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Where It All Began
For years I've helped friends and family create visions for their spaces, shop for the right pieces and bring the final product to life. My first “official” client was my dear friend Suzi who’d recently started over and had a nearly empty apartment. It’s a quiet and cozy complex in one of Houston’s most sought-after neighborhoods, and the perfect place for a fresh start. She felt daunted by the idea of decorating such a blank canvas so she called on me for help.
We started in her living room. She had a simple love seat, a few old throw pillows and one tiny lamp. What she wanted was a colorful, whimsical and “just grown up enough” space that felt welcoming and like home.
Finding Our Inspiration
Suzi had purchased a colorful rug that she loved so we used it as our inspiration and starting point. With a tight budget I knew it was important to make the most of everything she already owned, after which we made a shopping list based on priority.
After a quick tour around her apartment peeking in boxes and pulling items from other rooms, I tackled her existing bookshelf. It's one of the most significant elements in her living room and therefore important to address. Plus, I absolutely love bookshelves as they offer endless opportunities to set the stage for a space. Not to mention providing a place to display those miscellaneous pieces we all have and love, but aren't substantial enough to stand on their own. Unfortunately I didn't think to take a before photo. However, the end result was a cozy, layered look that turned this inexpensive bookshelf into an awesome miniature library. It still might be my favorite thing in her home.
Next, we made our shopping list. She desperately needed more light in the living room so that was our number one priority. I've never understood apartments without an overhead light in the living spaces, and yet there are so many around town. With huge blank walls and not much furniture we were also on a mission to find wall décor to make the space feel more finished. The next priority was her kitchen. It’s a small and mostly white space that just needed some color. We took a long list of measurements and went shopping.
Searching for the Right Pieces
Kirkland’s has become a go-to for tons of people looking for inexpensive ways to decorate their homes. This also happens to be where Suzi had previously purchased her rug. Here in Houston, we have a massive Kirkland’s outlet. Like many outlet stores it’s probably not the best place if you’re looking for something specific, but for our mission it was just right.
For the kitchen we found a few vases and a decorative plate to add some height and color above the fridge. She chose some metal artwork for go behind the sink which is a perfect fit as you don’t have to worry about water damage. A bright candle next to the sink added one last pop of color to her cute her little kitchen.
After a visit to Home Depot, Target and a non-outlet Kirkland’s, we were also armed with curtains, a few plants, a new throw blanket, two floor lamps and a couple pieces of wall art.
The new living room set up completely transformed her space. I couldn’t believe how long she’d been living in the dark! She later found and fell in love with these cute owl throw pillows and added them to the mix. We wanted to take advantage of the light from the new lamps and she loved the shape of these little mirrors. By placing them around the TV directly opposite the new lamps they reflect both the light and the new artwork. Lastly, we hung these simple curtains around her huge sliding patio doors and her apartment feels like a completely new space.
Shop the artwork here: "In the Middle of a Forest Canvas"
Visit amazon to grab these "Owl Wise Pillows"
This exact mirror set is no longer available but Wayfair has a very similar one available here.
I chose to share this project as my very first blog post because it’s the whole reason Emily Kelley Designs exists. Not only was the transformation major, given the minor changes, but sharing the experience with Suzi was a joyful and rewarding experience. As I talked her through my mental process and reasoning, and guided her to make the decisions and pick out pieces that spoke to her, I found my passion. Sure, I could’ve done the whole thing on my own, come up with my own vision, picked the pieces that I thought were best. But it’s not my home, and a home should reflect those that live there. I firmly believe that a good decorator/designer leaves no evidence that they were there. It was incredibly important to me that the final product felt like Suzi, and not Emily. The fact that she could take pride in the result, knowing that truthfully she's the one that made it all happen, only excited me further. I just provided guidance and helped her find the confidence to make the decisions and find her own vision.
And thus, my mission was born. Not to create picture perfect spaces worthy of design magazines, but to create spaces perfect for my clients, spaces worthy of real life and their most precious moments.