I recently participated in a charity event event (Design on a Dime, Brooklyn Outpost) that had a ONE DAY installation time. We had one day to fully assemble a room vignette - not only that, but I didn’t even see some of the items in person until the installation day.
As someone who likes to have a bit of control over things (ahem, yes, I am a bit of a control freak although I’m working on it), this was enough to give me an ulcer. The silver lining, however was that I learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, and how to prepare for a one day transformation.
Here are some of the lessons I learned, in case you ever want to do a real one day makeover. You will need to start with a plan of where things will go, options for styling and art, and (preferably) two friends to help with moving and installation. There’s a quick re-cap at the end of the post (and a link to my amazing Pillow Cheat Sheet).
Here is a w-i-d-e angle shot of the 10'x10' space that was provided, the morning of the installation.
And at the end of the day, here's how it looked:
So the honest truth now: Is it exactly what I had in mind? Ummm, not exactly. I wanted something edgier, more ‘Brooklyn’, or more ‘Emily Henderson’ with casual moroccan throw pillows, and a bright, beach-y feeling. Of course, when you are depending on the kindness of donations, you have to be flexible.
My first ‘pivot’ off of my original idea happened when the two chairs were donated. I realized they wouldn’t stand out against a white wall, and come to think of it, neither would my white framed art or my light colored console. There wasn’t enough CONTRAST. Solution? Go bold with a rich paint color. This is a pretty big leap for me, but for a temporary setup, with no client, and no one living there in the end, I felt free to go for it, and I’m glad I did.
Lesson #1 CREATE CONTRAST.
If you have dark pieces, go light on the walls, but if you have light pieces,Don’t be afraid to go bold with paint to create CONTRAST. Paint is one of the EASIEST things to change, so don’t be afraid. The cost of paint and labor is much less than changing major pieces of furniture. We re-did it the morning of the installation and it went pretty quickly -- see for yourself...
Next it was time to get the tile floor assembled (tape on the back, so it could be sold), and place cowhide and furniture. Ahh, the cowhide. We rotated that baby around and around until it finally ‘felt right’. Then the bigger pieces. Since I had started with a pretty tight furniture plan (see the rendering below) I figured we’d have everything in place in a jiffy. WRONG! Once we got it all in there, it was a bit too rectilinear, with everything just running parallel or perpendicular to the walls. It needed a dynamic twist, so we changes the angle on the table which made it so much more interesting.
Lesson #2 MOVE IT AROUND
Experiment with furniture placement. Little tweaks of a few inches here or there with a rug or furniture can make a huge difference. Get a friend to help and stand back to view the results. I had what I thought was a great placement plan but ended up moving most of the pieces around to give it a more dynamic feel.
Now it was styling time. I had artwork on hand, but not much to spare. I also had a table runner, vases, and flowers. But I didn’t have enough variety or size options so I needed to run out and fill a few gaps with some last minute shopping.
Lesson #3 BRING MORE THAN YOU NEED
With decorative objects, variety is key. Bring books, bowls, vases, small sculptures. Bring more than you need so you can edit to perfection.
- Vary the scale and kinds of pieces - get tall items, large items, small items, and vary the type; books, small sculptures, bowls, flowers/plants (quality fakes are OK with me!)
- Vary the material - stone, wood, glass, soft throws, pillows with various textures.
- Bring a s###load extra. This is one time when buying and returning unused pieces is recommended.
How to do your own one day room makeover:
- Clear the space as much as you can. It’s best to add in to an empty space working from the bottom up (rug, furniture, art, decorative and greenery)
- Have at least one friend there to help
- Don’t be too attached to your original idea
- Have lots of options on hand, but don’t load up the space with decorative objects. Place, remove, tweak, and edit, edit, edit.
- Have fun and celebrate your new room at the end of the day with your kind helpers (wine and snacks, anyone?)