Our first (and only so far) home — excluding apartment and townhome (thank goodness for no more shared walls), was built in 1940. And when I think of our quaint brick red house on just shy of one acre of land, Maren Morris’s song “TheBones” comes to mind. But the version with Hozier, because…it’s way better.
The bones of this dang home are so dang good, thankfully, that all of the lipstick jobs and big renovation projects that we so badly wish we could do, seem worth while because she’ll last for as long as we let her. Because of that, one of the favorite things that I have done over the last five or so years that we’ve lived here is to dedicate time to one specific room of the house typically at the start of each year.
The first year was our guest room and making it into a nursery. Then came making the other room into an office, but shortly after that turning that room into another nursery. Next was the grunting three-seasons porch with old lime-green carpet, wood paneling on the walls and matching ceiling, one wall that had been completely demolished by previous owner’s dog that apparently lived in that room during the day, and much more. Then came repainting our entire first floor and hallway up to the upper level. Then making an outdoor patio. This January/February will be our basement. It’s never-ending…by choice.
This focused time and energy on one area in the home has been transformational in how we feel and live in our home. Even just that coat of a new, brighter paint tone did wonders to bringing a sense of cleanliness, freshness, and new beginnings. The projects haven’t been expensive, elaborate, or time-intensive, but ones that help bring life to a portion of the home that radiates into loving the entire home more.
Obviously, our 1940 home is a different story than other homes. Many of our friends live in brand new homes –they’re the first owners and no updates are needed. However, for them this project is still applicable and actually one that many of them are already doing to help make the home feel more like their’s and just another similar home in the area.
The things below are some of the ideas that we’ve utilized in our home to turn the space into a completely new feel:
Light fixtures and/or lamps
Lamps, hanging light fixtures, and table lamps can be items in a home that follow trends or are more traditional and not changed out as often. They are often forgotten about it seems, so swapping one or two out in a room can really change up the atmosphere. Things like the type and brightness of the lightbulb as well as the lamp shake are other factors to consider that impact the setting of a room. I’ve realized over the years that lighting in a room impacts me tremendously and having a well light room with either recessed lighting or lamps is key rather than harsh overhead lighting.
Growing up my mom let me paint my room really whenever I wanted to. From the age of four I was helping paint and within a matter of a few hours my room would go from a pale pink to lavender or “sea-foam green” (that was a favorite for a long time). It taught me how with just a gallon of paint you can have a whole new room without changing anything else in it.
My monochromatic-taste usually sticks to neutral shades, especially in the white family. It’s a popular choice lately and for good reason, as it gives so much natural light to a room and is easily paired with a variety of furniture and decor.
On maternity leave a few years ago I got a wild idea to get new rugs for most of the rooms in our house. There were some that were still in good condition and I either rolled them up and stored them under a bed for the time being, or I swapped them out in a different room.
Since my paint color and furniture is white and grey it was easy to find something with a completely different pattern and style that complimented those well, yet gave it a fresh flare.
Now we’re really talkin’ my love language. Indoor plants. Except as of late as they have been the breeding ground apparently for small gnat-like nuisances flying around our home and invading my plants. I love these dang things so much though that rather than throw out the $4 plant, I’ve tried many methods to eradicate them and will soon replace the soil even before giving them the heeve-ho.
One of my fav ladies, Jen of @paisleyandsparrow has always said every room should have a minimum of three plants, and I completely agree. It is unreal what adding a small green plant to a room will do to the astethics and your overall mood.
Once to twice a week all of my plants get checked for dryness and those that need it get a good soaking. When I take them down from their shelves, dressers, and walls the room has a totally different, bare feel to it. They are one of the main things added to a room when staging a home, yet one of the last things people think of when decorating their own home.
There are a ton of great options for easy indoor plants, especially low-light which are usually the most hearty. Think of where you want to put them in the room and assess the natural lighting. Plants such as pathos, snake plant, spider plant, monstera plant, and the ZZ plant are all fun and typically easy enough to care for yet add awesome character to a space.
