Several BLB projects have gotten off of the ground since Blessed Little Bungalow launched last April, but it all began with this one San Antonio home that is near and dear to my heart.
Two weeks after BlessedLittleBungalow.com went live, I received the following email in my inbox:
I asked for recommendations on the Moms of Leon Springs Facebook page and you were suggested. I want help adding finishing touches to our house. I feel like I have nice things but it's lacking something. Like I'm not utilizing furniture and pieces correctly. And lack of color. Dark furniture with dark wood floors with contractor beige walls. Help!! Look forward to hearing from you.
I was shocked to receive an inquiry for my services so quickly, especially from someone that didn’t know me personally. Even more to my surprise, I couldn’t believe other strangers were recommending me online that didn’t know me personally either! LOL Like, no Yelp reviews, no Google+ page, no current clients. Just a new website, Instagram page and Facebook account. It left me speechless. Michele and I emailed a bit back and forth, naturally hitting it off. Once she returned her design questionnaire sharing the current details and aspirations of her home, she invited me to visit so we could meet and discuss the project in person. Keep in mind, this was my first “stranger client,” so I was a bit nervous, but as soon as she opened her door and greeted me with her warm smile, it just felt right. I couldn’t wait for her to hire me.
Michele and her family relocated from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the beautiful Dominion area of San Antonio, Texas a few years ago. Michele, her husband and young daughter live a very busy life. Between running a dentist office, serving in the United States military, attending ballet classes, selling Girl Scouts cookies and frequent travels, family time is very precious and life doesn’t leave much room for decorating a brand new house. So Michele staged her living space using existing furniture with the goal of adding decor, purchasing new items, painting and filling in the blanks later on. Well, we all know what “later” means. Weeks turned into months and months turned into years. Genuine intent was there, but who has time for taking action? As a busy bee myself, I could completely understand.
Michele’s gorgeous Hill Country style house is filled with beautiful stone and southwestern finishes, a spacious open floor plan and character from the vaulted ceiling to the baseboards. From the photos and my visit, I noticed that the house was virtually spotless and resembled a model home, but as Michele mentioned in her initial email, it just didn’t feel complete. Here’s a look at the living and dining rooms before our consultation:
During my visit, I shared some mood boards and furniture suggestions with Michele to see what she liked and disliked. As I examined her facial expressions (and her daughter’s) throughout my presentation in her breakfast nook, there were more polite “no thanks” than there were gracious nods. LOL Then we arrived to one of my final slides that made her eyes widen followed by an aflame smile. The mood board displayed was filled with rich wine and berry reds, dark wood, turquoise and teal tones. The contrasting color palette clearly made her happy, so I was happy too. We’d found the winner and Michele hired her new designer.
Though elated and eager to get started, there were a few challenges discovered during this project that I think many hoping to refresh their current space or utilize their existing furniture may experience. Here are a few tips that can help you navigate such challenges and ease the stress of making your house a home on a budget:
1. New spaces don’t require all new furniture.
Don’t be tempted to run out to Ashley Furniture or Rooms-to-Go every time you move. It’s a waste of money and that matchy-matchy 7-piece set usually includes more furniture than you actually need. Be up for the challenge of incorporating your existing furniture in the fresh new space. For Michele’s living room, her existing sofa and oversized chair and ottoman meant a lot to her because they were a part of the Albuquerque home her family loved and missed. Though their old house was sold and left behind, this living room furniture traveled 700 miles with them and was here to stay. All the living room needed was a fresh coat of paint to break up the beige convention happening throughout the recent build, a new coffee table centered on the existing floral rug and possibly a sofa or console table to separate the room from the kitchen’s breakfast bar and nook located directly behind the living space. I sent her a few options and here were the winners! We added a few decorative touches to the tables from Hobby Lobby and Marshalls, and the room was complete.
