Thursday, April 9, 2009

Details, Details, Details

Well, we're up to our eye balls in sawdust over at The Jewelbox. We're at about the midway point, just preparing to start the drywall. As soon as there are real walls, I'm going to post some picture, I promise!

This renovation has been a learning experience in honing my design decision making skills. I was thinking the other day about all the renovation projects people always dream about and discuss, but never start. As I sit here, covered in dust, with a materials list a mile long, I understand why many people are too intimidated to even try. It's daunting to look through thousands upon thousands of options for each piece you need. With the sheer mass of the market and the amount of detail that goes into even the smallest project, it's so easy for your design vision to get lost in the shuffle. Designers don't just have an aesthetic vision, they have razor sharp decision making skills. Here are the self taught tips I've learned during this process to hone mine. I like to call them:

Abby's Super-Duper Design Skill Lessons for Novices
(or, how the real people do it)
  • Know your budget for each item. This is so very important. Kitchen: $10,000--is not a budget. Break the room down into a materials list and set a price range for each piece, down to the small details. It will help keep your overall budget on track and you'll know where you've found pieces for less, so you can splurge in other areas. Also, with the major retailers, you can narrow your web search criteria by price. There is no need to torture yourself looking at 15 pages of sinks you can't afford.
  • Everytime you make a final selection, print a picture. That way when you're pressed for time and trying to pick between a few options for a certain material, a quick glance through your pictures will help remind you of the aesthetic you've already got going. Also, take this folder with you on every, single shopping trip. Transparent sleeves and a 3-ring binder work perfectly for this.
  • Clean lines, Clean lines, Clean lines. This is the mantra that I repeat over and over to myself while I'm scrolling through dozen of pages of gaudy, hideous light fixtures and cabinetry. If you're stuck between two options, make this your tie breaker, and go with the piece that has the cleanest lines.
  • Use your Idea Files as your jumping off point. You spend all that time ripping out pictures and saving files anyway, put them to good use. The key is to do some work up front and have them already organized. You don't have time to be sorting through a hundred pictures to find that one bathroom sink you loved from last year's Pottery Barn Catalog. Find an organization system that works for you and use it. Mine are organized by room: Bedroom, Bathroom, Kitchen, etc., with extra files for things like Flower Arrangements, Tablescapes, Lifestyle Inspirations, and a Tidbits folder for all pictures that make me happy but have no other home.
  • Trust your instincts. More of a life lesson than a design pointer, but it's incredibly valuable in honing your taste. You will know (probably nearly instantly) which pieces you truly love and which you don't. Have the faith in yourself to trust that instinct and you'll rarely make a decision you regret down the road (in life or in the living room).


  1. Excellent points-I am looking forward to the reveal. I would love you to stop by Style Redux and leave your list of design inspirations in my Stylish Little Giveaways!

  2. this is such a good list! mind if i repost?

  3. Thanks for the repost, Courtney!