We recently spoke with local interior designer Whitney Jones about how to create a space – even when you’re renting! – that truly feels like home. Jones believes that a beautiful apartment isn’t just attainable; it’s also affordable. How? Three simple letters: D I Y. Check out our conversation with Jones below.
1LP: Your blog features a lot of DIY projects, and it seems like something you’re very passionate about. Why is it so important?
DIY orange vinyl chairs. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)
WJ: In my apartment, I actually pretty much did everything custom, which really can be code for DIY. You don’t want to go into your friend’s house or post a picture online and have someone say, “I have that! And I have that!”
If you try to do custom, you always have a unique space that will get you compliments. When you love décor and love for your home to look good, it feels good for someone to feel welcomed into a really nice space.
1LP: Can you recommend some examples of DIY projects?
WJ: Of course! I have some chairs I purchased at Target for $26 on clearance. They’re metal chairs with gray and teal upholstered fabric – they didn’t match, but I bought them anyway because I knew they had potential. I went to a fabric store and purchased some orange vinyl, and I upholstered both of them in the vinyl [using a staple gun]. They look like a totally custom chair for under $75.
Then, there are my curtains that I purchased from Pier 1. I bought two matching curtains and then a third in a contrasting color and fabric. Then, I used parts of the third curtain to add to the bottom of the matching pair to create a custom look. It also added length, which meant I could suspend them from higher on my ceiling – that’s a great trick to add a feeling of height to a space. I also make pillows and sell them on my website.
I also DIY’d a wood bench I purchased at a flea market. I painted the bench white and recovered with faux fur that I purchased at a fabric store. There are so many different options!
DIY faux fur bench. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)
1LP: What, in your opinion, is the easiest kind of DIY?
WJ: Before you purchase or do anything else, I suggest going with pillows first. They shape your sofa, they can even reinvent your sofa, and they’re your source of inspiration for the rest of the room. If you decide to make DIY pillows, you have hundreds of different selections that inspire you that you can use to have as a jumpstart for the rest of the room. They’re really easy to make – just search for a tutorial whether you prefer to hand sew, use a sewing machine, or even use hot glue!
I also love DIY art because it’s easy and affordable. I have a DIY canvas board with some song lyrics that I painted – really simple.
DIY canvas with song lyrics. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)
1LP: What if someone is feeling stuck once they start decorating? Or maybe they’re too overwhelmed to even get started! What advice do you have?
WJ: ALWAYS PLAN before you do anything. Don’t start buying stuff without a plan. You have to pick something that’s your starting point. If you find something you love or just have to have, make it your jumping point so you can plan your room around it. If you choose art, choose a color out of your artwork that you can use in your pillows; another color can be your curtains; another color can inform your accessories.
My other best piece of advice is to start with the room where you spend the most time. People see pictures of my living room and they think I have it going on. And then you look to the right and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s a disaster over there!’ My dining room functions as my office! I had so much energy to do my living room and then I wasn’t sure if I was ready to start on something else. For me, I started with the room that I spend the most time in; the room that means the most to me. If your bedroom is your sanctuary or if you want to feel more comfortable there, that’s where you should start. If you cook a lot, you should start in the kitchen. Because if you start somewhere where you don’t spend a lot of time, you’ll get burned out fast. You’ll have the energy and the spirit to start in other rooms if you begin a project in a room you enjoy being in the most. It’ll have a domino effect.
1LP: Where are some of your favorite places to find furniture and accessories in New Orleans?
WJ: My favorite place to shop in the city is Target. They’re really trendy – they’re on the mark on what’s hot in decor. I’m not a trendy decorator, per se, but I like to see what they have. If you’re not really good at decorating or don’t know what you like, Target allows you to do it on a budget. Pillows, linens, living chairs, lounge chairs, and all for good quality and price.
Nadeau has really good price points and unique items, so I’d definitely say Nadeau for furniture. TJ Maxx for accessories and Pier 1 for glamorous accessories – they’re pricier but they’re not outrageous, and you can have a really glamorous look for a lot less than you’d expect.
1LP: What are some of your favorite websites for that same purpose?
