361: 33 Decorating & Construction Lessons I Learned Customizing Le Papillon (a 3+ year journey)
Wednesday July 19, 2023

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The journey of customizing Le Papillon, my house and home in Bend, Oregon, since September 2019 has provided much opportunity for learning both about the actual and practical purpose of home remodeling and decorating but also for self-growth. Over the past nearly four years, an abundance of experiences, discoveries, lessons and ‘wow’ moments have been collected which is why I wanted to share today’s detailed and lengthy (90 minutes) episode with listeners of The Simple Sophisticate podcast.

As I share at the beginning of today’s episode, while it has been a dream of mine to customize my own home, I never actually planned to spend the past four years doing so, but the timing and opportunity presented itself to continue moving forward once my first “must-do” project (the kitchen) was completed, and now with the installation of the front porch screen door you see a glimpse of above, the journey is complete, and I am eager to share with you 33 lessons I have learned throughout the experience, so that you can confidently and more enjoyably take part in your own customization of your sanctuary that will, when you dare to trust what you discover and learn how to do what is needed, provide priceless refuge, rejuvenation, inspiration and joy for the life that brings you deep contentment.

No doubt, the journey had its headaches, stresses and questions along the way (for example, when will the bathroom ever get done!), but I share here and in the podcast episode, without any hesitation, it was worth it, to be able to call home and live my life now in a home that works with me, nourishes me and helps me feel secure but also confident enough to try to soar and explore when I step out the door into the world.

So let’s begin! In the Show Notes below I have only included the 33 bulleted points and left the detailed conversation, examples and ideas solely in the audio section as otherwise, this post would have been very loooooong. To thank you for your patience as there was no new episode on the 1st Wednesday of this month, I have two Petit Plaisirs to share with you today, and I look forward to sharing those with you at the end of this post and episode. Now to the episode!

~Note to readers: Be sure to tune in to the audio version of this episode as I talk in detail about each of the 33 points below.

~Explore becoming a TOP Tier Member of TSLL International Community and discover the many benefits as well as read testimonials from current members so that you can begin viewing the exclusive content of all of TSLL’s home tours that will be linked below and were mentioned in the episode. (There are one-time passes available as well.)

~I mentioned throughout the episode that even more tips for my approach to decorating as well as budget ideas were shared when I was a recent guest on podcast Decorating Tips & Tricks with Anita Joyce. Here is a link to that episode.

Making the Best Decisions for You

1.Patience is key for knowing what will work best.

~take the Office Tour here~

2. If you aren’t sure yet, keep searching. It will pounce on you when you do.

~The foyer and entry (interior and exterior) house tour, complete with a custom wood screen door is complete! Take a tour here.

3. Choose an item (piece of furniture, window, work of art, item in your kitchen – the stove) that is the star of the room and everything else will support that.


4. Metal finishes don’t have to be all the same exact finish, but they need to be in the same metal family.

5. Dismiss trends. Follow what speaks to you and makes you feel at home. Design from that space and you will be happier far longer.

6. Invest in the sofa, and recover high quality hand-me-down chairs.

7. Know how you live best in your house.

8. Choose color combinations that work well in Mother Nature naturally. Stick to a few colors in each room – not too many.

Working with Others (Contractors, Designers, Subcontractors, etc.)

9. Patience is also key when working with your many subcontractors, experts and contractor.

10. Buy as many of the items directly rather than have your contractor do so. It will save you money.

11. Make sure every item arrives that you ordered immediately upon arrival. If not, call and get it sent ASAP.

12. Have pictures of exactly what you are thinking – design of tiles, placement of fixtures, style of curtains, etc.

13. Get ready to find your voice. You will need it.

14. Check each invoice to confirm correct itemization for charges for the retailer and your contractor’s percentage charged

15. Be willing to live in your house or visit it everyday if you can to ensure quality of work and correct work is done – speeds up the process.

