Editor's note: The following article was originally published on Aly Brooks' blog, Entirely Eventful Day. It has been modified and republished here with permission.
The following is a true story, names may have been changes to protect the innocent.
When we bought our house I was 27 years old. I was thrilled to have a house! But what was I possibly going to do with the 4,000 square feet of blank canvas sprawling in front of me, mocking me? It was a brand new spec house, which means the builder's "designer" chose the shade of cream that was on every single wall. The exterior was/is an awesome shade of navy blue, which made me feel a little better. I filled (well, not quite) the main floor of our new ranch-style home with hand-me-down furniture in shades of hunter green and almost-black stained wood furniture.
After about a year of cream and hunter green, I wanted my house to be cute. But I had no clue how to make it cute.
Tip #1: Hire Help!
Truth: we can't all be good at everything. The first thing I did was hire a friend who had a degree from a local business college in interior design to help me. She didn't charge me much at all and she let me ask her millions of questions. "What's a complimentary color?" "Why would you arrange the furniture that way?" "How do you hold a paint brush again?" I watched and I learned. I really wanted to learn. Later she came over and I showed her my downstairs bathroom (still love it) and she said, "You don't need me anymore."
I didn't need her anymore because I follow these tips I'm about to give you ...
Tip #2: Study Up!
When I decided I wanted to get better at decorating I thought about going back to school and getting a degree in interior design. But then I realized that, um, I already have two Bachelor degrees and three kids. That was a no-go. So instead I found used interior design text books online and read them. I skipped the boring parts. Now when I look at rooms on Pinterest, I do more than admire them, I study their elements, I notice what makes them work, and I think about how to replicate them.
Tip #3: Choose a Theme
At first my husband and I couldn't decide on ANYTHING. The designer I had hired suggested that we each, separately, tear out photos from magazines. We did and we compared them, with her help as the mediator. It was miraculous! We actually found something we agreed on. We were able to find a similar theme in the rooms that we both loved. We ended up deciding on, what I like to call, Romantic Beach House. This exercise was so invaluable. Now when I decorate, I just stick to our theme and everyone is happy. Plus I don't have an identity crisis every time I go to TJ Maxx because I'm sure of my style and if an item doesn't work with it, then I don't buy it. Easy!
Don't be afraid to ask questions and learn from those who know. People love it when you tell them they are great at something. So flatter them ... then pick their brain.
Tip #5: Get the Right Tools
So important! When choosing paint colors, don't grab a hand full of paint samples at the hardware store. Invest in a color fan from a professional paint store. It's so much more effective to choose paint when you can see all the choices. And so often the color you think you want isn't the right color for your room after all!
Tip #6: It'll Come
I played volleyball. I started when I was about 12. Now, I'm tall, 5'11." At 12, I was about 5'9." I was skinny. And, let's be nice to me and say, lacking in coordination. But the volleyball coach wanted my height and was willing to train me to play. I have no idea how many times that man said to me, "It'll come." Every time I hit the ball in the net, he was there to tell me, "It'll come." Know what, it did come. Turns out, I was a really good volleyball player after all. It look a lot of practice and a lot of trial and error. The same is true for learning to do anything, even decorating. It's hard to learn anything new. But anything can be learned!
Aly is mom to three adorable littles and wife to the man of her dreams. She holds a degree from Brigham Young University in Marriage, Family and Human Development. Her kids and her husband are her true love but she is also passionate about interior design, fitness, writing, and social media. Aly works as a social media consultant for several large companies as well as her own small company that she started with her sister, My Sister's Tee. Her goal is to never stop learning and improving and she loves to inspire others to do the same.