Play with Your Home | Stone Cottage Home

Many of us who have a lifelong interest in this wonderful world of interior design start by “playing house.” Or we play imaginary roles like mom and dad with siblings or friends, or perhaps we take our imaginations to our dollhouse. This was my case. I loved the dollhouse that my Dad built for me. My aunt and grandmother helped decorate and furnish it. It is two and a half stories high and features shaggy rugs, crochet rugs, floral curtains, a clawfoot bathtub and a cast iron stove. Many, many hours were spent arranging and rearranging the furniture.

When I was a kid, I might have put the bathtub in the kitchen and the stove in the bathroom. The beds alternated continuously between the bedroom and the spacious attic with cozy sloping ceilings. I remember thinking it would be magical to sleep in an attic with sloping ceilings.

Over time, the arrangements made more sense with kitchen items staying in the kitchen, etc, but the reorganization continued… Did the table work better in the middle of the kitchen or against the wall? While this kind of freedom to try things in unexpected ways made for some “interesting” room arrangements at first, I’m sure there were one or two setups that were creative solutions for the doll family!

Here is the same wing in two different rooms and decorated with different pillows and blankets. It’s fun to see how the chair can adapt to two different vibes! One look is more masculine and “comfortable” English looking, while the second look is more feminine with Victorian country leanings.

In some ways, as we reach adulthood and get our first home, that freedom to change things can get a little lost. It could be the voices of others in our head or our own voice saying: “That’s not a dining room,” or “I’ve never seen a layout like this…” “The couch has to face the fireplace…”

We rented the first four years in our current house. If he has been a tenant, he knows the limitations of what he can do to make a place “his.” Once we bought the house, it took a while for this mentality to go away. After all, we had been renting for 6 years at that point! As this mentality went away and we took possession of our house, we started trying things. Looking back now, I laugh at how shy we could be to try something.

Have you ever felt that hesitation? “I’m not sure where or how to hang the art, so I’ll wait for it.” Then you end up with piles of artwork leaning on the wall behind the couch. But, friend, if the nail hole is in the wrong place, the putty dries in three minutes. Try again! Then there is the paint color. And wallpaper. Don’t be afraid of these things, they are tremendous fun!

Now that we’ve owned our home for six years and have tried many DIY projects (both small and large), here’s what I came up with: Swap your rooms, play with your furniture, mix up your decor.

Exchange your rooms. Whether you’re renting or owning a home, those rooms are where you live every day – use them however best suits you and your family! Think of your home as a laboratory and experiment with its uses. Just because the floor plan labeled a room as a dining room doesn’t mean you have to use it that way! It could be a home office, school/craft room, or a fabulous second living room with library. Also, just because a room has always been one thing doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Use your home in the way that works best for your family. Those needs will change over time, and the best homes change with you.

Play with your furniture. This is so much fun for me! Versatility is value. The more places or ways you can use your furniture, the more valuable it will become. During the time we have owned this house, one of the rooms has been an office, a guest room, an office again, and now a bedroom again. The buffet that Matt’s mom gave us has been in the entryway serving as a hallway tree, in the living room as a place to store board games, and in the dining room as a place to store dishes.

A few months ago I had the idea to try our loveseat as a banquet behind the dining room table. That sounded like a very English and very welcoming country. The scale was wrong so it didn’t work, but it might have been worth a try! Sometimes when trying things out, you come across a new use for a piece of furniture and a domino effect can occur… This is where the fun begins.

Swapping out a larger dresser for a smaller one from another room may mean you now have room for a small chair to sit on and put on your shoes. You may also need to adjust lamps or art to fit this new furniture arrangement. You will get a “new” room with little effort and at no cost! This brings me to my next point, which is:

Mix up your decor. I do this often. Nothing is easier than moving lamps to achieve the best fit and scale in certain locations and adjust the level of ambiance in a space. The size, shape, and color of the lamp base can look completely different in different places in your home. Then there is the lampshade. With the tremendous fun of making my own pleated and patterned lampshades, the options for mixing things up have multiplied!

The larger scale of the blue and white lamp fits the scale of the room and the size of the buffet much better. I’m currently searching Etsy for the perfect fabric to make a lampshade…

Then there is art… I could go on talking about art for a long time. it’s the cherry on top of the frosting for me. Art sets the tone and defines the room like nothing else. When you rearrange furniture and move lamps, you will inevitably need to adjust the artwork.

The simplest artistic advice I could give is about scale. Match the size and shape of your art to the wall where you’ll hang it, and don’t let a small nail hole stop you!

I hope this post has inspired you and even given you permission to play at home. Let me know what areas of your home you’d like to rethink in the comments below!

Happy home cleaning,

Raquel

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