Pictures & Frames
I change up my pictures, frames, and placement of them at least a few times a year. We have a fireplace with a mantel and it serves as a focal point in our living room. I never used to be good at taking, printing, and framing pictures on a semi-regular basis and I still wouldn’t consider myself as “good” at it, but I have made it more of an effort over the years. My desire to change things up a bit with the seasons helps in the need to get new pictures printed. Overall, it’s an easy way to keep updated family pictures present in your home and change up the look and feel to your room as well.
Shelves are always a bit tricky for me, I think mainly because they seem a bit more permanent, although they really aren’t. They can be taken down and moved easily and worse case scenario, if they leave a bigger hole or mark, you can patch it and repaint the spot in less than an hour.
I love what shelves add to a room though and the variety of ways you can utilize them. When I change up my pictures, I also swap out what is on some of my shelves as well. Most of the shelves in our home were actually ones that either my husband or I made. With a 1940 home we’ve played into the rustiness that the home naturally has at this point, so the shelves we built mirror that same look/feel.
The shelf shown below was one that I got to make at a women’s event hosted by @minnemamameetup with @paisleyandsparrow and @meghanjoytoday. It was held at Projects in Person where they showed us how to make the shelf and provided all of the materials to do so! It was super fun and now the once lonely smaller wall in our living room is home to this cutie!
I’ve slowly collected unique pieces of art over the years. Nothing of great monetary value, but more like fun pieces that I’ve found on different vacations. It is so fun to integrate them into my home and have reminders how the memories from a specific time and place. We’ve received a few bigger paintings from family members over the years as well, which have been such fun pieces to get and serve as statement art pieces in our home.
Both functional and decorative, there is something about an oversized clock that I love in many rooms of a home. We’ve had one in our living room since we moved in, and the last time I swapped out the battery I accidentally get it hung back up correctly and it came crashing down. Ironically, I had been getting a bit tired of that clock anyhow, so it served as a great time to purchase a new one. This time I opted for one the same size but a different style and it gave the living room a totally different vibe which I loved. For less than $30 it felt like the room was updated.
Pillows & throw blankets
I’m a minimalist when it comes to decorating most of the time — less is more, and especially when it comes to added color. Black and white, that’s pretty much as crazy as I get. But from time to time I do like to add in some accents and doing so with pillows and/or blankets is such a fun way to do it!
Sometimes it’s not even necessarily adding in a pop of color, but instead even a different material like a faux fur pillow or chunky knit blanket. Things like that can instantly make the room feel cozier. I have about 4-5 pillows I always have on the couch (or bed in the bedroom) and will either swap some out or add to them to change up the feel of the room.
In our home we have small spaces and not many furniture pieces or built-ins that are conducive for storage bins and baskets. However, I have utilized decorative wire crates or baskets for things like throw blankets or keeping a medium sized one near the front door to hold hats, mittens, and scarves each day. As we collect more and more things it seems with each passing year, I’m continually looking for ways to use bins and baskets that add visual appeal to a room as well as serve a function.
While it may not seem like it, most rooms can be arranged at least a couple different ways. I had the smallest bedroom growing up for a few years, and yet I arranged the 5 pieces of furniture in it I think every way it could go. In fact, my mom even crafted up a small replica of my room on a piece of paper (dimensions to size) and measured out how big the furniture pieces were, so that I could arrange them all on the piece of paper to see how it would fit and then we would actually move the furniture. I did it nearly monthly for a while and loved how in a matter of a few minutes I had a different room!
Now with my own home and furniture, I rarely think to do it. Mainly because most often I feel like there aren’t more options in such unique spaces in this old home, but I know if I were to just move even a few smaller furniture pieces I would find a new layout I would like just as much and give life to the room again.
Living spaces are fun and there are so many ways — both simple and inexpensive — to keep them feeling good, fresh, and vibrant. It is so important to feel good in your home and I think all too often we get complacent, or too caught up in our day-to-day that we glaze over the spaces we’re in every single day. Which of the items above will you try out in your own home first?!