right tone of being welcoming and inviting.

7. Table Top Details Matter

Creating a unique, stylish, yet functional vignette on coffee tables and side tables often can be daunting to anyone who hasn’t tried it, but once you know some basic tips (which I will share on the blog in the next few weeks), you will quickly become an expert and create table top decor that invites conversation, completes a room and speaks to your signature style.

8. Matching Dishes/Wine Glasses/Silverware

When in doubt go basic white (as I did in my kitchen), but even if you like an eclectic look, then at least stick with the same shapes. Simply by adhering to a matching formula, you present a purposeful and thoughtful presentation which makes the food all the more inviting.

9. Real Flowers Brighten a Room

As spring arrives, peonies are on my mind. But regardless of the season, it is the beauty that flowers bring when placed throughout our homes that lifts our mood and bring a small piece of Mother Nature into our abodes which offers a calming touch.

10. Thoughtful Organization, Clutter-Free Living

A grown-up home is a clean and clutter-free space. You don’t have to live like a minimalist with only 100 items in your entire home to reap the benefits of living in a clutter-free environment. Studies have shown that excess in our homes increases our stress which over time deteriorates our health. (Click here for a 3 part guide on how to organize your home.)

11. The Power of One Unexpected Element (not many which might just freak guests out)

Only you can determine what the perfect unexpected element is for your home, but when you see it, you’ll know. The key is to choose one item otherwise the attention that the original item was intended to grab will be diluted. It could be a red wall or a purple couch or perhaps a unique collection of items in a designated shelf – whatever it is, welcome it and accessorize accordingly. And when you’re ready to change (as I was after a year of living with a red living room), you’ll know. After all, that’s what another can of paint is for.

12. A Well Organized Book Shelf

Whether you keep a book shelf in your living room, office or bedroom, enjoy organizing it in such a way that even you are encouraged to go and pick up another book to read. Include a few unique decor items that you’ve collected from your travels and try not to clutter the shelf. After all, if you have too many books, that’s a very good problem to have (simply donate, or add another shelf if possible).

13. Matching Towels/Hand Towels

A simple finishing touch to your bathroom is to buy matching towels. I prefer white because they are easiest to keep their original color and don’t fade. Also, consider buying the best quality you can afford. When you step out of the shower, you will be glad you did.

14. A Luxurious Throw for the Living Room and/or Bedroom

Whatever the fabric you choose, it doesn’t have be expensive. Some of the throws I currently use were yard-sale finds, but by tossing one on the couch or on the bed (or guest bed), a soft finished look is created that adds subtle warmth and comfort.

15. Dual Bedside Tables

If you have the space, regardless of whether you share your bedroom or not, two bedside tables add balance and proportion to a bedroom. And since our bedrooms are the most intimate space of all, it is imperative we pay close attention to how we decorate.

16. An Intelligent Use of Space

Small or large, it takes time to know how to decorate a space. Even if you live in a cozy studio, take the time to figure out what would work best in your home as well as what would work best for your lifestyle. While the ideal decor you crave won’t magically occur overnight, it will occur eventually, and you will be glad you were patient.

17. A Sensible Display of the Person(s) Who Live in the Home

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and one of the first walls you see is covered with randomly framed pictures? At that point, you may be thinking, ‘Creative‘. But then you look on the other walls, and they too are full of similarly organized pictures, and then you feel almost suffocated with the home-owners family, as though you’ve walked into their familial museum. Okay, maybe that precise response is just me, but my point in sharing this is to suggest we, as home dwellers, introduce ourselves in small ways around the house through pictures, but we need not “expose all”. After all, that is what conversation is for and that is why we invite people into our homes. And remember, we can introduce ourselves beyond the use of pictures, as to provoke conversation, and invite curiosity – a unique artifact, an original first edition copy of a particular book, etc.

18. Maintenance Tools are at the Ready (or the number for a reliable fix-it person)

From weekly cleaning supplies, to tightening a leaky faucet, be sure to have your stocked toolbox at the ready to save yourself time, frustration and keep your house functioning at its best.

19. A Designated Buffet Table/Cart for Entertaining

Any piece of furniture that you can creatively use to place appetizers or drinks on is a great addition. Think bar carts or a console table, and when it’s not in use for entertaining, add a beautiful bouquet or unique bowl or bust.

20. Conversation Rather than Television is Catered To

If you only have a living room (without an additional family or recreational room), you will most likely have a television placed somewhere. However, do you best to rearrange your furniture so that conversation is encouraged rather than staging all furniture facing the tv.

21. An Office Space that Prompts Productivity/Creativity

A place for the computer, files and a room for contemplating and creation is an indication that you value productivity and organization. Whether you have a separate room or simply create an area in another room, organize it in such a way to create the design to sit down and get busy. (Click here to view a detailed list of how to create a productive office.)

22. The Talent of Area Rugs

Large or small. Expensive or Ikea. Area rugs define a space and reduce reverberation. Keep it simple, allow them to be the unexpected element, layer one rug on top of another, even if you have carpet, rugs are a wonderful idea.

Thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

13 thoughts on “22 Tips for Creating a Grown-Up’s Living Space

  1. Shannon I’m very excited about the decor section being introduced on your blog, this post was a marvellous start. I’d like to make a suggestion for hanging pictures — we have an art and framing shop — always hang from two wall hooks rather than one. Two hooks distributes weight better (no more smashed glass) and prevents your pictures slipping out of square.

  2. Can’t wait to see your house transformation pictures Shannon! Great work and wonderful post as always

  3. Really lovely post Shannon. I wrote something similar, “Creating the Ideal Personal Space,” only a few days ago. My focus was on dorm room/ single room living for college aged individuals and it incorporates many of the same elements. I think this is a testament to the impact being a long time reader of TSLL has had on me. I’m looking forward to your new Tuesday series. All the best.

  4. I love that you will be sharing decor posts specifically! I am moving to a brand new condo next weekend that has been under construction for nearly 3 years, it is finally ready and I will be spending a lot of time decorating! So I’m looking forward to the inspiration.

  5. Shannon, I love the new addition to the family! This was a lovely and informative post! I am looking forward to seeing the results of your home! Have a blessed week! Michelle

  6. Hi Shannon,love the post,really looking forward to the new decor inspiration.I n the prossess of picking colours for my bedroom,hopefully will pick up some tips from your post.Have a great week.T ake care.Sue.

  7. I am so glad you added the decor piece! And just when I thought your blog couldn’t get any more perfect!

  8. Shannon –

    Thank you for such an exciting post! I am really looking forward to this new series as now that I am living in an apartment I hate do I fully realize the impact our homes have on us psychologically and emotional well being.

  9. Thanks to your insightful posts I’m well on my way discovering and identifying my tastes in personal wardrobe style but am not quite sure how to translate that into sanctuary style… Really looking forward to your upcoming tours for ideas!

  10. Shannon, I am delighted you are inviting us into your space. I also wanted to take a moment to thank you for the time and effort you take to make your blog lovely, informative and useful! I follow several blogs, but nothing will make me unfollow more quickly than those “Well, I couldn’t think of anything to post so I am throwing on a photo of my half-eaten dinner….” posts. Your blog is full of rich language and is so visually pleasing that It has become my favorite!

  11. I just realized that I’ve been in the same apt. six years and I have yet to make it “grown up”. Glad you posted this. I am no good at interiors. Plus, I still have furniture from college so it’s time for an upgrade.

    My biggest struggle is that I want to buy a house and am not quite sure when it will happen. I can’t decide if I should buy furniture now or what until I have the house.

    Anyway, great read.

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