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How to Decorate: Phase Three, i.e., What Do I Like? [Nov. 24th, 2010|01:00 pm]
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Continuing the How Decorate series (see How To Decorate: Phase One and Phase Two here)....

How To Decorate

When I moved into my first apartment, my mom asked me what I liked. "You're an artist," she said.

I should know, right?

Not being a decorator, I responded with confusion. "What do you mean, what do I like?" After a puzzling conversation filled with terms I didn't recognize, I said, "Er. I like the tables and chairs with little feet on them-?"

She wrinkled her nose and called me "very traditional." But that wasn't it. When I looked at actual photos, I discovered I didn't like those chairs at all. Too fancy. I just don't like straight lines. I like curves.

Most people get overwhelmed and confused when figuring out what styles they like. There are so many options. That's one reason to give yourself time.

And photos. Lots of photos.

How To Decorate: Phase Three, What Do I Like?

Homework (this part is fun--you can take an afternoon with a stack of catalogs, or, if possible, take your time, days, weeks, even months):
1 - Online and in print, order catalogs of furnishings and decorative items. IT DOES NOT MATTER IF THEY'RE LAUGHABLY EXPENSIVE. You're not buying these things but finding your tastes. Window shop! Check out stores that have Things You Like.
2 - Mark the catalogs and/or keep a list of links with comments. Put stars on what you really, really like. Notice what you really, really hate, too.
3 - Write down in those comments what you like about them ("It's kind of Jetson's retro" or "I like the color, it reminds me of fall" or "Looks sturdy, like I can put my feet on it" or "My grandma had one." Lame phrases like "it's pretty" or "I like it" are useless).
4 - After doing this with a several catalogs, stores, websites, take a look at what you've said. What patterns do you find?

Do the words "comfortable" or "sturdy" come up a lot? How about "fun" or "whimsical"? Did you mention grandma's house over and over? In those pictures, do you see similarities? Maybe a lot of black leather sofas and glass tables? Is half of it Asian and half of it country kitchen? Is there a lot of wood? Do things look handmade or antique? Did you like animal pictures? Leopard spots? African stuff? Kites and bright colors?

If it all seems a confusing jumble, you may want a friend to help you spot the patterns. English majors: you're looking for themes. You know how to do this.

Don't worry if they don't all seem to fit together. Everyone has a range of tastes.

Now. Narrow what you wrote down to a few phrases that describe what you want in your place. (This time. Some phrases you might reserve for another place.) For example: "Old fashioned. Country. Handmade-looking. Reminds me of grandma's."

I ended up with: "Asian, wood, looks a little beat up, soft, rounded edges and curved lines, musical instruments, classy cat art, fall colors, (no glass or metal furniture!), brass fixtures."

Sometimes people (usually guys) hit this stage and ... it all looks the same. You just couldn't care less. Try the opposite approach. Point out what you think is ugly. Guys, it might seem a little "frou-frou" to have an opinion about interior design, but bring in that zebra striped couch and, oh, man, what the hell is That?! Suuure you don't care. (If you're resistant to this part, recall phase one: who's going to see this place? Girlfriends? Trust me. What your place looks like has an impact.)

In rare cases, nothing looks ugly either. All right. Write down how you want other people to react and have someone help you. (If you don't expect other humans to ever see your place--until they carry out your body--then never mind. Just do the storage planning and ignore the rest, ha.)

Have you done your homework? Great. Now you have a list of catchphrases to guide you in your shopping. With those phrases and images in mind, what you buy will click together even you make that impulse buy on vacation in Aruba.

Next ... Phase Four: Layout. But first! A Guide: What Are These Styles Called In RL?