Earlier this week I shared Bonnie’s living room transformation. But you don’t need to do big projects to make a big impact in your home. Today’s case study shows that the little things are just as important.
I’ve known Petra for over a year now. She took her first course from me last January and I instantly knew there was a connection. Then she was one of the first in line to join Décorography—a true validation of what I worked so hard to build. It’s been a true joy to help Petra define her decorating style and then more recently help her implement it throughout her home.
I wanted to share Petra’s story with you, because I think it is one we can all relate to.
Your home’s nice, but it’s not quite you…yet.
Petra loves her home. She doesn’t have time for a big makeover, nor does her home need one. Yet, she knows there’s work to be done. She’s continually seeking out ways to make her house feel more like home. She wants to infuse every room with her style and her families personality.
And she’s doing it with small meaningful changes.
So whenever you catch yourself thinking it takes something big to improve your home, think again. Petra shows us that the little things—the finer details—can sometimes make the biggest impact.
Here’s Petra’s version of events:
1. You’re a graduate of Define Your Style. Can you briefly tell us what your style is and how you are showcasing it in your home?
I named my design style “Honest Charm”. For me that means straightforward design and furniture with simple lines combined with happy pops of color that create a welcoming and casual space. I show that in our home with a complimentary color pallet that energizes the space, displaying many family photos and memories, and an overall collected look where every piece has its own story to tell.
2. When you joined Décorography you knew your decorating style, so what was your biggest decorating struggle?
My biggest issue was taking the style that I had developed and executed fairly well in our main living space (the living room/dining room combo) and carrying it over into the other spaces of our home. Several rooms/areas like our stairwell were still feeling pretty bland.
3. What made you decide to join Décorography? What were you looking for?
I decided to join Décorography because the idea of video classes on decorating was really so exciting to me! I was looking for a continued education on decor in general and practical tips for how to better decorate our home.
I also really liked the idea of having my own diary where I could write down my ideas and projects and get feedback from others. For a few years I had admired blogs like Young House Love and School of Decorating. I had thought – wouldn’t it be fun to have a little blog for the transformation of our new home? But the idea of actually having a public blog was very intimidating. The more private community option in Décorography was the perfect fit!
4. Since joining Décorography, you’ve been making small changes throughout your home, like new art at the top of the staircase, painted stair risers, new patterns and color on the pillows in your living room, and re-styled bookshelves. What inspired you to make these tweaks?
The inspiration came from two places I suppose. The first was that I could identify places in my home that I felt did not have our personality or decorating style yet. The second was from the continued awareness and confidence that I could transform these spaces even with just a small amount of work and money. Partly that awareness came from watching the Décorography classes but also by watching other Décorography members transforming their own spaces. Bonnie and her living room transformation is a perfect example of that!
5. Tell me more about your staircase. What bothered you about the space before?
Our staircase felt very boring and flat to me yet it plays a central role in our home not only connecting the two floors but it is also very visible from the entry landing upon first entry into the house. Every time I went up or down the stairs I felt it. There was nothing wrong with it specifically – it just did not feel like a happy space. Plus, I really dislike the light fixture hanging above the stairwell and it was the only thing I saw in the space.
7. During all these changes how has the Décorography community helped you?
I knew I could do something interesting in the space and put a call for ideas out to the Décorography community. I first thought about putting some wall art on the long wall but one of the Décorography members gave me an idea to treat the stair risers decoratively themselves. It was actually something that my husband and I had originally thought of when we first moved in but that we had completely forgotten about. While I was trying to decide what to do exactly, I was able to post mock ups of the finished staircase for Décorography member comment and feedback. That was incredibly helpful to me in determining my plan.
6. How did you decide what to hang at the top of the stairs?
Once I had the stair risers painted, there was a slightly different problem of this line of pretty color drawing your eye up the staircase to a blank wall. The stair risers were like a promise of reward at the top that was just a let down with the blank wall. I knew I needed something there but it took the inspiration from the Home Happy e-book that Jackie made available to Décorography. The chapter on personalization made me realize that I was completely missing out on a big point of personalization for our family.
