DEAR GAIL: Why is it so hard to decorate your own house? I just got married and moved into my husband’s house; it’s much larger than mine. We’re using all of my things since they are newer, but I’ve just been struggling placing my furniture and artwork. I know the rooms are different, but I’m overwhelmed and just want to get the house set up. Please help? – Torrie
DEAR TORRIE: You’re not alone; many people find it difficult decorating their own home, especially when moving things from one house to another. “Why don’t my things fit the same way?” “I bought this specifically for the family room in my other house; I can’t use it in the living room.” “It just has to go in this room because it always has.”
So where do you start? You need to accept that this house is different. Accept that each room is laid out differently. You might have more or less windows, more open space versus individual rooms, more or less rooms, or maybe you now have a two-story versus a single-story home. I know this sounds like common sense, but it’s the reason why things don’t fit the same way.
Now grab a friend who can help you, or hire someone who will have a fresh perspective. Start by determining the function of each room, besides your kitchen, that’s obvious. Who says that the living room can’t be your family room? Maybe in this house the living room is bigger and will be a better place to watch TV. I’ve done this many times.
Nothing says that just because a room was labeled one thing on the floor plan it has to be used in that way. In my house, the once-formal dining room is where our birds are. I don’t think you’ll see a room specifically noted as a bird’s room on any floor plan. Yes, we could have put them in a spare bedroom, but then they’re not part of our daily activities. It’s important that they have visual stimulation and can see us throughout the day.
Next, don’t get hung up on what rooms you had your furniture and artwork in before. Or what pieces you had together. Sofas and tables can be switched between rooms. The only thing you need to be concerned about is the durability of the items. A silk sofa wouldn’t be the best option in a well-used family room. But maybe because of the size of the room and how you’re arranging the furniture, the living room side tables really fit better in the family room. Just because you had a console table behind your sofa, doesn’t mean it can’t go in your guest room as an accent piece.
Think of every piece in a different way. Ask yourself, how else can it be used and where? Of course, buying new furniture to fit in your new home is an option; it’s not always in the budget. So use what you have first. As Tim Gunn from “Project Runway” says, “Make it work.”
I find artwork can be a troublesome item when moving to another house. The wall space can be so different because of window placement and doorways. Homeowners really struggle with this one.
“I had that piece over my sofa in my last house, but the only place I can put my sofa now is under the windows. What am I going to do with it now?”
So I always like to start with pieces that absolutely must be hung at that moment. If there’s room for all of them that’s great, but many times there’s not. But don’t despair as you can always switch things out every six months or once a year. Start with the biggest pieces, then add in the rest. If you had a lot of smaller pieces throughout your last house, is there a place you can create a wall gallery?
What I really want to stress is to think out of the box. By doing this and getting a little help from someone else, you’ll have your home set up and enjoying it in no time.