Life Skills: Deck the Halls
by Sarah Franco ’08
Sarah solo-authored MiddBlog in 2007-2008 from her library thesis carrel. She received her M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University in 2010, and currently serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for the Vice President for Administration (aka Tim Spears) at Middlebury. Read all “Life Skills” posts.
I love to travel, I enjoy nights on the town with friends, and I get outside as often as possible, but ultimately I’m a home body. Coupled with my love of entertaining, it’s important that my living space be welcoming, comfortable, simple, and inspiring. And because I have the artistic skills of a kindergartener (no offense, kindergarteners), home design is one of my few creative outlets.
Life after Middlebury may be the first time that you’ll be responsible for decorating or furnishing an entire apartment or house of your own. Transitioning from your Brooker single–which simultaneously serves as your bedroom, study, living room, pantry, and attic–to a one- or two-bedroom flat will be a relief, but also a challenge. Here are a few principles and ideas to get you started.
It’s Not About Stuff. It’s not about making your home look like a Pottery Barn catalog or accumulating expensive, pretty things or projecting a certain kind of image to impress others. It’s about creating a space that is a reflection of you: what you love, what you value or find meaningful, and what’s comfortable.
What’s Your Style? Modern? Chic? Rustic? Urban? Baroque? Unhappy Hipster? The internet awaits to help you figure that all out. There’s Pinterest to “organize and share the things you love.” There’s also Polyvore for making mood boards–great for those of us who lack Photoshop skills. To give designs a trial run in a computerized, three-dimensional model of your home, try mydeco.
Color! I adore color, but some people are afraid of it. Some basic rules of thumb: Paint large rooms in dark colors to make them feel cozy. Paint small rooms in light colors to make them feel spacious. Warm colors tend to make you hungry, so you may or may not want these in your kitchen or dining room. If you’re a novice painter/color selector, light colors are more forgiving of mistakes and are easier to paint over if you end up hating the result. If you live in an apartment whose landlord has put the kibosh on painting, you can sneak in color with lamp shades, curtains, prints, area rugs, furniture, or even an upholstered headboard.
Design on a Dime Unless your first job out of Middlebury is exceptionally well-paying, it will likely be awhile before you can drop some bank on home furnishings or renovations. Especially if you’re planning to move around a lot, or live with roomates, it may not make sense to spend a lot of money anyway. Enter DIY (those are practically my initials). Make your own curtains, like Anna Warren. Take a cue from Natty by Design and breath new life into old furniture by refinishing it in bold colors (feast your eyes on this cobalt blue dresser). Print and frame some of your own arty photographs and arrange a wall collage. It goes without saying that the internet is filled to the brim with DIY how-to’s, but I especially love make grow gather, Design Sponge, and Young House Love. You’re sure to find projects to meet your budget and skill level. Related note: YHL is really great for homeowners; in addition to small-scale projects, the site offers ideas and instructions for some pretty serious home renovations.