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First Make a List

...a wish list that is! Staying focused is one of the hardest things for me when I walk into an estate sale, an antique mall/shop, auction house or a home décor store (brick and mortar or online). I get so confused looking at all the pretty things. Here's a fun way to stay on target at those places that are brimming with things you love. Develop an inventory. Sit for a few minutes in each room in your home. Take a look around. If money were no object, what would you do? What pieces of furniture would you replace? What new art and accessories would you invest in? Is there lighting that you would love to change out? Making a list of those items will help you stay focused. I've found that if I'm looking for one or two particular things, I do much better. I've had to develop a set of tools over the years that help me stay on track and on budget. They might be helpful for you.

Some time in January - usually about the same time I'm thinking about resolutions and projects for the new year - I sit in each room in my home, take a careful look around, and document what I want/need to replace, change or add in that room. Our homes are our happy places--or they should be. And they should work for your family. Create a space that you love and that is creative, purposeful, and reflective of who you are!

Let Yourself Dream!

Don't just list the stuff you think you can afford. Let yourself dream when you make your list. If there's one thing we've learned from estate sales, it's that you never know when you're going to run across the bargain of a lifetime! Some of the questions I ask myself as I make my list are

  • What's not working from my design perspective (and why)? Have my tastes changed? Did I paint the walls a different color?

  • What's looking old and tired? Is it time to recover the sofa that the cat scratched up or maybe buy a new one? Maybe replace the rug with the ragged corner now that Fido has outgrown his puppy chewing habits?

  • Are there new needs for the space (storage, extra seating, lighting, or maybe an occasional table)?

  • Is the room being used the same way? Do you have a bedroom that belonged to a child that is now at college and would be better suited for a guest room or office?

Don't use random scraps of paper to make your list. You will want a specific place so you can look back each year (or more often) and see what progress you've made. I love being able to scratch items off. I keep my lists in a fun little fabric covered notebook (similar to these) that I keep with me most of the time. My notebook also has paint chips and fabric swatches and design boards that I've created for rooms we've renovated over the years. Have you ever created a design board? Super fun and very useful, but that's a topic for another blog. I also have another bag that stays packed and ready to grab that has larger samples of fabrics I've used throughout my home for pillow covers, draperies, Roman shades, or bed linens. And, of course, I always keep a small retractable tape handy. I found the one in the photo above at an estate sale but they're available at many places including online.

No See Ums

This chest in my foyer is one of the items on my list to replace. It's a good example of a "no see um." Yes, I know those are bugs, but I also have items in my home with that label because they've been around for so long I just stop seeing them. They serve their purpose and unless I make an effort to look through new eyes, I do not see these particular items. We bought this chest a long time ago when we lived in Texas. It was not expensive, and it was the right size for a space we needed to fill at that time in our new home. It functions beautifully still so I know I want to replace it with the same size. This is not a priority for me but its dimensions are duly noted in my list just in case I run across something that I fall in love with--and that is a deal I can't pass up!

So when you are making your list, you will realize there are large things that you want to change and small things. Some things will have a higher priority than other things. It's worth making a note of that. For example, I have a collection of photos in frames on our bedroom chest--a mishmash really of pictures we've collected over the years that have lived in other rooms in other houses. Now they are all together here and I would like the frames to have a similar color and feel. Again, not urgent nor a priority, but I have that idea in the back of my head as I roam through estate sales and antique malls. The dimensions of the frames are also listed in my notebook with a picture in my Photos app on my phone for easy reference. Group your photos into a single album in your phone's Photo app for quick and easy access.

Online Lists

Another "tool" in my kit is using the "Like" function found in various home furniture and décor apps. Chairish is one of my favorites. It's like an online estate sale (well, except they don't do a 50% off day). On Chairish you can search by major categories like furniture, lighting, rugs, outdoor, or you can search by something specific like "Chantilly silver." Then you can browse the results of your search and click the heart on each item you like to save it to your "Favorites" list. You have to register to have your lists saved but it's free. You can see demilune tables and chests pictured in my Favorites list. These are dream items but they give me a better picture in my head of what I'm looking for at estate sales, auctions and our local antique shops. They also provide a cost comparison. And who knows, every once in a while, the Chairish vendors mark items down pretty drastically, plus you always have an option to make an offer. I scored twin china cabinets for our dining room at a great price doing exactly that.

I hope we've given you some new ways to think about your own home and how to make it into a place that gives you great joy. After the experience of this last year, I think we all just want our homes to be a peaceful retreat. What's on your wish list? What are your dreams for the next few months? We would love to hear about them. Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you next week.


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