10 Steps to Help You Begin Customizing Your Home

Feb 05, 2020

Much like a blank painter’s canvas, a home is ours to express whatever we wish to bring forth to share with others in our most intimate architectural space.

In October of last year I began sharing the journey of customizing my new house, and as 2020 began I dove in to making some changes, some customizations, to my house, thereby beginning to create a home, a sanctuary.

Today I would like to share with you the steps I took prior to making the decisions, investing the money and changing the aesthetics of the home so that you too can begin to customize your home and tailor it to what you need and love.

1.Live in it

As I shared in the first post, understanding how you want to live in your home is crucial in determining what changes and additions you will want to make and will be happy with for many years to come. For the past four months, upon waking up for the first time in my home on September 1st, I have been extremely conscious of what works well with my daily routine, what needs to be changed without a doubt and how I would like to change it, as well as how to maximize the uniqueness that already has been made available that may take time to appreciate.

From making a note that I am not a fan of the modern doorknobs (too many bruises to count upon running into them!), to eventually falling head over heels in love with my concrete (or something akin to concrete, I am still learning) countertops that initially I was not so sure of.

2. Create a Mood Board

As shared in the first post, creating a mood board is a helpful tool to enable you to visual what you want and recognize what will work best together.

It took me some time to gather everything you see below for my first round of projects, but eventually I narrowed down my choices and began to see a theme and color palette that was running through the entire house.

~My Mood Board Currently~

5 steps for creating your own mood board:

  1. Find a large board with cork or metal and magnets or a textile upon which you can attach many different items. I had this cork board previously in my kitchen, but in my new home there was no space. My dad made it for me years ago to save all of my recipes and other ideas of inspiration, and so I did not want to let it go. Thankfully, it worked perfectly for organizing my mood board.
  2. Organize by room. I printed and lamenated the names of the rooms of my focus, and one additional step you can make is to place the rooms that are next to each other or will be in the line of sight with each other, similarly on your your board to help you determine if the rooms will work well together.
  3. Order swatches and samples of all the possible items you are considering. Many swatches are free, and if there is a swatch that truly has your eye, paying the $1-$5 will be a cheap price to pay to confirm with confidence the investment you will eventually make. Below are a list of items to gather swatches for:
    • wallpaper
    • paint
    • upholstered furniture, fabric
    • curtains
    • lampshades (for my anglophiles!)
    • wood finishes
    • light fixture finishes (optional, not always possible or necessary)
    • rugs (optional, again, not always possible or necessary)
  4. Peruse Pinterest and/or Favorite magazines for color and print combining ideas, as well as layouts of furniture.
  5. Place the mood board where you can see the swatches in natural light at some point during the day to confidently determine what colors will work well together.

My mood board is currently laid atop my pub table in my living room, so I am constantly walking by it, stopping, reëxamining, replacing, considering, and confirming. Keeping the mood board visible is helpful as these are the colors and prints you are considering living with for a very long time. You want to fall in love and be drawn to your choices, you want to be comfortable with what the hues and shades will inspire, and spending regular time with them on the mood board is an inexpensive way to weed out the mistakes.

3. Give your home a name

Yes, name your home. I have chosen Le Papillon to speak to my French predilections as well as my affinity for butterflies, and you will settle upon a name that speaks to you and makes you smile and feel welcomed each time you think about it. Naming a home may found silly or unnecessary, but when we claim our space, we take more care, more responsibility as well as recognize the nurturing properties our sanctuary can provide and thus are more motivated to invest in it well.

4. Ask for what you want

The first project in my home was my mudroom (the full reveal will be shared in two weeks!), and you may remember the wallpaper I chose (see below). Well, this wallpaper almost was not to be mine. Why?

I came across Little Greene wallpaper which is located in Britain while reading one of the monthly issues of The English Home. I quickly went to their website and was drawn immediately to their designs. I attempted to have samples shipped to Bend, Oregon from England. Nope, not available via their online store. Next, I emailed and directly requested a sample be sent. Not a problem. They sent a sample straight away; however, if I wanted to order rolls of the wallpaper, the process would be a bit more complicated (i.e. I would have to set up a shipping account with FedEx or UPS or DHL, then speak to their shipping company in England to organize shipment – in other words, a pain.) Rest assured, I loved the wallpaper and would have followed these steps if I had to, but I searched around a bit more. That was when I came across the same wallpaper available from Tallantyre Interiors located in England as well, and they were willing, via an email request and exchange, to ship simply using payment via PayPal as many rolls as I needed without the hassle. Upon placing the order, my wallpaper arrived in fewer than seven days.