When I was mulling this all over, I wrote Jackie this:
Hawaii is a very special place for our family – we were married there and typically go at least once a year for family reunions and vacations etc. But besides several family photos that were taken in Hawaii, we really do not have many artifacts related to Hawaii in our house. Despite our love of Hawaii, I really do not like the traditional tiki decor for our home at all. Wow – this seemed like a big opportunity for something but what could I do since I do not like that typical tropical decor? What about a vintage travel poster with the 50s-60s illustration qualities that I love? YES!!!! My husband is totally on board with the Hawaii poster at the top of the stairs.
From that realization along with a few quick internet searches for vintage Hawaii travel posters – the solution magically presented itself. Once I got it up on the wall, it was just so perfect for the space but more than that, it was perfect for our family.
7. Was there a time during any of these projects where you second-guessed yourself or someone else second-guessed your plan? Tell us about it and how you got the help or assurance you needed to move forward.
For sure! It took several iterations on the idea for the stair risers to find the right solution. Would I use fabric or paint? How many paint colors would I use? How bright should I go etc? Part of the reassurance came from the other Décorography members giving me their feedback on the mock ups I put together. Also, my husband was very on-board with the idea of painting the steps which helped!
8. What’s your process like when you come up with a new idea for your home? Who do you tell, how do you solidify your plan, how do you keep up the project momentum?
Usually my process starts with a feeling that a certain area of our home just doesn’t have our personality in it. So the idea starts as an identification of a trouble spot. Then I kind of wait for inspiration to hit me! But part of finding inspiration is to expose myself to different design ideas. Like the stairwell art, one of the inspirations was Makely School for Girls blog Mary Blair inspired walls. Three things coalesced in one moment – the problem, a really cool inspiration of something bold in someone else’s home, and the ideas provoked by Jackie’s e-book.
Once I have decided on my plan, I tell my husband. And if the plan involves fabric, he will veto it and I will have to figure our how else to accomplish what I want some other way! Haha! There is a long running joke now that my husband is anti-fabric. It is as odd as it sounds yet very true!
It has also been very helpful for me to be able to tell the Décorography community about my project plans. The accountability of Décorography has really helped me execute my plans and stay on track. Once I tell everyone my dilemma or idea, I am really excited to do the project and show off my hard work! Our current project – making our own headboard for our cal king bed, is a perfect example of that accountability in action. Honestly, if I had not talked about our master bedroom and how to best solve its decor issues on Décorography we would not be nearing a great solution (cross fingers)!
9. How much time do you spend decorating? How do you justify that time when you have a husband, kids, and you’re working?
I really don’t spend that much time decorating. It comes in bursts of activity for me. I might get one project done every month or every other month. I like to focus on bite sized pieces that are achievable. Something where I can clearly see the benefit and end point and it won’t take too long to get there. Mostly I do the decorating myself but on some projects, I involve my husband and my son. The headboard that we are building now certainly took my husbands help! My son was also excited to help with the drill and holding the screws etc. So when appropriate, I make decorating a family affair – then it is not time away from your family but suddenly quality time with them.
10. What are three of you favorite features of Décorography and how do they help you in your home?
My three favorite things about Décorography are 1- the classes!!!!!, 2 – the camaraderie and encouragement of the other Décorography members, and 3 -the community, the ability to write down and explain what I have done and why.
How charming is that staircase? Petra shows us all that even little changes can have a big impact. Not only did she add some fun color to what she described as a bland area in her home, but she also took the opportunity to personalize the space. The semi-DIY Hawaii art was inexpensive, but the memories it triggers for her family are invaluable.
P.S. Need decorating help? Check out the full details of the Décorography program here.
Petra, you know I loved your creative staircase from day one. Now that I know about your connection with Hawaii, I can see how important and perfect that art is to you. By injecting your personal taste in a house, you make it your home.
Jenni Ahokas says
Petra, I LOVE your refreshed staircase with the poster! It really shows your style and love for personal touches in your home. From the start of SoD you have been an important part of the group of members. Your comments are always encouraging and positive!
I´m glad Jackie that you created SoD, it is a wonderful decor community!