how to: decorate like yourself

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Remember Courtney and Lauren from their DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews in the past few weeks? Well, not to let the cat out of the bag or anything, but we have actually become buddies both online and offline. Since we all share a love for blogging, drinks, and Chicago we are also coordinating a Chicago blog party at Matilda’s August 15th. Interested? Email me ( for more info.

Anyways, today we are swapping blog posts- below are their awesome philosophies on customized interior design. (PS- if you want them to customize your home, explore their affordable design services.) And over on their blog I am explaining why you need to makeunder before your makeover. Check it.


Photo via Apartment Therapy

dear home decorators,

our goal at kelly + olive is not just to provide you with kick-ass color schemes, tons of inspiration images, shopping lists, and how-tos that are DIY-lite.  it’s to help you create rooms like none other.  ones that reflect who you are, and make you feel truly at home.  so, for your convenience, we made a list of our favorite rules.  and even though rule number one is always break all the rules, you should probably just read these anyway.

here goes:

display your collections.


Photo via Apartment Therapy

you picked up all those ceramic dog figurines for a reason.  you love them — figure out a way to use them in your decor!  whether you hang your vintage horse ribbons grid-style on the wall or devote an entire china cabinet to your fanciest stilettos, don’t be afraid to really show them off.

mix old and new.

we’re not saying you have to go all shabby chic coffee table with your ultra modern sofa, but rooms look weird when everything is the same age.  even if that vintage eames lounger is in near perfect condition, there’s something about a chair that’s been around for a while…it has this energy, this wisdom about it.  sounds wooey, but it’s scientific fact.  these older things make your newer things look richer somehow, more interesting.  it’s all in the mix.

only buy things you absolutely love.


Photo via Apartment Therapy

this is the hardest.  too often we decide we NEED something, and have to get it right now, so we don’t take the time to look for the perfect piece.  we end up spending a couple hundred bucks on something we’re lukewarm about, and then feel guilty when we want to chuck it a couple months later.  it’s a downward spiral.  we say use the cardboard box-as-coffee table until you find one you like!  don’t be embarrassed.  you’re waiting for mr. right, not mr. right now.

slow rooms.

buying a room directly from a catalog is like buying a bed in a bag.  just don’t do it.  you are a multifaceted person, and if you want your room to reflect that, you must fill it with the contents of your life, not the contents of west elm.  take your time.  let it evolve.  accept the fact that you will never really be “done.”



photo via Design*Sponge

there are entire blogs listing the eight quadrillion ways to alter your store bought furniture.  hello, ikea hacker, welcome to my apartment.  just do something to it!  take the doors off, paint it, paper it, stencil it, stick stickers on it, bedazzle it within an inch of it’s life.  you’ll have created a custom piece that no one else in the world has, and when you get compliments on it, you’ll get to be all, “oh, i just spruced it up a little.”  trust us, that just makes it all worthwhile.

don’t think too much.

just do what your gut tells you: make decisions, execute them, then edit ruthlessly.  in that order.  the only reason we get stuck is because we’re not following our guts in the first place, and we’re editing before we’ve even painted a wall.  what’s the worst that could happen?  you have to do it over?  we’ve been there, and it’s not a big deal.  decorating shouldn’t stress you out.  it’s a process of self-expression like any other.  we’re not saying it isn’t frustrating at times, but at the end of the day, it’s just a room.  it should make you happy, not sad.

so, go forth!  be brave soldiers of style!  be original!  make us proud!  and of course, don’t forget to send pics.

lauren + courtney.

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  1. Kaitlyn

    Great tips! I would love to join you at the Chicago blog party, sounds fun!

  2. Jill

    These are great tips… I love the build slowly philosophy. It’s true that picking up things here and there gently build a unique and personal look!

    Blog party? Chicago? I might just have to swing down for a weekend! That sounds super fun! Keep me posted on details!

  3. Rachel

    Great rules! I love the one about not getting stressed out – so true.

  4. blair

    Oh, I so wish I would be in Chicago! What a wonderful idea and such a fantastic post.

  5. Jess

    @ Kaitlyn, Jill, and Blair: The party is open to everyone so if you can make the trip we hope to have a great time! And spread the word to other Chicagoland bloggers as well.

    @ Rachel, Jill, and Rachel: I know, right? They are awesome, and I am totally in love with their writing style.

  6. SDG

    Very timely advice! I sure could use this right about now.

  7. i saw that clock on design sponge and have been wanting to do something similar ever since. i can’t get it out of my head!

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