CLJ Summer School: Home Styling 101

Chris Loves Julia | Summer School: Home Styling 101 Chris Loves Julia | Summer School: Home Styling 101

Kitchen Desk (similar) | Glossy Ceramic Vase | Faux Snowball Flowers | Chair Stool | Laptop Cover | Copper Cookware

Sharpen those No. 2 pencils and open those pretty notebooks, it’s time to kick off Summer School 2024! Recently, we started diving deep into design principles during the month of July and calling it Summer School. Last year, we focused on Color! Color theory, incorporating color into your home, and more. It. was….INCREDIBLE! (start here!) And before that, Summer School was focused on falling in love with your home over the course of 4 lessons and countless quizzes, inspiration and worksheets. (start here for that one!)

This month, we’re going to cover an area that tends to be hard for a lot of us: styling spaces in your home. It doesn’t matter what design style you love, the same principles can apply. You’ll learn an acronym below that will help you think through what every room needs to feel like a designed space.

I’ll start off each week with some guidelines for styling that you may never have considered before. On Tuesdays, I’ll send some bonus tips over email (exclusive to subscribers, so sign up here!). Each Wednesday, I’m going to assemble three bundles of products at different price points to give you inspiration for how I’d style a space. And every Friday, I’ll share some spaces on Instagram that are inspiring me. I’m so excited to kick off this month of projects that will hopefully empower you to work within the spaces you have to make them feel more “finished”!

How I Approach Styling (and a Handy Formula to Follow)

Chris Loves Julia | Julia styling a cabinet in the "Modern Cottage" in Idaho FallsChris Loves Julia | Julia styling a cabinet in the "Modern Cottage" in Idaho Falls
Dining Room in our “Modern Cottage” Idaho Falls, ID 2020

Reeded Glass and Wood Cabinet | Lamp | Large Wooden Trough (vintage) | Forba Pot | Wine Glasses

I think a lot of times when we’re styling our homes, the majority of people are doing so for other people when they come over. It’s easy to think, “Oh, I want it to look nice when so-and-so comes over.” That’s not what this Summer School is about for me. For me, it’s about how to enjoy your home for you. You know how you’ve heard, “Don’t wait to wear the dress for a special occasion, just wear it”? I feel like we do kind of the same things with our homes. We wait to style a room and make it look its best until someone’s coming over. But how wonderful would it be to just do that for ourselves?! Let’s do that this month…and forevermore.

This is not about styling your home for a magazine shoot, it’s about styling your home for your own personal fulfillment. Every one of us deserves that and I don’t think it’s entirely obvious how to do that. So I want to create a little formula for you to remember, and we were able to finagle it into an acronym to make it easier to remember. So, let’s break down the idea of STYLING!

S for Shiny

Chris Loves Julia | "Modern Cottage" Primary BathroomChris Loves Julia | "Modern Cottage" Primary Bathroom

Ball Cabinet Knobs | Rectangle Metal Framed Mirror | Sconces | Clouds Wall Art | Brass Towel Bar

Every space can benefit from something shiny. This is where mirrors come in, alongside hardware, sconces, light fixtures, trays — anything that reflects light around a room. I also think it’s important to not only bring in metals, but mix metals so that the room doesn’t feel one-note. For example, I tend to go with antique brass and polished nickel in a lot of my spaces, because they both lend themselves to a traditional, yet modern space.

T for Texture

Chris Loves Julia | "Modern Colonial" House Primary BedroomChris Loves Julia | "Modern Colonial" House Primary Bedroom
Shop The Primary Bedroom

I like a juxtaposition of textures and textiles in almost every room. If your entry has a jute rug, I love the idea of pairing it with a velvet bench. If there’s a leather chair in our bedroom, then I love bringing that soft velvet bench into our bedroom. Some sort of pattern mixed pattern if there’s no pattern in your room, styling is a great place to bring in pattern, they usually shy away from patterns in the base of their rooms because they are afraid of committing to a pattern long term. They might go all solids on the main surfaces and furniture. Talk about patterns in the textiles, pillows, throws, area rugs.

