Our house is so big and empty - I don't know what to decorate first
Tracey Ewart
December 7, 2013 in Design Dilemma
This is NOT a common problem I know - but we ended up buying a slightly-too-big home (3300 sqft) and it has tall ceilings in most rooms. Another important detail, we are on a TIGHT budget. Our home is a bit dated. Our walls are mostly blank. Sounds kinda sad I know!

Any suggestions for where to start? Should we break up our home into smaller living areas and ignore some areas? Should I just decorate with very large impact budget pieces?

On Saturdays when I look around, it just feels so empty and blank...everywhere i look. It's a helpless kind of a feeling - not knowing where to start. Any ideas appreciated :)

Our house is a spanish style craftsman with lots of dark trim, in northern California. Thanks!
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Since you're on a tight budget, if you decide you need more furniture and wall hanging, you should see if you can't find something suitable at garage sales, flee markets, want ads, Craig's List and thrift stores. I can't tell you all the great knick knacks I've gotten for a dollar or two when I needed stuff for my 3 bookcases in my dining room. I've also found some great picture frames at the thrift store for a fraction of what they cost at a craft store. Years ago I got a very nice sofa, oak end table and lamp for a fraction of their cost at a garage sale in a very wealthy area. You just need to get creative and see what's out there.

If you decide to close up part of your house during the winter, make sure you leave some heat on so your pipes don't freeze, and you don't have other problems related to the cold damp climate.
December 7, 2013 at 11:53AM        Thanked by Tracey Ewart
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Amy Cali
I'd start at furniture consignment or 2nd hand stores to locate one or two larger pieces with personality and build from there. I'd start with the rooms used most often. Living room, master bedroom, eating area (kitchen or dining). Homegoods is also a wonderful place to source designer pieces at bargain prices.
December 7, 2013 at 11:55AM        Thanked by Tracey Ewart
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HERE Design and Architecture
It will be much easier to comment substantively if you post some pics.
December 7, 2013 at 11:56AM     
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Tracey Ewart
Can I add photos to my post above? I have blank walls to show :)
December 7, 2013 at 11:56AM   
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Breaking up the house room by room is more manageable and easier to do as budget allows.
December 7, 2013 at 11:56AM     
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Tracey Ewart
ok guess I'll have to attach my house photos in comments
December 7, 2013 at 12:00PM     
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Tracey Ewart
two more
December 7, 2013 at 12:01PM     
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HERE Design and Architecture
Wow - this is a nice house. I wouldn't get too hung up on decorating yet. Keep an eye out for good things. Look at second hand stores. Things will come to you. In the meantime, continue to use holiday stuff (trees, natural garlands, etc.) to fill the house. If you get around to it and want some help, we provide art consultation services as well - or use the Pro Finder to find someone in your area.
December 7, 2013 at 12:52PM        Thanked by Tracey Ewart
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Beautiful house! Keep it simple and minimalist for now and collect beautiful furniture and decorative objects for it slowly and carefully. Biggest mistake is to get impatient and buy junk just to fill it.
December 7, 2013 at 12:57PM        Thanked by Tracey Ewart
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I agree! Beautiful home! There's no reason to stress out about not having it all decked out yet. Take your time. Find your style - Browes Rooms here on Houzz and save things to your Ideabooks. I shop garage sales in the "ritzier" part of town too and go to consignment shops. Ask the owners of antique stores when they go to auctions or on buying trips and plan to visit when their sections are best. Ask about lay-a-way. Decorate for the holidays now if that is your tradition. Enjoy your new home now :)
December 7, 2013 at 1:31PM        Thanked by Tracey Ewart
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Congratulations, that looks like a beautiful house. You have been given some great advice. Something similar happened to me 7years ago now, ie bought a house larger than intended. I am now glad I took my time (also due to financial restraints) and lived in the house with just the main areas 'done'. The rest evolved gradually as I got inspired and as I could afford it. One thing I learned on the way, paint is cheap to experiment with, 'mistakes' can easily be rectified. Best of luck!
December 7, 2013 at 1:53PM        Thanked by Tracey Ewart
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The first large piece I'd try to find would be a large round dining table with the weight to work with that great huge chandelier. Add a gorgeous centerpiece arrangement. Second item; large colorful art piece for that big blank wall in the living room. Two substantial visually impactful items like those will make you feel like you're living in a mansion and will add a great first impression when guests visit. You don't have to have a lot of stuff, just the right stuff.

December 7, 2013 at 5:05PM        Thanked by Tracey Ewart
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Gorgeous home! When I faced a similar dilemma on a much smaller scale, I ignored the main room and set up the dining room as my den. This way I could arrange the larger room according to need when I had guests over.
In your space, I think you could easily fit LR/DR in the main room and leave the dining area open. Maybe place an indoor garden and create a conservatory type setting, minimally furnished but pleasing.
December 8, 2013 at 11:12AM     
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Tracy, a lovely home to work with. Perhaps think about white washing all the dark timber inside and keeping it very simple with lighter coloured furnishings all in natural fabrics etc. A huge big natural dark timber table with comfortable linen covered dinning chairs. The mixture of white, dark natural timber, and perhaps just one other colour. A earthy green is alway nice in this look. Keeping it simple it will look sophisticated and because of the natural fabrics etc it will still feel as if you can relax in it and feel like your home. The odd lovely throw on the sofas also looks good and are practical if one feels like snuggling down to a good movie.
I'm from New Zealand and really love Houzz and how it works.
Good luck. Cheers Gaylene.
December 9, 2013 at 10:40PM   
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Tracy - what a gem. Decoenthusiaste gives good advice about focus - I'll take that one step further. Measure out with painters tape on the floor or cut out / taped together newsprint the size of table you want and watch craigslist until something that suits you comes along. You can shop consignment furniture stores in the high end villages near you . . . another great way to get high quality for less - As for the first piece of art, may I suggest you visit your local art store and buy the largest stretched canvas they have . . . or a pair of them, then visit the craft store and pick out no more than 4 colors that you can blend with white or gray to get different shades and tones work well together and do something abstract yourself - go look at art.com and see what you admire that you think you can copy - with white walls and dark wood, - use the natural canvas as your white. Have fun and do something simple and graphic if you don't feel like doing something with blocks and shades - copy the swiss flag, etc. It's for you - so scale is all . . . your original . . hang it up until you can buy what you want.
December 9, 2013 at 11:01PM        Thanked by Tracey Ewart
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For the walls, you need big art. Find some great fabric (maybe curtain fabric?) with a big pattern and have three long strips and hang them to fill your wall. Or you can do a quilt or rug.

Get some plants.

I think you need more color, so I'd also add some pillows and a throw rug to match the wall decor you get.
December 10, 2013 at 12:35AM     
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Nice house! Invest in good lighting so the space is well lit (helps you feel better), furniture will come later.
December 10, 2013 at 2:16AM     
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Some patterned throw rugs are so attractive they make great temporary tapestries to cover a wall until you get art. Just fold over, stitch, thread through a rod and hang on Commander removable hooks, or whatever you call them there. Cozy.
December 10, 2013 at 2:50AM     
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Just wanted to return and reread your question and some answers to say something none of us wrote but us pros thought - this is an amazing house. Architecturally, you have something really precious here - particularly for California where our history is also Mexican and Spanish and here I see some 70's eco-awareness. In the 70's "spanish wrought iron" was the trending architectural fashion like european manor house was the "thing" 10 years ago. So you might see some elements like that, but the post and beam architecture to me says pure 70's contemporary finished with what was considered high end / best available at the time.

You might use the word dated, or you might describe it as a time capsule - accurate to the style of an upscale 70's home in an integrated way. Yes, you may want new light fixtures and lighting strategies, but keep the old ones / sell them at a consignment store to help you fund your next steps. You may want rework finishes in the baths and kitchens . . . Take your time and think through them carefully - the railing, for instance, is classic modern in any era. Anything you take out of here in one piece can probably be resold at architectural salvage.

The 70's modern coupled with organic elements and glass can be updated true to the spirit of natural elements - this could be a showcase project for a local young architect / designer who can really hear what you love and want and help you find the right balance of new - and if you research Sea Ranch and Post Ranch and other nature inspired northern california architecture of the 70's, I think you will find lots of similarities and some amazing inspiration. You guys should have a vision that is informed before you do too much . ..

Bottom line - be proud of this space. Marvel over the high end tile countertops (high end for their time) and big timbers . . . invite friends over and enjoy it . . . .you get to live in it . . have to make the payments . . . you guys had the taste and vision to see the potential here - celebrate the love that went into it the first time until you make your own mark.
December 10, 2013 at 11:23AM        Thanked by Tracey Ewart
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A beautiful home. Take your time, learn how you live in the house and ENJOY the journey of making it your home. It's pretty outstanding as it is.
December 10, 2013 at 11:46AM     
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Tracey we have exactly the same problem. Our house is over 4500 square foot which for the UK is very large. We stretched ourselves to buy it and so haven't had a lot of spare cash floating around to just go out and shop to fill the place. Everything we do buy has to be thought through to make sure we're not making a mistake. As a result more than four years on and we still haven't filled the space.

We are getting there slowly though. I trawl ebay for art so that my walls don't look the same as everyone elses. You can get some amazing pieces on there. My best ever is an oil painting by a british artist. On his gallery site the painting was sold for just under £1,000 GBP about five years ago. I bought it for £36 on ebay!

Take your time. Don't feel rushed. Enjoy and get to know the space and you'll fill it as you come across pieces that work for you and your family.
December 10, 2013 at 11:54AM        Thanked by Tracey Ewart
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Tracey Ewart
You guys have written some really nice things - and I thank you all! It reminds me to appreciate what we do have - good bones and a good house! The ideas here are terrific too - thank you all so much!! Keep them coming...
December 10, 2013 at 12:29PM     
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We have he same beams and ceiling as you! Is your house a "Deck House"?

I would make it a high priority to change out all the light fixtures -- to me that's the main thing that feels 'dated' about the space.
December 10, 2013 at 12:48PM     
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libradesigneye! What a great idea to make your art. I'm going to try that too and let my two grandchildren try it also! Gonna wait til Hobby Lobby has the canvases 40% off, though. What fun. I can't wait :))))
December 10, 2013 at 1:21PM     
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Gorgeous home! As many have mentioned, do not be in a rush.

Pick which room is bothering you the most. Dream BIG and search for pics of the way you envision that room looking. I'm a huge fan of getting EXACTLY what you like .. no matter how long it takes .. especially if you plan on staying in this home for many years.

For now, fill your home with friends & family, lots of love and laughter and the sweet smells of the season .. cookies baking, Christmas tree, etc.

Congratulations on this beautiful home!
December 10, 2013 at 1:55PM   
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