16. Don’t take their word at face value. Come prepared. Know your house and be comfortable walking away and finding someone else.

17. Keep checking in.

18. “Man-splaining” will likely happen. Be prepared for egos to be bruised when you speak up. Do so with grace, but with strength. It’s hard, but will help you sleep better.

Skills that will Give You Options

19. How to choose and coordinate prints (wallpaper and upholstery).

Take a Tour of the first room to be remodeled and redesigned – The English-inspired Boot & Basket room.

20. Lead the eye into the next room by creating interest visually.

21. Details matter. Tend to them as you can afford.

22. Shop consignment and barter.

23. Invest in quality fabric for curtains, BUT keep in mind that you don’t need an interior designer if you know what you want. This will save you money. Find a seamstress you trust and work directly with them.

24. Just because you haven’t done something before, doesn’t mean you cannot teach yourself to do it.

25. Wallpaper is powerful and immediately adds a signature to a room. Dare to do it. Start in a small room first to gather your nerve.

~Click here to discover how to Wallpaper all by Yourself (yes, you can!)

What Makes Le Papillon Feel Like My Forever Home

26. Don’t ask others to approve. Instead, look to those who understand design and ask how something works, then begin making decisions with this gained wisdom that speak to your taste.

27. Prioritize the entries of your home – the front (exterior and interior) and how you enter your home (from the garage, for example), if different.

Tour the front entry of Le Papillon here.

28. Acknowledge where you spend most of your time. Start there.

29. Let the light in.

30. Create multiple Snug areas throughout the home (outside too).

31. Fresh flowers

32. Include details that make you smile.

33. Tech and clocks have their place, but none of them need to be glaringly obvious or obstructive.

Similar Posts/Episodes You Might Enjoy:

Petit Plaisirs

~Foyle’s War

~Seaside Hotel (originally titled Badehotellet)

~Explore more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.

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8 thoughts on “361: 33 Decorating & Construction Lessons I Learned Customizing Le Papillon (a 3+ year journey)

  1. Shannon, I am so outdone by your patience. You have worked hard and your efforts have paid off, indeed! You’ve knocks my socks off! Thank you for this beautifully crafted post. I’ve so enjoyed reading every word. Now, enjoy! ~ Teresa

  2. Shannon~

    What a fabulous podcast, with a plethora of wonderful ideas and advice. I wish I would have had this information when we rebuilt our home after the fire, but alas, we did not have the time, nor the proper contractor, to put the time in or invest in key pieces as we were replacing everything. After five years, I am slowly adding more personal touches that are making it more like “home” to us.

    There was so much I could relate to in your list. In 2017, “farmhouse” was all the rage, and we did implement a lot of it in our home, most of which I still like since I have always appreciated the “eclecticness” of a traditional farmhouse, which was filled with hand-me-downs and useful items. But, as you all may remember, that style is pretty monotonous and lacks a lot of character so I am making some changes here and there to brighten things up.
    We chose an Arts & Crafts exterior, so I too am trying to implement those touches throughout, including brass switch plate covers.
    Like you, there were times I really had to “stick to my guns” on my ideas and I am so happy I did. Although at the time it was extremely stressful, and sometimes even hostile, I refused to let the contractor or the drafter, (or even my husband who never cooks trying to tell me how I wanted my kitchen) convince me of what they felt I wanted. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I heard, “You don’t really want that” or “You are not going to like that”. They were wrong on all counts, and I now have the pleasure of hearing my husband say with pride to those who compliment our home that I designed it in spite of them.
    And you are so right about the “man-splaining”! I hate to admit, that I did not often handle those moments with grace.
    I was also given a hard time about not letting anyone outside the immediate family privy to my ideas ahead of time as I did not want anyone else’s input on what I should or should not do or should or should not like. I was hearing enough of that from all of the men involved in the project, I did not need to hear any more unwelcomed opinions. As you mentioned, it would have become someone else’s home and not ours. I felt like such a difficult person at the time, but I was forced to be firm by the way I was being treated, and creating a sanctuary for all of us after such a tramatic loss was my only objective.

