becki’s gorgeous home redesign: what she learned along the way

I recently redesigned my entire living space (a project that’s not for the faint of heart). I relocated from a cozy Victorian to a sleek, modern condo, and all of the overstuffed furniture and copious collections of books and tchotchkes I’d collected over the years suddenly looked worse than out of place in my new home.

Now that I’m done, I have a space I love that’s full of calm vibes, neutral tones and – best of all – no clutter. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips from what turned out to be a trickier process than I could ever have imagined:

Styling books: Stack books horizontally from largest to smallest (max of 3), but when stacking vertically, put the tallest books in the middle and shorter on either side. It gives the group a finished look, without looking too perfect. Also, if you have a lamp on a table that needs some added height, try stacking a couple of coffee-table books underneath.

I went with a very neutral palette for our new place – there’s almost no color to be found. To counteract what could easily have been a stark space, we used all kinds of texture to add warmth and dimension. Raw wood coffee tables, chunky woven poufs, nubby linen pillows and that amazing Moroccan souk rug (oh Rugs USA, how I love you). It all adds warmth without visual clutter, which was exactly what I wanted.

Tables: Table sizes were the trickiest thing to manage. Luckily, coffee tables can be custom made…did you know? Hire a designer: they are magic. And when no side table on the planet seemed to work in my living room, Restoration Hardware came to my rescue in a huge way with the perfect side table. So simple and stylish, it takes up almost no space, and blends in so perfectly, it’s like it was always here.

A sense of humor: Even though I call this my “grown-up house”, because it does feel very adult, you have to have a bit of fun in any home. Like the giant ceramic tiger I rescued from my mother-in-law’s house – he brings a bit of levity to a serious space. As do the brass animals on my mantle, and the dog portraits on my wall.

Lamps: I completely and totally underestimated how much fun I could have with lamps, but they’re one of my favorite things in this new space. Don’t be afraid to go a little crazy with colors and styles that seem out of the box.

Overbuy: If you’re not working with a pro (and really, you should be…they’re amazing), always overbuy accessories, making sure you can return what you don’t want. Have extra lamps, books, knickknacks, clocks, throws and pillows on hand, so that you can play around with your space and see what works. Trust me – you won’t know until you’ve tried a few options.

But really, the smartest thing I did? Enlist the help of a designer. Particularly if you find a local design store you love (if you’re in Portland, I can’t say enough about Manor Fine Wares), you’ll likely find that their in-house designer works for an incredibly reasonable price, and will save you infinite amounts of anxiety.

Are any of you contemplating a home makeover? What’s keeping you from taking the plunge? ~ Becki S.

PS: If you’re curious, you can check out more pics right here.

From our partners

We are planning to modernize our bathroom and install hardwood floors in the living room. I like the use of neutral tones because you can add all different color accents depending on your mood or the season.


It looks amazing. First photo is a knock-out. I’m in the process of selling my house and downsizing too and wow this makes me really want to just sell it ALL and start again.

Your home redesign looks FANTASTIC! I especially love the living room area with the couches and coffee table area. The colours just blend together, and it looks like a very compfortable place to be in.

Wish I had the skills and courage to redesign my home the way you have.

It looks fantastic! Great job! I love the color palette you chose to go with.

Great job with your renovation! Your choice of colors is really great and the whole place looks very comfortable. Congrats on choosing to place wooden tables…llooks great.