I have a few more positive stories similar to this one as I have been working with a few companies in England for additional projects and I look forward to sharing soon, but most significant takeaway for me was to ask for what you want even if on the website or shipping list it doesn’t indicate you will be able to order it. If you love something and you know it is exactly what you want, do not give up.

5. Live with the swatches/samples around the home

I shared a couple of weekends ago a picture (see below) of Norman surrounded by a few samples, both of which I was trying to determine if I indeed wanted (one for wallpaper and the other upholstery). By doing this, similar to leaving the mood board out, you begin to experience the swatch/fabric/samples during different types of daylight or lack-there-of, you begin to notice if it works with the rest of the color palette and you begin to determine if you love looking at it and living with it.

~Psst, don’t worry, the striped chair is staying exactly as it is. The upholstery was simply placed on this chair as an example.

6. Let the answers come to you. Have faith, they will eventually come.

As much as I initially would have said I wanted a home that was already completely done interior decoration-wise to save time and decision-making, the truth is, there isn’t even the most perfect home that would be exactly to my tastes, nor your either I would imagine. Customization is what enables us to put our signature on our home and create the feeling of ease, welcome and a private sanctuary.

When I first began pouring over samples for wallpaper in the mudroom, I was at a loss. I knew of an idea, but I had no idea where I would find it or what exactly it was. As soon as I came across Grosvenor’s Primrose which now hangs in the mudroom, I stopped and took note. At first I thought it was too perfect of a fit, but the confirmation came when the sample arrived.

The same can be said for the furniture you want, the layout you want, the lighting you want. When you see it, you may not know it immediately or for certain, but it will stick with you, and it will keep dancing around in your head, and one day, it will just click and you will be convinced and determined to make it the reality you live with each day. Trust the time that is needed for these decisions to be reached, because after all, it is your home, and you will spend time in it for years each and every day.

7. Wait for sales

As I mentioned after putting up new lights in my kitchen, January is a wonderful time (really, the winter months in general) to shop for large home decor items and appliances. Rejuvenation is one of my favorite lighting shops for brand new lighting that looks retro or vintage. Upon deciding on the style of shade I wanted, I waited for a sale that I had an inkling would come soon. Sure enough, a sale offering 20% off all lighting (even customized which mine had to be with the lengths of the pendants each being different), plus free shipping (which made an extreme difference in the price) came to my inbox and I pounced saving more than a couple hundred dollars.

So long as the items you love are items that will not likely go out of stock, waiting will be worth it.

8. Decide on the order of purchasing which items

Case in point, when it comes to furniture you have to have, upholstery that is a must-have versus items you need to bring everything together or for functionality, look at the order that is necessary to make the best decisions. For example, I fell in love with a fabric for my reading nook chair. I have decided to order the chair first and then, after living with it for a while, determine from that point what color I would like for my sofa and rug in my living room. I know I need a sofa and a rug, but I am not in a rush, and I want to make sure everything will work well together.

Similarly, tend to the walls first – wallpaper or paint – and then add the accessories that would sing when placed in front of the color you chosen. However, if you already have the beloved accessories, then work around what would make them shine. Ultimately, it comes down to priority and the aesthetic and mood you are trying to create. It often is best is revealed in layers rather than all at once.

9. Ponder the following question: What energy do you want your home to provide?

Knowing yourself and the people who will inhabit the home is crucial to making the best decisions when it comes to everything from furniture to color schemes to customization of appliances, organizational details, lighting, etc..

What decor aesthetic makes you feel at home? Modern, traditional, French country, snow cabin cozy, English cottage cozy, classic Parisian or a mix of many.

Then ask yourself what colors, prints, textures makes you feel welcome, at home, relaxed and calm. Or if you want to feel energized, jazzed, constantly inspired, etc.

Knowing yourself, knowing what keeps your spirits uplifted will help you determine the color scheme and story you want to share in your home.