2. Invest in the best. Then DIY the rest.
I’m a firm believer in investing in quality, timeless furniture that will never bore you. Whether you can afford to do that with the entire room or not, use this rule for at least one focal piece in the space. I did that with most of the rooms in BLB, specifically my dining room table. So when Michele shared that she needed a new table for the dining room at the entrance of her home, I knew that would be the piece requiring the biggest investment for the entire project. We considered a few different options from Pottery Barn, Joss & Main, Wayfair and Overstock, but everything was too expensive, too big or not the right style. During one of our shopping trips, Michele showed me a table she loved in a local furniture store, Hemispheres. It sat at the top of her price-range, but with her husband’s blessing, they decided it just belonged in their home. With the new dining room table purchased and a new rug from Wayfair ready to be rolled out, Michele tapped into her artsy side and DIY’d some of the remaining items in the room. She painted both the existing/repurposed dining room chairs belonging to the former table in the space and painted an antique china cabinet a beautiful garnet red in chalk paint. With only one window in the space, we didn’t want to obstruct any natural light coming into the room, so Michele also volunteered her crafty skills to assemble a cornice above the window with new fabric I found in Hobby Lobby. With a few more items added to centerpiece the table and insert in the cabinet, the dining room quickly came together!
3. Mistakes happen. Embrace them.
After committing to the three new red wine walls in the living room, Michele had her heart set on a gold, honey mustard paint color for the dining room. I agreed it would look great and after painting a few samples on the surface, she had her husband paint the entire room a color that she and I would both soon regret. The new honey mustard looked like more of a French’s yellow mustard. Too bright. Too dark. Too awful. I felt terrible about it. How could I let this happen? Aren’t interior designers supposed to prevent such mishaps!? I felt even more guilty given all the hard labor Michele’s husband had already done for us painting walls, assembling furniture (actually Michele did that, but I’m sure he helped), approving color palettes and several purchases. But the color wasn’t pretty. It had to come down, even if I had to come by and do it myself. A weekend or so later, the walls were repainted one of the lighter sample colors and the family was pleased. At the end of the day, it wasn’t the end of the world, and had we not gone with the darker color Michele liked initially, I don’t think she’d like the current color as much with the remainder of the room. So lesson learned! Allow yourself to make “mistakes” because it’s honestly all a part of the process.
4. Sometimes designing is a marathon, not a sprint.
Speaking of process, don’t rush this one! The last thing you want to do in a new space is spend a bunch of money on furniture you’re not ready to commit to. Pace yourself. Get comfortable in the space. Wait for the perfect piece that just feels right. Patience is a virtue and it truly pays off! Michele had waited years for this project to come to fruition; I wasn’t about to rush a 6-week process on her if she really needed 6 months. I think that by taking our time, Michele was able to set indecisiveness and hesitation aside and confidently choose the colors, patterns and pieces that were needed to complete her home. I just love the way Michele’s home looks now, even more so than during my first visit! I honestly can’t take much credit; all of the design elements were already there. Michele just needed assistance figuring out what she liked and how to incorporate new and existing items into the space.
Ready for the reveal? Here’s the final product:
I’m so grateful to now know Michele and her beautiful family, and I’m thankful to have her as a client in San Antonio. #ProjectPressley was a tough project that pushed me outside of my personal style and design comfort zone, but in the end, it became the first success story of my business. Thank you, Michele for giving BLB the opportunity to help you love your new home!
For more photos of #ProjectPressley, check out Pressley Home in my BLB Portfolio.
Coffee table – Joss & Main
Sofa table – Joss & Main
Decorative spheres – Marshalls
Decorative birds – Hemispheres
Candle sticks – Pottery Barn
Chest – Hobby Lobby
Dining table – Hemispheres
Upholstered dining room chairs - Wayfair
Candle sticks – Pottery Barn
Cornice fabric – Hobby Lobby
Dining room rug – Wayfair
Ceramic decor – Hobby Lobby
Photography - Me! with edits by Quture Media