First of all, and I know I am a train or two behind, Happy New Year to you all. Getting back into the swing of things has been quite the challenge this week so you'll excuse me if it's taken me five days to send you my good wishes for 2017...
I also want to thank you for all your support on Stella + the Stars in 2016, it's been a roller-coaster of a year indeed (in a very good way!) and I can't actually compute everything that's happened in the past 12 months: we are talking relocating to the Middle East after 12 years in London, settling into a new expat life across the world, winning an award for my little blog, seeing my daughter starting pre-school and loving it, relaunching my home styling business in Dubai (and start working with my first clients here!) and that was just for the second part of 2016... It's not been all plain sailing though, and as you can imagine, there's been tears and tantrums (LOTS of them, from me, mainly) and a ridiculously high amount of 'WTF have we done?!' moments. Self-confidence levels have at times been at their lowest while anxiety levels took over my life, but now looking back at the past few months, I am finally, FINALLY, able to feel a tiny bit smug at what I have achieved in 2016. I won't go all cringe on you with the dreaded hashtag blessed and grateful but we are borderline, people...
Enough of me though, this post is about you, my gorgeous readers, and your lovely homes. I thought I'd start the year with a little lesson on 'there are no right or wrong in home styling' and 'trust your gut' to get you to make your pad your happy place over the next few months. The majority of expats (me included) are not home owners and rent out their pad here and this can bring a whole world of limitations (click here for my tips on how to turn your rental into a home) but it doesn't mean you have to give up on having your dream home. So forget about resolutions - it's sooo 2014 - and instead here are a few 'do's and don't', easy tips, my two cents' worth essentially, on how to pluck up the courage to transform your home (even if it's not yours!) in 2017. In the next few weeks, I will post more blogs about how and where to find the cool stuff to make it a reality.
Don't be scared of mixing it up
Whether you're a boho-world traveller, a hopeless romantic, a scandi-fanatic, a maximalist, or your home style is more on the modern glam side of the design spectrum (if you are not sure, you should take the design personality test from Apartment Therapy here!), this doesn't mean you have to stay in your box... Home decorating is not about following the rules but more about breaking them. I got a bout of the old design schizophrenia after moving into our new Dubai pad but in the end, I embraced it, and feeling a bit lost has made me experiment different styles I wouldn't have dreamed of going for, back in London.
Make a list
I know, basic, but bear with me. Make a list with two columns. One with the things you love about your pad (for example, brightness, space, south facing, layout etc) , and one with the stuff you don't like or even hate (flooring, wall colours, lighting etc.) - can you tell I have done that with mine?!?! The 'like' column is just to make you feel better about the other column. The 'hate' column is your to-do list and where to start. You probably won't be able to 'fix' every bullet point but even dealing with one or two will transform your space. We changed every single light and chandelier when we moved in, which totally changed the look of each room.
This is the bit that takes the longest but is the most effective at making your house an actual home. I am working with a bunch of lovely clients at the moment and two of them are creating a wall gallery of personal and family pictures. This is such a lovely thing to add to a room (family room or living area for example) as it just instantly adds personality. Striking artwork is another brilliant way to character even to the most dull room.
Well, not really, I am exaggerating here, I am French after all, but sometimes you really need to give the Pinterest boards a break. I am as addicted to it as the next interiors aficionado trust me, and use it constantly both for my work and my personal use. But Pinterest is a double edged sword. It gives you access to a limitless source of inspiration from magazines, real homes and it's a brilliant tool to help you find out the good stuff or even give you ideas you never knew existed. However, it can sometimes be overwhelming and often the stuff you see in the pictures are not real rooms, but vignettes styled to an inch of themselves that are photographed by pros and can make you thing everything looks amazing even when in broad daylight, well, it might not. I tend to love most of the stuff I see on Pinterest, but I have to remind myself that a good photographer and a good stylist could pretty much convince me to paint my house red and kit it out in vintage furniture if they wanted to (I don't like red, and I am not a fan of vintage furniture in case you hadn't gathered...)
Go. For. It.
And finally, just go for it, take a leap, buy the rug, paint the wall, just listen to your gut and let yourself go. What's the worst that could happen? You don't like the result? Hardly life or death situation, non? I don't always get it right the first time and my life hasn't depended on it. There is no home decor 'police' that will raid your home at night and arrest you for having mixed a mid-century modern table with plastic chairs or fine you for adding a pink rug in an otherwise neutral room. It's your home, your rules.