One of the significant design details that caught my attention with my home is all of the natural light on the south facing side. Having lived in a rental for four years in which very natural little light entered the home and as well had low ceilings, I wanted my new home to be lighter, brighter, but naturally so, and refreshed. As you can see from my moodboard, my color scheme is not dark, but rather combines sea and coastal colors which is entirely intentional. I will talk more about the idea of telling a story in your home as well as looking to nature to help you determine your color scheme, but for now, begin to examine how you want your home to make you feel, and then let that knowledge guide you in your decor decisions.

10. Be patient

Not only will being patient be a good idea for your budget, it is also a good idea to lessen the stress to ensure the decisions you make, the details you welcome into your home, are ones that you sincerely love and speak to the home you have dreamt of creating. So many of the items, as I shared in this post, currently in my home are items I love and have collected over the many years leading up to my purchase this past year. Whether from your travels or finding something unexpectedly at a secondhand shop that catches your eye, all of these items will gradually be found and when you welcome them into your home, you will be happy you waited until it introduced itself to you.

The customization of Le Papillon will take time, but I look forward to sharing with you the journey. As 2020 steps into its second month, look for there to be at least two TSLL Customization inspired posts each month, appearing on Wednesdays. The next post will be in two weeks, the Mudroom’s big reveal, and I cannot wait to show you how it all came together.

Thank you for stopping by and for all of TSLL House posts, have a look here.

12 thoughts on “10 Steps to Help You Begin Customizing Your Home

  1. I manage to find what I want almost by magic: First, I visualize what I want (a leather sofa, a sideboard for the kitchen.) Then I just go about my usual business, not pushing to find the thing. I am a long-time garage saler, and I usually manage to find exactly what I am looking for at a garage sale, consignment shop… and sometimes even by someone’s trash! I don’t have to do a lot of tedious shopping, I don’t have to spend a lot of money (sometimes just a little time and elbow grease), and I somehow get exactly what I wanted.

  2. In the past I never thought I would splurge this way, but after moving in with my significant other and trying to merge styles, belongings, and deal with decorating a larger home than I was accustomed, I hired an interior designer. Although it is an additional expense, I found it well worth it as the particular designer I worked with did not up-charge purchases and in fact passed on to us her designer discount for things like large furniture purchases. When all was said and done, a large portion of her hourly fees were probably offset by these discounts. It’s been a work in progress, room by room, as we could afford it over the last 8 years. I’ve been so pleased with the results though that I tell everyone what a huge benefit a designer was. She certainly proposed things that I never would have thought of doing, yet now love!

    1. Carrie, thank you very much for sharing your experience. It sounds like a wise investment. I have no doubt you have many people asking for contact info for your interior design which is an organic way of finding clients. Thank you again! 🙂

  3. My hubby and I bought our house together last year. We had always lived separately. He has a very traditional sense of style and inherited a lot of antiques. I love my glam style with crystals and animal print everywhere. It was a bit overwhelming to merge the two styles, but we have been creative. And a lot of things you would think could not merge tastefully actually do work. (For example, I still have my glam accents but in small doses. My 15 foot zebra print hallway runner has morphed into a small turquoise lambfur throwrug from Ikea He still has some antiques but now his traditional roll top desk is repurposed into a media storage spot in his den.)

    The key for us is to take it slowly and thoughtfully! We have spent a lot of time looking at wallpaper and paint swatches and tile samples. We have poured through pinterest and decorating magazines. We try to have fun and compromise and feather our nest together. We still have a couple rooms to go, but it has been really fun.

    1. Gloria, thank you so very much for sharing this coming together of unique signature style. I think you will help and inspire a lot of people in a similar situation. I know my mind is put at ease reading your comment that it is indeed possible. 🙂

  4. So much great information today, and ideas! I like to use the colors I like to wear and the colors my husband wears, to use in our home. Most of them are neutral color, so then we add a bit of red and maroon here and there, and for green add plants.
    Good luck Shannon! It seems like you are having so much fun!

  5. What a wonderful post! I will be doing some redecorating soon and this post was so helpful. I can’t wait to start my vision board.
    Love the blog and podcast!

  6. I named my home. I do not find it unusual or odd. I love the name of your home. It suits. I can’t wait to see how Le Papillon emerges.

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