Y for You

Chris Loves Julia | Julia in front of family photographs on the dining room wallChris Loves Julia | Julia in front of family photographs on the dining room wall

Dining Table | Chairs (vintage) | Vase (similar) | Dinner Plates (similar) | Gallery Frames | CLJ x Shades of Light Chandelier | Wallpaper | CLJ x Loloi Briggs Mist/Ivory Rug

Our homes should reflect us, and the best way to make your home feel unique is to bring your own taste and personality into your home. It’s going to be unique from person to person. A little something sentimental or nostalgic or quirky into our spaces that makes each space uniquely ours. A lot of times people think “you” means a family photo and it can — look at our dining room! We have a whole wall of family photos in our dining room and it makes that room feels personal. But it can also be a souvenir from a trip, a small framed picture that’s meaningful, or it can be a collection that you have. Like if your grandma had copper pots so you collect copper pots because they remind you of her. Someone looking at that collection may not know that story they may just think it’s beautiful, and that’s ok, because that’s what makes your home yours. You can even have sentimental art that was gifted, like little houses, name or number plaques above hooks. What little personal touch can you add that makes it unique for you and your family. These things they don’t have to spell out “Me! I live here!”, but these pieces really create stories and make it feel personal everywhere YOU look.

L for Lighting

Chris Loves Julia | A small electric candle lit on kitchen shelvesChris Loves Julia | A small electric candle lit on kitchen shelves

Shop The Kitchen

When we’re talking about lighting as styling, it comes down to setting a mood. Which means choosing bulbs that are functional for the space — whether you’re trying to achieve a level of brightness or you’re trying to soften the look. Choosing the right color and brightness of bulbs enhances the features of the space and creates the mood that I want it to have. I’m also going to throw dimmers into styling because they can really make a space. I rarely have the living room light all the way on! While some spaces lend themselves better to a lamp than others, I always try to add multiple sources of light in just about every room. Whether that’s an overhead lantern and a picture light in a mudroom or a chandelier and an oversized lamp in a bedroom, it’s important to have options to layer light if at all possible. It really makes the space feel dynamic and more interesting.

I for Inviting

Chris Loves Julia | A leather chair and fluffy ottoman in the Bonus RoomChris Loves Julia | A leather chair and fluffy ottoman in the Bonus Room
Shop The Bonus Room

This can mean different things depending on the space, but you always want to think about what’s inviting. This can mean layers of blankets or rugs to create a soft feel. Candles (real or electric) can feel inviting too. A place to set things down such as a coat rack or catchall tray often makes it feel welcoming. Think of what makes your life easier and what feels good to guests. Perhaps you need to add a vase of flowers to brighten your mood. Or maybe you have a favorite scent going in your diffuser. It’s all about what makes you feel happy to be at home.

N for Necessary

Chris Loves Julia | The built-in bookcase in the studyChris Loves Julia | The built-in bookcase in the study

Shop The Study

Think about what’s necessary in the space you’re styling. Most of the time, that means storage! For the entry that could be a little tray for shoes or catchall dish, storage doesn’t have to be closed necessarily, it’s something that can corral the less beautiful things (keys, sunglasses, that’s where they go) or even a credenza is great for an entry for stuff that tends to gather there. Every space needs stylish storage. Also, every space needs a stack of something to create a sense of visual order. In the kitchen that could be footed pedestal with a cruet and candle on it. Or a bookcase that has a stack of books with a weighted sculpture. It’s about creating height and balance in your styled space.

G for Greenery

Chris Loves Julia | The "Modern Cottage" Living RoomChris Loves Julia | The "Modern Cottage" Living Room
Shop The Living Room

I do think that you need something green in almost every space. Greenery just relaxes the mind and provides a connection to the natural world, even if it’s through a faux plant or vase of stems. Don’t be afraid to mix faux and real plants, if that’s your style. I tend to go for neutral stems in whites and greens so they are more of a background element and not the focal point. This makes the space feel more open.

We’ll reconvene tomorrow to learn how I apply these principles to the first spaces you see in the home: The front porch, entryway (or mudroom), and powder room. Class dismissed!

If you’d like some “extra credit”, check out our past sessions including Color School and Fall in Love with Your Home.

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