Since the start of January, I’ve been taking you on a journey of ‘resetting your home‘ for the new year. I’ve covered unearthing your Primary and Secondary Soul Styles, your Soul Style Combination and Aesthetic versus Lifestyle. So now, what to do with all this? Let’s start with understanding the ‘Classic Timeless Base’.
In past posts, I covered the distinctions between the things you love in your home, versus the things that can now be moved out. Sometimes this creates a clearing where ‘something new’ can happen. Other times, that ‘new thing’ needs to happen. In general, I find projects that ‘need to happen’ fall somewhere within two categories. For example:
1) Sizeable and open projects – A client has a new job and has relocated the entire family. They bought a big house, left all their furniture behind and are ready for a big Nashville adventure.
2) Unpredictable design challenge – Such as a client who made plans for a new a couch but her father suddenly landed in the living room with his hospital bed. While this may not be a good time, and it seems crazy to hire a designer to pick out a couch, they’re going crazy and have got to do ‘something!’
Either way, the clients are flooded with questions about how to start, and what to actually do.
My methods for getting to bottom of it is the same in all case. We establish the building blocks first and then move forward with layers. This is the most important thing to know to get a project off the ground and staying on track. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small project. The process is always the same.
A Building Block…
A building block is a basic, foundational component. In a living room, for instance, this is a sofa and two chairs or sectional and an ottoman – Everything else is a layer.
Once you decide whether you need a sofa and two chairs or two sofas flanking that ratty old fireplace, other things start to fall into place. Think about it. Can you possibly figure out how big your coffee table should be, or even whether it should be an ottoman that doubles as seating until you figure out how you want people to sit in the room? So what’s the key to establishing your building blocks in any type of room? Functionality. Remember, in a Soulful Home, the functionality of your room is defined by your lifestyle –your lifestyle.
A layer, by contrast, is an element in the room which starts to show up once you define and begin to select those building blocks.
Layers may or may not be suffused with functionality, but more and more they bring in the aesthetic that one needs to make the room complete. Layers are things like wall paint colors, throw pillows, rugs, and accessories.
There is no hard and fast rule about what’s a building block and what’s a layer. The same item in different places can be a building block or a layer.
Layers can be achieved over time, especially the most truly ‘aesthetic’ of them (wallpaper, dress curtains, artwork). My clients love this. It allows them to take a deep breath knowing they don’t have to know everything right away.
It’s not unusual for me to hear… “We thought that lamp was going to work, but when we got the table, the lamp, and the sofa, we realized it needed to be higher, so we really wish we’d gotten a floor lamp, or even swagged something over from the ceiling.” When something this comes up, my clients are surprised to hear me say, “Why don’t we wait on it?…Let us allow the room come together, and then the lamp will speak.” It always pays off. This two-part process (after identifying your Soul Style) takes the pressure pain out of that.
Even more, in a Soulful Home, by waiting to tackle a layer, such as dress curtains, and then perhaps the selection of a vintage Oushak rug, you give yourself time to be truly ready for something far more creative and exciting to unfold. And it will be something that takes the room to a whole new level. Through that paced process, you’ll give it a color or a twist that is so unexpected. You’ll allow that wow factor to come in and surprise you. And you may also find yourself ready to make that decision about that “trendy wallpaper” that you were afraid was going to ‘date itself.’
Through this process, you’ll find that you won’t need to lean on a designer to tell you if a certain wallpaper is right for you. You will know. For what every designer and stylist of any sort knows is that trends are for you to play with, not to be defined by.
From here on out, I’m going to dedicate alternating posts to “what is a building block” and “what is a layer.” I’ll also offer my designer-vetted recommendations on where to find these things, what to look for and what’s new or trending. As you follow along, hopefully, you will get more and more grounded in your own Soul Style.
Next up in our Soulful Home Blog Series: Building Blocks: Living Room Furniture