Setting Up a New Home, First Home, or a Blank Space

Mama Daughter along the Pacific Coast Highway

I’m back from my two week “work vacation” in California!  It was a wonderful time with my daughter and I call it a work vacation because she needed me out there to help her set up her first home (which meant a lot of grunt work taking out cabinets, painting furniture, and so on), but also so we could spend some mama-daughter time touring where she will now call home for the next few years.   I posted pics of our adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

From Bare Bones to Foundation.

That was my goal in helping my daughter, Ashley, by going from a bare bones space to a good working foundation to help her continue forward. The initial enthusiasm and instinct is to try to buy as much as possible and fill the space as much as budget (or credit cards…be careful here) will allow.  But, with only a couple weeks of my visit (and that split with travel), we had to be expeditious and budget-conscious with our set up and purchasing.  We were able to obtain a few basic foundational pieces that would be the start. The rest will come over time…she has a great aesthetic and idea of what she wants.  My biggest guidance to her and anyone is:

1.  DO Buy on a budget but buying a little more than budget allows on some things and less on others. The flooring and sofa is a good example of buying as much as you can afford, a trendy side table, art or a lamp can be less.  She immediately tore out the carpet and installed a laminate floating wood floor (perfect for pools and dogs).  It changed the space dramatically by that one basic, fundamental element.  

Sectional Sofa from Ikea.

Her sofa in the “cozy room” as she calls it (the room nearest the kitchen) is a sectional that took years hours to assemble but is a great choice for the space and the kids dogs.  We simply had to add a few more elements to the space to create a functional room to use and entertain in, and to make her feel like it was a home and not a dorm.

2.  DON’T Fight the architecture or style.  Sometimes, it’s just too expensive to architecturally change, add or remove certain elements of a home.  Her home has good bones and she likes most things about it. We decided to work with the adobe style fireplace in her “cozy room” that we actually quite like, and add to the style by working with that and her Santa Fe/Navajo style rug.  She wanted a Navajo/adobe/woodsy/earthy room and the fireplace was a great foundation to work with.  So, that got us going in that direction and all it took was a couple inspirations to cement the design style of the space.  The fireplace, and this amazing find.  An antique Spanish-style pine chest.  This was our fave find.  It helped with the direction of lighting (see the iron lamp) and worked with the live-edge coffee table that we bought from a local artisan, and the leather butterfly chair found on FB Marketplace.

Antique Spanish-style pine chest with original metal hardware.

3. DON’T Buy everything now and start with a foundation.  Make your home tell a story by collecting things along the way to fill in the gaps.  Buy the basics like sofa and tables now with perhaps a rug or a piece of art that will help set the foundation for the continuing additions to your spaces.  Add the fillers like extra chairs, storage, bling as time, budget and finding allow.  The “home tells your story” part comes as you collect things along the way like art from that cute little store on your latest trip, or receive a special gift, find that “just right” pillow.  In trying to add textile and color (and a deposit on the “fun, blingy” decor) to her cozy room, we found this Johny Was pillow that coordinates with her rug and “theme”, and a future soon-to-be purchased Pendleton Navajo-inspired throw.  (Remember, pace yourself in the acquisitions).  There’s plenty to be found.

Johnny Was pillow.

4.  DO Personalize!  Bring your style and collections from your hobbies, travels and interests into your home. Repurpose a hand-me down like this hutch Ashley was given by us that was from her great-grandmother.  We updated it to fit in with her color palette and taste to fit in her “boho sunroom” and will be her bar hutch.

This 1920s Maple Hutch belonged to her great-grandmother.We updated it by painting in Paint Couture Modern Rattan and Light Brown Sugar glaze and cleaned the hardware. Gold gilding will be added later to give it a blingy look to work with her boho style in the space.

Avoid shopping at ONE time, ONE store, and ONE style en masse.  Ashley loves photography, travel, reading/books (ALOT), boho, mountains, woodsy, outdoors, and so much more.  Which brings me to number 5.

5.  DO Balance and Repeat.  Liking a lot of things, a lot of colors, a lot of styles can complicate and fuss a space.  I am a fan of the 60-30-10 rule for colors and balance (like the bar-hutch being painted to work with the coffee table), repeating (such as the wood and brass) and also incorporating the things you love.  I think “theme” rooms can be fine especially since collections from around the world can be hard to blend.  Ashley has a very girly aesthetic from dressing in Free People dresses to decking out in mountain-climbing gear and loving the outdoors.

So in trying to balance the yin-yang of her likes, we incorporated repeating colors and textures.  Wood is found in both living spaces, greens and blues, browns and yellows.

Her boho “sunroom” with a green velvet sofa, boho inspired woody coffee table, green multi-colored rug, brass floor lamp, brass side tables, modern rattan colored “bar hutch” to start.

The adobe-Navajo inspired “woodsy” living area with Spanish pine chest, live edge coffee table, sectional sofa, iron lamp, leather butterfly side chair.

6.  DO Shop around and have patience.  We found things like the chest, leather butterfly chair, artisan-made live-edge coffee table on Facebook Marketplace.  These take time to search, drive, pick up, etc.  Have patience.  Accessories like the gold side tables and a few other goodies were found visiting local antique/vintage and boutique shops.  Ikea for her sectional sofa, World Market for her green velvet boho sofa, coffee table, floor lamp.  Consider supporting your local small shops (like our Rust and Refind Artisan Market)….we even have some interior designers to help steer you in the right direction to help you stay on task and budget.  Patience finds better prices, but know if it’s a unique hard-to-find must-have item, too!  That one little thing can set the space and make you tremendously happy.  Did I say Johnny Was pillow?

With the initial shopping and round one of design complete, a few DIY (painted some trim, took out the upper cabinets over her island/sink to create an open look and update the space),

Before upper cabinets were removed.

After the uppers were removed. Much more open and updated space.

and some landscaping 101, she is well on her path to being a happy, if not tired homeowner. She has a lot of homework and a “list” to start working with.  Framing art, items on her list that she needs and is looking for, painting, and back to the list.  She is figuring out why I say “You don’t own a house, it owns you” . But, it’s a happy debt I think she’s enjoying. For now.  Until those next round of weeds come in.  :o) But, that’s what the pool is for…a happy dip at the end of a long, hard day.

Until Next Time, Smile and Make Life Fun!  Come see us at the  Rust and Refind Artisan Market.  Brenda





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *