av Village Antiques, Houston’s Premier French Antique Store

Design lessons…A Before & After

post by Village Antiques
Hi there!


Today I’m so excited to share exactly how I tackled one of my favorite before and after projects!


To achieve your dream of finishing a room, all it takes is some savvy shopping, and a little design talent. (Trust me, you have it in you!) 


Let’s dive right into an exclusive design lesson—where I’ll show you how to take full advantage of this special event, and know EXACTLY what to buy.


Free Tips And Design Secrets To Get Maximum Benefit From Our Half Yearly Event (if you haven’t registered for our amazing Half-Yearly 50% OFF sale – CLICK HERE to register)


I know it sounds overwhelming, but guess what? It’s not!


To be sure you get it right, I’ll even share an exclusive Behind-The-Scenes look at how I tackle a project…step by step.


Remember: This is about more than furniture and décor. It’s a chance to tell your story.


Here is the Before Picture from a project of mine. As you can see, the family really struggled to find space. The furniture did not fit, and the back door hit the chairs. It was far from ideal.


I set out to maximize their space, using antiques, and vintage and one-of-a-kind pieces. Here’s EXACTLY what I did…






The transformation is so astonishing, you’d never believe it’s the same room!

And yet it was easy and I was able to work with my customer’s budget, as I’ll explain.


Let me give you my personal checklist—the SAME one I use to professionally design homes! It will show you just how “do-able” this really is.


Step 1 – Focus on one room


  • We often set out to change just one or two pieces, but end up dwelling on everything, including empty spots, small improvements, and much more. Things like artwork, finishing touches, wall decor, furniture painting, that missing rug, and so on, and boy do we get overwhelmed. Sometimes we give up.
  • Here’s my secret: Stay focused. Don’t be perfectionist! Start with ONE room—maybe your great room or dining room. Stick with that room at all costs. Soon you’ll forget the others, enjoy the process, and be super . Like all of life, the journey is as much fun as the outcome! Simply follow my instructions, and BOTH will be an amazing experience that you’ll relish.


For the Breakfast Room project above, we chose the breakfast room (and stuck with it.)


Step 2 – Design a floor plan and make your list


  • Don’t jump in your car just yet! In fact don’t even THINK about which pieces you want. Once you know what fits, the pieces will speak to you and jump right out. Think in 2D and determine what will fit in your space.


For the Breakfast Room project, we were really tight on space as I show you in this floor plan markup.




So I started by fitting a custom banquette against the wall. Like magic, the rest of the design started to come together. Practice this by simply putting pencil to paper. You’ll be amazed at the creative ideas that pour out. 


  • Once I knew what would fit, I started making a list. You can do this on excel, word, even your smartphone (which is what I usually do.)
(See an example on my blog and get a free downloadable template at http://www.villageantiques.net/dimensionguide)
  1. Write the exact pieces you’ll need, or think you might need
  2. Write the approximate dimensions of the particular space you’re decorating.
  3. VERY IMPORTANT: Be sure to note which size WON’T fit into your space. (Furniture never looks the same at home as it did in the shop.) More on that shortly…
  4. Take photos of your room and its empty spots with your iPhone. This will help when you start hunting.


Step 3 – Give yourself “space”


  1. Dimensions are very important…one huge (yet common) design mistake is when people buy furniture that’s either way too small, or often, too big, for their home.
  2. Great rule of thumb: Leave at least 3’ around furniture. For example, if you’re doing a dining room project, leave 3’ behind your chairs, and in-between a table and a buffet


That was the problem with the breakfast room. With the table in the center, there were barely 3’ around the furniture. The door would actually hit people while they ate! They couldn’t use the bar area either, because there was no room to move the bar stools.



*TIP: I know these floor plans, like the one I did for my customer, seem “fancy” and overwhelming, but to be honest—I did them on scratch paper or a napkin (as I often do). Don’t get overwhelmed.


Step 4 – Gather samples


Once I knew what I needed, I moved on to selecting fabrics. Since the banquette was custom, I started with that as my guide. Psst…here’s a designer secret – the fabric on the banquette? A beautiful outdoor chenille fabric! It was very durable and comfortable too.


  1. Put together a ziplock bag of the fabrics you’re working with. (I love a clear bag so you can see everything while you hunt to find the perfect finishing pieces)
  2. Put any paint swatches in there
  3. Add any color preferences and inspiration photos
  4. I knew the colors my client hoped to see in their home so that’s what ended up in my sample bag.


Step 5 – Block Out Time


This may not seem like designer advice, but trust me—it is.


One of the biggest reasons designers are so successful…is a deadline! Knowing they’re up against the clock, they work backwards to plan their schedule so they can meet their deadline


  1. Select a deadline. Then choose 2-3 dates when you’ll be able to spend an hour working uninterrupted.


I scheduled time to have the banquette made, meet with a drapery company; find an antique breakfast table, antique side chairs, select the artwork and accessories, and get it all installed—all in one exhilarating day. It was the only way to ensure I got everything selected, met my client’s expectation, and still enjoyed my job!



Now go Shopping and Start the Hunt! 


Would you believe that was the last part of the project I did?!


Once I knew exactly what I needed, it took less than a week to find everything, and take advantage of any deals I found along the way. I could make snap, “on-the-spot” decisions, because I had my dimension and color guides ready. Great planning is the key to great design.


What should you do next?


So take a few minutes to decide which room you want to tackle. If you can focus on one room you can really get a lot accomplished.


However, if you have a lot of “empty pockets” throughout your home you can take advantage of this same lesson for ALL of those areas.


Once you’re done reading this article, walk around your room or home with your smart phone, a piece of scratch paper and your measuring tape.


Using your measuring tape, scale in a few sizes of objects that might work and of course won’t work – so you know what not to bring home.


Then the ideas will start to pour out!


When you’re on the thrill of the hunt, pieces that fit will jump out at you. I know it’s a little time consuming but it’s not hard. Once you get the hang of it you’ll finally start to finish all those pending projects and have a truly gorgeous designer home!


And don’t forget to take a mental image and a real image of the fabrics and colors that inspire you – to bring along for our event or any shopping spree. Use the things you already have or want to include in your decor to help guide your selections on art such as the pair of colored in engravings, throw pillows and the like. 


I hope you enjoyed this blog, if so please share this article with a friend! And be sure to leave a comment sharing the part you loved the best or the part of the process that you struggle with the most.


See you soon!





p.s. Don’t miss our amazing Half-Yearly 50% OFF event where you can score loads of designer treasures like the ones in my project at steep discounts. This only happens twice a year (and the first day is the best!) Click here to register now!


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