Designing a cohesive, put-together shop with inventory ranging between the time periods of 1850 to 1950 has baffled me since I opened my shop. I’ve read dozens of design books and studied how other shops do this successfully on Pinterest, but short of renting a storage unit where I can accumulate things that go together, I haven’t learned a thing to make it easier.
Then I saw an article about a publisher looking for people to review Apartment Therapy’s new book Complete + Happy Home. The ultra-bog, Apartment Therapy, features apartments designed by thousands of creative renters and home owners using flea market, antique shop furniture and furnishings mixed with new or newer furniture.
I could hardly put this book down. All of the principles can be applied to a shop just as easily as one would apply them to an apartment, split-level, ranch or six-bedroom house. I finally grasped something that has previously eluded me. The approach is to throw out all ideas of what Pottery Barn is selling, what is currently trending and what you know about design. Decorate to make yourself happy. Learn how to use what you have, what is comfortable, easy to clean, maintain and is affordable to you. In other words, don’t choose a painting because it matches the color of your couch. Choose one that you enjoy.
Read every page; don’t just look at the pictures and you will have a new eye and the knowledge to create a comfortable home for yourself, family and friends.
There is too much between the covers of the Complete + Happy Home to mention in a review, but the editors aren’t pulling your leg when they put the word Complete in the title. The sections on creating flow, energy, balance and mood helped me tremendously with arranging the shop.
Apartment Therapy contributors essentially live in rentals so they don’t take out walls and install new windows. That is what I love about this book. The point of the book is to train people how to look at their homes in a new way.
Say you just bought a first home with an old board and batten paneled dining room. The new owner envisions a sleek modern design. Bringing in a vintage 1950s red-painted table with steel hairpin legs and adding black modern upholstered chairs turns the room in a new direction. By changing the overhead light fixture to a pendant style with a pierced metal drum shade the room is transformed from hunting cabin to cozy modern in an afternoon.
For the shop, I learned how to unite multiple patterns by adding one color that unites the room. Do you see how the coral lap robe and a vase of coral-colored flowers unifies the bold mix of patterns? It is all about decorating with things that make you feel good and making the room congenial for anyone who visits. I could easily use this technique in the shop. For example, by adding five green linen pillows to the room, the entire shop looks united with the use of color. Of course, this is easy to do in a small shop like mine, but the idea works for any size room.
The book shines because it is realistic and it trains the reader to really see, just like an artist learns to see. Forget about what the neighbors have, what some marketing department wants you to buy, and get happy with your home.