Do you have a space in your home that seems so small and so trivial that you haven’t done anything to it for years?
And because you’ve left this space “as is”,you feel a little unsettled and even perhaps a little annoyed at the sight of it every time you happened to go by?
For me, our basement bathroom was that room…
It’s been this way since we moved in to this house about 7 years ago…
I know, not something you’d expect to see on a blog that talks about “Creating a home you love, for the ones you love.”
But, after years of putting it off and putting it off, I finally re-finished it!
Yes, it’s not a huge improvement… But still, for me, this was a huge accomplishment…
You see, even though this small re-design wasn’t that big a deal, to me, it was such a HUGE deal…
And considering that it took so little time and only $25 to finally get- it-done, it was a GREAT deal to boot!
I don’t know what took me so long… other than the fact that I was just being lazy about it…
But now, every time I pass by it, I smile…. Just a… little…
It reminds me that I finally finished the job, after years of procrastinating about it.
Now, that I was able to overcome this little minor hurdle, I have the momentum to start on a bigger much more ambitious project–my basement re-do! (post coming soon…)
Funny how all it takes is just one small thing, to get you out of your rut–whether it’s a starting a project in your home, or beginning a new career or in getting unstuck when you’re feeling stuck…
Getting started can be the hardest part.
That’s why I wanted to share with you this simple, no-fail, 5 Step Design System that will guide you through improving any space in your home–may that be a small powder room like mine or your master bedroom (I have to get this done, too).
I’m hoping that this will give you the “spark” you need to get you started on your projects, too!
First, here are the 5 Steps in a nutshell:
So let’s get started!
Design Step #1: Evaluate
In this step, try to stay as objective as possible in figuring out what you like in the space and what you don’t like, even if, you start off liking nothing.
If you spend some time to list out all the positives before you set out to fix all the negatives, you will avoid making decisions that you’ll regret later.
That’s what happened to me when I overhauled my first kitchen and replaced an older refrigerator with a new stainless steel one, only to find, once it was installed, that it didn’t look all that great in the space. Functionally, the used refrigerator could have worked perfectly fine and I would have saved a lot of money, if I’d just kept this part of the kitchen the way it was.
So…Take it from someone who’s had to learn this lesson the hard way:
Plan 1st. Design 2nd.
Here’s what I liked about the current space:
- The faucets, towel racks, glass shelf all had this white ceramic rim that reminded me of those traditional style European porcelain accents
- The ornate, gilded frame around this mirror gave this nondescript room some glam
- The strip lights-yes these are a throw back to the 90’s and not “in-style” right now, but it gives off enough wattage to brighten up this otherwise dark cubby hole of a space.
- The porcelain pedestal sink-what’s there not to like about a pedestal sink that saves space and looks great no matter what type of bathroom it’s in?
- American Standard builder’s grade toilet-It’s not a Kohler, but it’s clean, it’s functional, and it’s white. It’s just a toilet for heaven’s sake! It was staying.
- The yellow waste paper basket that I got from the TJ Maxx “as is” sales rack for a mere $3! Definitely keeping this!
Here’s a list of what I didn’t like:
- Stark white walls-can see every blemish and every bit of water drop splashed onto the walls
- Grey speckled vinyl floor tiles—yuck, yuck and double yuck!
- Lack of color and vibrancy-everything about it just said “dull” or “boring” to me.
If there’s one thing I realized, as I went through this exercise, as well as in the many other times I’ve done this before, is how often I’m able to see more positives when I stop fixating on the negatives.
I think that our tendency to get focused on the minor annoyances, makes us lose sight of all that we have and should be grateful for. In fact, just remembering that I even have a bathroom down here in the basement made me want to shout out a great big “THANK YOU” to God who allowed us a chance to live in a home like this.
Oftentimes, approaching any design project with a thankful heart like this not only helps you appreciate the space for what it is, but it can also help you cut down considerably on the cost and the scope of any home project.