WJ: Ballard Design – they’re not the most inexpensive but they have beautiful items. I really love Wayfair so there are hundreds of thousands of times so you could shop all day! Sometimes it’s way too much stuff to look through, but in a good way. I like Wayfair for the options. Home Decorators Collection – it’s actually Home Depot’s home line. They don’t tell people that, but it is! They have really good stuff for really great prices.
Find Whitney on Instagram at @whitneyjdecor or visit http://whitneyjdecor.com to connect with this amazing local designer!
It’s a conundrum we’ve seen a lot: renters don’t want to spend a lot of money tricking out their space, but they still want an apartment to feel like home. That’s why we’ve teamed with local interior designer Whitney Jones of Whitney J. Decor to get her expert advice on how to jazz up your apartment smartly and affordably – and with gorgeous results. In the first of our two-part series, we talk the basics of what to buy and how to rethink your approach to decorating. Stay tuned for our next post when we delve into specific DIY projects and the best places in New Orleans (and online) to find decorative accents, furniture, and more.
1st Lake Properties:
Jones, who rents an apartment, recently redid her living room using pops of color and pattern. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)
Obviously, we’re proponents of renting, and we think it’s important that a rented space feels like home. We’ve taken great care to create beautiful landscaping, smart floor plans, and other welcoming details across our properties
– how else can someone make a rental feel like home?
Whitney Jones: First, I always like to say that I think it’s a misconception that we whouldn’t spend money or we shouldn’t invest in home décor just because we rent. I believe that if you can afford to get quality pieces, you should invest in them because those pieces can move with you. Things that require custom fitting – like custom draperies or rugs – are things I wouldn’t suggest for a rented space because you don’t know if they’ll work in a home or in your next apartment, but there are other things you can purchase that can take your space to the next level.
1LP: What are some examples of the types of things renters can purchase that will make a big impact?
WJ: A quality sofa or quality artwork. They are something you should invest in because those pieces can move with you. And pillows! Pillows are a really good way to update a space and make an apartment look totally different without spending too much money.
1LP: Let’s say a renter has $500 they can use to ‘jazz up’ their space. How should they use it?
WJ: I just redecorated my own apartment! I’d say $500 would be a good budget to buy art, new pillows, and also draperies. I think one of the things for apartment renters that we forget altogether is drapery. It can be expensive if you get them custom, but if you purchase ready-made panels from a store like Target or JC Penney, you can really shape a window. Draperies really ground a room.
Jones says art and decorative pillows are an easy and affordable way to change up the look of your space. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)
1LP: Draperies, really? We wouldn’t have guessed that!
WJ: They are a game-changer. As for solid or prints, I think personally, and especially in an apartment, prints are the best way to go. A lot of times you bring in interests by actually putting some pattern on the wall – most apartments come with mini blinds, so putting a plain curtain on top of it doesn’t really add a big effect. Even a colored panel just doesn’t do enough. Bringing in some pattern and texture allows for that big pop and serves as another work of art depending on the kind of curtain you use. It lets you show your personality and brightens things up while having a little bit of fun. Curtains already ground a space, and by having a pattern, it really brings a pop of interest to a small space, which is needed for apartments – sometimes they can all look the same! Curtains are an easy, beautiful way to differentiate yourself stylishly.
You can use complimentary or contrasting colors along with a bold, printed curtain to define your space. (Photo courtesy Whitney Jones)
1LP: Should people consider hiring an interior designer even for a rented space?
WJ: I definitely think that it’s a lot better to work with a designer and decorator even if you rent, because you can save yourself a lot of money and a lot of headaches in the end. You give a designer a budget, and they can have your apartment laid out for you without you having to lift a finger. There’s a really big misconception that we’re super unaffordable but that’s not the case – a lot of designers work in relation to your budget. For me as a designer, anything you should buy should be something you buy to KEEP, and an interior designer can help you find those pieces that’ll move seamlessly with you as you transition from apartment to apartment.
Next week, we pick up the conversation with Whitney about DIY, how to plan for decorating, and how to avoid feeling “stuck” when it comes to revamping your space. Follow her on Instagram at @whitneyjdecor or visit whitneyjdecor.com.