    I have copied your list and made lots of notes so that I can begin making those much-needed tweaks for a cozier aesthetic.

    Again, thank you for sharing this list, and I have so enjoyed your taking us all on this journey with you.

    ~Michelle xx

    1. Michelle,

      Thank you for your comment and I am so sorry first of all that you lost your house in the fire (I remember you sharing this a couple of years ago), and then being second guessed so often during the remodeling project. I applaud you for your tenacity and strength to trust yourself and what you knew would work. I have a feeling you had more grace than you realized and any moments that were not were more than warranted.

      You know, as I reflect on such instances in my own journey, I can now notice, anyone who said something wasn’t possible or that my idea wasn’t the best was often coming from someone who didn’t know how to accomplish what I envisioned. This occurred with both men and women subcontractors or salespeople and so I have realized it is often not that my vision was wrong or not best, but that they wouldn’t be able to get either a sale from me if they said they can’t do it or wouldn’t be hired. Contrarily, I so appreciate when my tiler, who had 30+ years in the business, while knowing my shower would be difficult, didn’t once try to dissuade me from my vision but rather acknowledged, this is a challenge, but I am up for it, and he came prepared, planned ahead, asked more questions to confirm what I wanted and consequently, his determination combined with his experience produced a beautiful result. He was a joy to work with and he loved what he did which no doubt made it possible to keep an open mind and explore a new design.

      Of course, it is easier to understand the motivations after the fact, but often someone’s obstinance or attempt to deter is a reflection on their situation rather than our choice, but we presume that they can do it and do it well because of their job title. As with any career I suppose, expertise takes time and intentional effort and the decision to keep learning.

      I am so happy you have a kitchen you enjoy. Thank you very much for sharing what I have a feeling will bring some ease to others’ as it will validate how they felt and to trust their instincts. 🙂 xo

  3. Shannon you have invested your time and energy into creating a home. Every aspect has been well thought out, researched and implemented . A bespoke and cozy one at that. I had many things hand made or commissioned as a one off when I was on my decorating journey and some of those pieces are still with me. Our homes should be a place we don’t want to leave but if we have to it’s always such a joy to return to.. Our homes should reflect who we are and sometimes if you have to consider someone else’s taste you have to be able to negotiate and compromise on some things. You were in the wonderful situation of just pleasing yourself. I’m not at the stage where I need to redecorate much but the TSLL community will certainly be inspired by what you have achieved. May you enjoy your lovely home for many years to come. Kameela😊

  4. Hi Shannon – I just loved this episode with so many great tips from the lessons you learned from customizing Le Papillon. It’s so important to take debrief notes after any big house project/remodel, especially if you had some bumps along the way. I would also add to #33 – Tech and clocks have their place, but none of them need to be glaringly obvious or obstructive – SONOS SPEAKERS! They are so cool, not obstructive at all and you can move them around your house to suit your needs. I have several all over my house and I’m in love with them.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful home with us! And also for suggesting CreateAcademy! I watched a few of the free lessons today – I will definitely be taking a few of these courses. Rita Konig’s looks fantastic!

    Merci beaucoup,

    1. Dominique,

      Thank you for tuning in! Debriefing certainly is beneficial, if nothing else to deepen our appreciation of all that was accomplished and worked for and invested in. Thank you fo4 sharing the sound system that works for you. I use my portable petite Robert’s radios as they have great quality sound and also fit with my decor (cottage, retro, etc.). Having a good sound system is a wonderful inclusion as you have shared. Thank you for the reminder for us all! ☺️

      Tickled to hear you explored CreateAcademy. There are soooo many courses now from amazing talented people. When I took my course, CA was just getting started and Rita’s course was the only one, but a great one to set the bar high. 😌 I am confident if you select a course, you will find it well worth the price. And forever access! Enjoy! And thank you again for stopping by.

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