A home artist’s tips for budget decorating

By LAUREN SHEEHAN

“Home artist” Brook Thompson created a faux rock wall in Lauren Sheehan’s new home. Photo by Lauren Sheehan.

Brook Thompson wakes up in the morning and jots down creative decorating ideas before most people have poured their first cup of coffee.  Even as a girl, she was often found redecorating her Barbie Dream House. As a teenager, she was constantly helping friends rearrange their bedrooms and paint their walls.

While raising her three young sons, Brook’s professional dreams were put on hold. Never willing to sit idle, she poured her creativity into sewing capes for Super Man birthday parties, crocheting scarves and helping friends decorate their homes. Underneath it all, her dream of turning her hobby into a profession was always there.

As she prepared for her youngest child to enter kindergarten this year, her wheels started turning. “What if I could really do this for a living?” she thought.  She dreamed of estate sales, salvaged moldings and faux finishes—whatever it took to transform a room into an environment that reflected its homeowner in some way. So, she decided to give it a shot.

Brook and I became friends when I was her son’s second grade teacher at The Westminster School at Oak Mountain last year. Upon learning that I recently purchased a house, Brook quickly volunteered to help me make it a “home.” Being a teacher on a tight budget, I didn’t think I could afford a decorator’s fees. Little did I realize that Brook is a bargain hunter with great vision for her finds. She loves refinishing furniture, distressing wood and adding character elements to furniture in order to suit their space.

For instance, Brook, who is a big believer in adding architecture to a space, asked if she could transform an archway in my living room into a “rock wall.” While I was hesitant because I couldn’t picture her vision, I trusted her instincts and let her loose. This portion of my new home defines it to feel like an aged European cottage that reflects my personality and my Irish heritage.

Brook’s tips for budget decorating

Paint is the least expensive fix, but it doesn’t have to be just on the walls.  If you want to redo a room, don’t think you have to throw out everything and start over.  Shop in your own home.  The furniture you already have could have a new life painted.

Rearrange things. So many design trends are throwing out the old rules and moving different kinds of furniture into unexpected places.  An unused dresser in your guest room might be exactly what you need in your entryway.  Even moving your furniture slightly can create a homier feel in order to create conversation nooks around the home.

Shopping is a journey. Embrace the process and be selective about what you bring into your sanctuary. Take a friend and make a Saturday of it.  Shop at flea malls and antique markets and look for unexpected pieces that can be customized.Chances are you will find a better price, have less buyer’s remorse and build a memory that you will think of every time you look at your new piece of furniture.

Don’t buy things to achieve a look or feel.  Step back and look at what you already have.  Add texture and depth in your walls and floor, and never forget the ceiling!  Architecture can be the thing your room is lacking.  Save money by getting others’ opinions, and find the real problem.

Don’t think of perfection, think of your life’s story. When I realized my life was going to have three little boys with oodles of energy in it, I knew that my home would never be perfect, but I wasn’t going to let that make me postpone living in a house that I loved.  So, I painted and purchased things that were already aged and distressed. The more nicks and scratches it has, the more beautiful it would become.  This change in my mindset has saved me loads of money.

For more examples of Brook Thompson’s work, visit, www.brookhuff.blogspot.com. To contact her, email brookhuff@aol.com or call 222-7651.

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