Did our Instagram blog post spark your desire for a picture-perfect home? Spring is a great time of year to freshen up your space through cleaning and redecorating, and you’ll probably want to photograph the results to share on social media (tag us on Facebook and Twitter!). We came across a great article on how to make your home more photogenic and wanted to share these easy home photography styling tips with you.
This nightstand vignette uses books and pops of color to look great on camera. Of course, we love the dog, too! (Photo courtesy Pinterest)
Add fresh flowers.
Fresh flowers – especially during spring, when they’re particularly abundant – are a great detail in a photograph of a room. While full bouquets and arrangements are gorgeous, they aren’t necessary. A simple bloom in a glass jar makes a photo of your nightstand, for example, fresh and visually interesting. Fresh fruit has a similar impact in a kitchen shot – citrus fruits like lemons and limes offer vibrant color while pineapples show off an interesting, architectural shape.
Use a flash of red.
It’s a good thing marsala is the Pantone Color of the Year, because a bit of red instantly attracts the eye and brightens up a photo. Red is psychologically one of the most eye-catching colors – even if it isn’t your favorite color, use it sparingly to add major pop to a photo.
Take advantage of books and magazines.
Stacking books and magazines can add height and depth to photographs. We recommend stacking your books neatly on a coffee table then placing a jar of flowers (red ones!) to incorporate several elements of photography styling into one beautiful shot.
Every room in your house has the potential to emanate peace and tranquility. How? Through the use of feng shui.
Feng shui is based on the idea that our homes are a reflection of what’s going on inside of us. By aligning the outside space with our inner feelings, you create a harmonious home.
This ancient Chinese method may seem a little bizarre on the surface, but feng shui principles are easy to follow and don’t (usually) cost a dime! We’ve culled a few simple ways to incorporate feng shui into your home.
A round coffee table facilitates ease of movement according to feng shui principles. (Photo courtesy Pinterest)
Easy Feng Shui Tips
Keep Toilet Lids Down
This is a good practice from a hygienic perspective, of course, but there’s also a feng shui explanation. Feng shui posits that the toilet is a drain – leave the seat up, and you allow good energy to literally drain out of your home.
Arrange Your Desk to Face the Door
In the feng shui method, having your back to a door puts you in a compromising position. Try arranging your desk so that it faces toward the door – you’ll feel an instant sense of control and empowerment that could show through in your work!
Place Your Couch Against a Wall
This is usually a natural spot for arranging couches, but it also has a feng shui purpose: a wall brings a sense of steadiness and security that can help you relax. If there isn’t a wall available, you can place a sturdy console table behind your couch instead.
Try a Round Coffee Table
Square and rectangular coffee tables have harsh lines that point directly at people when seated. A circular coffee table creates a harmonious flow that lets energy (and people) move around more easily.
Surround Yourself with the Items You Love
We devoted a blog post to this feng shui trick. Choosing items that bring you joy helps eliminate clutter and also amplifies positive energy. Move a favorite item to a prominent spot so you see it every time you walk in the room!
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
In feng shui, mirrors bring good fortune and double the abundance of positive energy. Use them!
Use Shapes to Create Energy Flow
According to Feng Shui, shapes are an important factor in the flow of energy in a room. Triangles, for example, are largely unwelcome as they convey a sense of hostility. Round or square furniture is a better choice, though Feng Shui encourages mixing shapes to avoid an overabundance of a single energy.
Fountains & Fish
If you’re a fan of the life aquatic, Feng Shui may be your ideal decorating method. Feng Shui literally means wind and water, so these natural forces play an important role in the practice. Ch’i, the life force, is said to be attracted to water so a well-placed fountain or fish tank is sure to attract positive energy.
A small water fountain or water wall will also attract good ch’i. Small fountains are available in many styles from retailers like Amazon.com and Pottery Barn. Prices, of course, vary, but you can find a nice fountain for your home for between $50 and $150.
America’s favorite starter pet, the fish, and its likeness are associated with success in Feng Shui. Stagnant water, though, is associated with a messy life so keep your fish happy and their water clean. If you’re not up for buying a fountain or new pet, mirrors are said to serve a similar function in Feng Shui.
