DIY decorating sounds easy, but when it comes to choosing colors for a room, we often, as design expert Jennifer Paganelli says, "default to beige." But the creator of Sis Boom fabrics and author of "Happy Home: Twenty Sewing and Craft Projects to Pretty Up Your Home" has the expert tips to help us defeat our (unhelpful) desires for perfection and invite color into our DIY decorating dreams.
DIY Decorating with Jennifer Paganelli
Oh, that resides in the heart! It didn't come naturally to me. I thought perfection was what was needed to achieve the perfect outcome. Little did I know it was my humanness that attracted people.
My brother gave me the biggest gift 20 years ago. I had severe OCD and anxiety and would move his belongings when he came to spend the night. I just wanted clean spaces and newspapers folded and put away until one day he said, "I don't feel welcome here." I had no idea how my behavior affected others. My agenda was paramount.
I took what he said to heart and have been able to work on letting go. Then a very sloppy big wet dog came to live with us and taught me that dirt stains can always be washed.
I tell you that is what makes a happy home, it's life! Sometimes I get sad when I walk into a decorated home and it looks as though no one has ever lived there because all the matchy-matchyness makes me uncomfortable. I love when homes are more eclectic, more organic and have evolved with things that touch the soul and appear lived in.
What's a common mistake made with DIY decorating, or perhaps a common fear? How do we overcome it?
A couple of things I find with DIY decorating is most people are afraid of color. They love it in my home and they seriously want to live in my home, but they can't do it in their own. So I say, start slow. Do one room with lots of Sis Boom fabrics, and more often than not, the color spills out of that room into another.
When jazzing up a room, what is one of the first things you often add or change?
Wall color is big, and I love one wall to be a chalkboard because it invites silly doodles and interaction, a place where drawing on the walls is encouraged. Then I go to my favorite antique place and look for a piece of furniture on the inexpensive side that I can cover with Sis Boom fabrics to give it personality. The room seems to beg for certain items next. I love to look for older furniture, mostly for its affordability and endurance. I also have some modern pieces and, again, keep those photos close by so that I can see other juxtapositions of the old and new and the harmony this can create.
You're known for color designs that are both vibrant and delicate, two sometimes contrary elements. Any tips for choosing colors for a room when DIY decorating?
I think we are afraid to be judged if things don't coordinate. Try, in your heart of hearts, to find a color you love, and don't default to beige. Then try just one pattern and one colorway. When the time comes, add to that.
Also, pictures, pictures, pictures! I think so much of what designers do in the early years is dream of "As if" and the things they want to have one day in their designs. My home was a manifestation of magazine photos I kept in photo journals from over the years. I flip through them all the time for inspiration. If you prefer, use Pinterest to keep a folder of things you like and love, adding colorful crafts and ideas.
I made mood boards, too, but that may be over the top for some. Eventually the acting "As if" moves into your muscles, and you begin to see the magic of organic design.
Jennifer Paganelli is the author of "Happy Home: Twenty Sewing and Craft Projects to Pretty Up Your Home," published by Chronicle Books.