WORDS BY BRIE HAYES
Decorating a room can be a daunting task, but it shouldn’t be. I recently finished styling our sunroom. It’s a room where our family spends a lot of time hanging out, reading and, to be honest, checking our phones. But it had become cluttered and it was no longer an inviting space. The first question to ask yourself is, “What is the purpose of this room?” Is it a place for relaxing while binge-watching Netflix? A study hall for kids and school projects? Once you have determined the room’s purpose, ask yourself, “What do I want to highlight?” The answer is almost always the room’s best feature. In the case of the sunroom it was the peaceful view of our shaded yard.
The best advice I always give is to start with an inspiration piece. It can be a photo of a room from Pinterest, a painting you’ve always loved, or even a swatch of fabric. This inspiration piece should determine the color palette and define the mood of the room. For the sunroom, I found a magazine image of a beautiful conservatory. Once you have determined what your “look” is, it becomes much easier to shop. When you are considering a purchase, ask “Does it fit the mood I am creating for this room?” If it doesn’t, put it back. For this sunroom, I knew I wanted to create a worldly vibe with comfortable seating, lots of texture, and plants everywhere.
I found the perfect starting point in a striped, slipcovered armchair in the clearance section at IKEA. It was a floor model and a fantastic deal for a cozy chair with classic lines. The bonus was a washable slipcover which is always a great idea when you have kids and pets. I purchased a second chair at full price to make a set; when you find a chair or lamp you like, purchase two because they almost always look better in pairs.
Once you have a comfortable place to sit, you need somewhere to put down your book or coffee (or phone). So, for this room, I looked for end tables and a coffee table with long, thin legs that wouldn’t take up too much visual weight. And you don’t have to buy everything new. One of my favorite ideas is to shop your own house. If you only bring things you truly love in to your home, you’ll be surprised how often they can work in many different rooms. This room was large enough that I could fit an old table I had refinished in the corner- perfect for puzzles or homework projects. A couple of rattan chairs pushed up to the table add texture and also create extra seating, as they can easily be moved around the room. A few plant stands and a bookcase I borrowed from the home office rounded out the furniture for the room.
I knew this room would be getting a lot of traffic from the backyard, so I used a small seagrass mat for wiping feet at the door. Seagrass is like Snapchat- everything disappears after a few moments! For the floor, I found a durable wool rug with enough subtle color and pattern to disguise all of the red clay and dirt that was sure to wander in on paws and shoes. Then I had to consider lighting because even with a room of windows, you have to plan for cloudy days and night time. To bounce around more light on the windowless wall, I added molding to two long mirrors to mimic windows. Mirrors should always reflect something pretty. Hanging the mirrors to flank the doors also creates symmetry, which is always pleasing to the eye. I found some light fixtures that would create a warm glow and enable reading or games at night.
Finally, it was time to choose a paint color. So often people want to pick paint first, but that should rank so much farther down on your ‘to do’ list! Find your rug, your furniture, and your fabrics first. There are literally millions of shades of paint colors and it is far easier to find paint that will work with the undertones of your furniture and fabrics than to have to decorate around a paint color you chose when the room was almost empty! In this room, I wanted the walls to melt into the background so I picked a lovely pale taupe. I painted the fifth wall, the ceiling, a dusky blue, to bring the color of the sky indoors and tie in with the palette of the rest of the house. I always finish a room with some meaningful accessories that inject personality into the room. In this case, it was some equestrian art, favorite books and pictures, along with a jungle full of botanicals. You should surround yourself with the things you love so that the room feels like you. The end result is a room where everyone wants to hang out, even when the sun is down. With the right plan, you can decorate every room in your home!
Brie Hays is a certified Interior Designer and True Color Expert. She is available for design work and paint consultations through Harlow Hays Design Co. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram for decorating tips, or check out www.harlowhaysdesign.com