This is exactly what happened here. In my evaluation, I realized that all that I needed for this space were some pops of color and some cohesiveness to make the space feel more pulled together if not make it feel a bit whimsical and fun.
Which takes me to my next step…
Design Step #2: Plan
Are you ready?
This is where you get to put on your fancy designer hat on. Where you get to plan out what you want the space to feel like, look like, and even smell like (It’s a bathroom, after all…).
Think of this like you’re putting an outfit together to go out on the town.
Consider what sort of first impression you’d like this space to make on you and others when they first see it? What colors, textures, or objects would make the space feel more you? Do you want it to feel bright, cheerful, luxurious, modern chic, or dramatic?
You should also budget your time and the amount of funds you’re going to allocate for this project from beginning to end.
The clearer you can picture in your mind all of these elements, the easier and quicker it will be to pull together all the random pieces of this project in the end.
In my assessment, I found that all I really needed for this space were some pops of much needed color—especially color that brightened and made the place feel more happy and not so grim.
I decided to rule out re-painting the walls, however, to save some time and effort and instead opted for playing up the wall space with some nice colorful prints with an easy to do DIY project.
Although I would never consider myself a serious decorator, I’ve always enjoyed, ever since I was little, repurposing old things and getting new use out of them. Re-purposing has always been so much more gratifying than buying a stock item from a store—especially when the refurbishing can be done as quickly and as inexpensively as the print art I ended up making to brighten up these stark white walls.
This frame I refurbished was originally a find from a neighbor’s garbage a while back. At the time, I was thinking about spray painting it black and using it for my upstairs photo gallery.
But when I spotted these colorful post cards during one my random trips to The Paper Store, I knew that these would be the perfect focal point I’d need for this simple bathroom re-design.
Honestly this DIY postcard wall frame project was so simple to do, and cost me so little time and money (Cards=$10; I had the spray paint=$0), I didn’t feel it worthwhile to give you a full tutorial on it.
However, if you’re interested, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to oblige.
In the meanwhile, you can check out my previous post on the 10 best ways to DIY wall art on the cheap.
The other thing I did for this space was to repaint this step stool my boys used when they were still little.
Not only will this step stool function well for all the little guests who happen to be stopping by for our home get-togethers, the gray paint I used pairs well with the existing yellow from the trash bin I kept, not to mention that it compliments the traditional ceramic rim around all the hardware that was there before.
Tres chic, mais non?
I think this is where a lot of people begin their re-design process even though, as many professional designers will tell you, it is THE worst possible place to start any re-design.
However, this is by far my most favorite step of any home decorating project!
Yet, the reason why I do not recommend that you start here is that it’s going to cause you more hassles than it’s worth.
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone tells me about buying something that looked really nice at the store only to find that it was a total fail when they brought it home.
Besides, leaving the finishing touches until the end gives you something to look forward to as you’re working through the “messy middle” of any home project.
Waiting until the end, until all the major components of the design are finished, will get your creative juices flowing again. It’s like giving the project some pulse when it seems to have flatlined.
These towels are from Home Goods ($15). I liked how it pulled together both the the yellow from the waste basket and the denim blue from the card prints.
This yellow candle container ($0) as well as the scented diffusers ($0) are transplants from my upstairs bathroom (It’s always good to shop your own house!).
And this lemon scented hand soap is from none other than good ole Trader Joe’s (soap=$0).
As you can see, whenever you push past the mental block that’s holding you back from doing what you know you should do, you can create that initial momentum to help you push through those bigger and more challenging obstacles.
This is really how I went about transforming one space after another in my home with barely any money, skills or talent. I just did one thing I can do after another until soon I was creating a home I love for the ones I love.
So what about you? Which room do you want to re-do but just can’t find the incentive to get started? Let these 5 Design Steps be your jump start in getting started today!
As you do, share with me via Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest or wherever else I can find you so we can celebrate!