The Practice of Placement
The best known aspect of Feng Shui is likely the practice of arranging furniture to achieve a harmonious energy in the home. For example, for all rooms in the home, artwork should be hung at eye level, though art should be hung above large pieces of furniture such as a sofa. Beds should not lie under exposed beams or near windows, as this blocks energy flow. The foot of the bed should also be kept clear.
As there are many rules in Feng Shui regarding placement of objects, you may want to research the finer points of the practice as they apply to your specific space, but achieving a more harmonious home is worth the effort.
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Related posts: What is Eclectic Home Decor? We Explore This Design Style, DIY Home Decor Ideas, Home Decor for Small Apartments
A beautiful picture can spark inspiration, which is why we’re obsessed with Instagram. Whether it’s searching for what to make for dinner or scrolling through images of cute animals, spending a little quality time on Instagram is one of our favorite hobbies. We also find it’s an especially good tool for home décor ideas.
Check out our list of the best home décor accounts to follow on Instagram below!
Favorite Home Decor Shops on Instagram
Following brand accounts brings multiple benefits – you’ll see incredible images of gorgeous interior spaces, plus, you’ll know exactly where to buy the products in each picture!
- @westelm – Find beautiful images of the brand’s modern home furnishings and décor. You can also follow the New Orleans store specifically (@westelmnola) for up-to-date information on sales and NOLA-friendly imagery like Mardi Gras floats and local eats.
- @jonathanadler – A designer and a brand, this Instagram user is your destination for snappy, preppy-chic design with loads of color and graphic prints.
- @fab – Fab.com’s Instagram highlights everyday design from around the globe. The shoppable brand recently featured a photo-realistic clutch from DVRA – a New Orleans-based company!
Favorite Home Decor Publications on Instagram
Print magazines and online publications are a great resource for on-trend designs.
- @elledecor – A classic. Sophisticated interiors that cater to a range of aesthetic styles plus a dash of wanderlust – to-die-for homes in Capri, Milan, and Los Angeles are all part of the mix.
- @dominomag – No longer a print publication, Domino Magazine has fortunately taken their eclectic interiors to the digital world. Expect a mix of decorating inspiration, entertaining ideas, and bright bursts of color.
- @apartmenttherapy – One of our favorite websites is also one of our favorite Instagram accounts. This apartment-specific Insta is chock full of space-saving tips, DIY tutorials, and the latest design trends.
New Orleans interior designer Whitney Jones shares design inspiration and DIYs on Instagram. (Photo courtesy whitneyjdecor on Instagram)
Favorite New Orleans Design Inspiration on Instagram
In a city full of style and character, these Igers serve up some serious design inspiration.
- @whitneyjdecor – This New Orleans based interior designer offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a day in the life of a designer and sneak peeks of DIY home decor projects.
- @hattiesparks – The Uptown boutique owner’s Instagram feed is a beautiful blend of local life and spot-on design inspo.
- @perchneworleans – The stylish Magazine Street home goods shop offers up antique, vintage & contemporary decor finds.
Favorite Home Decor Designers on Instagram
Take cues from these interior designers’ Instagram accounts – it’s like having a private consultation for free!
- @ryankorban – Elegant, decadent spaces juxtapose designer Ryan Korban’s witty captions.
- @kellywearstler – You’ll love her sartorial style as much as her interior design expertise. Swoon!
- @mrorlandosoria – The interior designer’s Instagram account is equal parts travelogue, foodie paradise, and clean-lined interior spaces.
Instagram user 5ftinf packs a rainbow of color into every photo. (Photo courtesy 5ftinf on Instagram)
Lagniappe – Irresistible Instagrammers
A few other favorites we couldn’t resist including.
- @5ftinf – Flowers! Botanicals! Tea! A dreamy Instagram account that celebrates natural simplicity.
- @themakerista – DIY prodigy Gwen Hefner shares some of her favorite projects.
- @sfgirlbybay – Stylist and blogger Victoria Smith shows us “the world through rose-colored glasses.” California dreaming at its finest!
Looking for more interior decorating inspiration?
Be sure to follow our Apartment Decorating board on Pinterest for even more home décor ideas!