There’s decor, and then there’s decor to adore. And then there’s “Decor to Adore,” the delightful blog by Laura Ingalls Gunn.
Laura is extremely passionate about decorating, so much so that she devoted her life and career to helping people like you decorate their homes to their full potential.
And best of all, Laura is proof that beautiful decor needn’t cost an arm and a leg. She offers several affordable services, and has decorated many a room herself using bargain accessories that cost less than you can possibly imagine.
It’s all about creativity and potential, and Laura will help you achieve both.
Laura is with us today to give us a brief glimpse of her decorating genius, and for those of you trying to sell an unsellable home, please pay particular attention to Laura’s advice. Without further ado, here’s Laura!
1. Hi Laura, thank you for spending some time with us today. Please take a moment to briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your “Decor to Adore” blog, your business, and the services you offer.
Thank you so very much for this wonderful opportunity. My name is Laura Ingalls Gunn and I currently live in the ever sunny Phoenix area. I run my design business, Arranging Elegance, out of my home that I share with my husband, two children, and our beloved dachshund. I began my blog, Decor to Adore, as a means of documenting both my personal and professional life. My blog features things I adore and find charming as well as design and decorating projects I have completed for clients and in my own home.
2. Let’s start out with the recent news that your daughter is taking off for college later this year. Please describe the mixed emotions that you must be feeling, with part of you sad that she is leaving and the other part of you salivating over the decorating possibilities of her empty room.
Much of who I am today is because of my daughter. When they first placed her in my arms I was at once overwhelmed and consumed with the thought that I now had to be all that I could be and more for her. The life lesson of giving someone roots so that they may have wings is always hardest on the person left behind. I joke on my blog that I am wrapping my pain up in fabric.
Not only do I now have the opportunity to design a beautiful new guest room to occupy the space she leaves behind, but my sweet daughter is also allowing me to help her decorate her new apartment. Her taste is vastly different than mine. She loves mid century modern, pop art and prefers a fantastical color palette.
I love to be challenged and work outside of my comfort zone. I feel that when you go beyond what you believe are your limitations the end result is a better designer.
3. Let’s talk trash. Ok, not real trash, but you’ve written many times about your love of sifting through people’s unwanted furniture and hunting down bargains at garage sales. What is it that excites you most about this activity, the thrill of the chase, the deep discounts, or the rewards of seeing something that you’ve created after you’ve transformed it?
For me there is a great deal of satisfaction in seeing something that someone has deemed trash and turning it into a treasure. I love the creativity of imagining what something could be other than its intended purpose.
I also adore the one of a kind aspect that is achieved when you paint or reupholster an old piece. It truly becomes your own. Of course the green aspect is an added bonus when saving something destined for a landfill. Many people enjoy having beautiful things around them that are of good quality. You can have both while on a budget if you are willing to invest a bit of time and elbow grease.
My current challenge is to create a gorgeous guest room strictly with things I have found at yard sales, ebay, Freecycle and Craigslist. I am even visiting stores to scan the “oops” section for paint. I have often found perfect colors for $5 a gallon.
4. Let’s talk about some of the services you offer as an interior decorator. Based on the shows HGTV chooses to air, real estate staging is very popular. In this buyer’s market, it’s even more important to make your house as sellable as it can be.
What two or three top tips would you have for our readers who are in need of dressing up their home for resale, but are on a tight budget?
In the majority of homes that I am called to consult on many of the fantastic selling and focal points of the house are lost under a sea of clutter. I try to keep things positive and get my clients excited. They are going to sell this home! They are going to be moving! Let’s get a jump on packing! It only costs a bit of your time to pack up some of your unnecessary items. The result is a spacious feeling that appeals to buyers.
A thorough cleaning and sprucing from the light fixtures down to the baseboards can make a dramatic difference. There is something to be said about sparkling windows and trimmed hedges. If a buyer doesn’t see the homeowner caring about the little things they may wonder if the owner has also been lackadaisical on other important areas of home maintenance. The cost is minimal. It is primarily an investment of your time. If you find yourself lacking motivation, try visiting web sites such as The Fly Lady or The Queen of Clean. They’ll get you going in the right direction.
If you have done the above two things and your home still isn’t moving consider calling in a staging professional before you lower your asking price by 5, 10 or even 20 thousand dollars. There may be something you are missing such as the rearrangement of your furnishings and accessories to create an atmosphere that will have a prospective buyer falling in love with your home. I recently was called for a consultation on a home that had been on the market for 9 months. I worked a little rearranging magic in a few hours for a $350 fee. The house sold within the week. This has happened time and again. It is better to spend a few hundred dollars than to lose out on a several thousand.
5. We’re guessing that the time you spent living in Europe greatly fueled your passion for home decor and inspired countless ideas that you use today. Decoratively speaking, what was it like living in Europe, and what do you miss most about it?
Not a week goes by that I don’t miss Europe.
I first arrived on Crete Greece as a spoiled American who believed in the concept of more is more. With no mall or fast food and the realization that people were still riding on donkeys as transportation I had a choice to make. I could either be miserable while I lived there or I could fully embrace what Europe offered.
Thankfully, I chose the latter. We as Americans tend towant to tear down and build something we deem bigger, better and more beautiful. This is truly disheartening. Along with the shingles and nails being cast aside this trend is causing us to lose our heritage and culture. Europeans respect their history. They know that even if their home is 300 years old and the brick is a bit crumbly they can still take pride in a freshly swept walk and beautiful window boxes filled with flowers.
Most Europeans only have a few pieces of furniture in each room, preferring quality over quantity. They have a special knack of combining modern masterpieces with timeless classics and family heirlooms. This is something that I aspire to in my own home and also try to encourage in my clients homes.
Of course I must also talk about the flea markets! While living in Germany I tried to go as often as I could. Such treasures! Lovely linens~ fine furniture~ pretty porcelain~ all for a few Euros.
6. Many people spend weeks and months planning the decor for certain rooms in their home. One of the services you offer is “One Day Decorating.”
What is the biggest challenge you encounter in trying to transform a room in such little time, and what has the general reaction been from your clients?
The majority of people I know and meet buy things that they are attracted to and become quite frustrated when they are unable to achieve the look or feel they want their home to have.
So they keep buying more and more hoping that if they just find the perfect piece it will all come together. It is a vicious cycle.
I would say that 95% of the homes I enter into have some pretty accessories, a nice piece of artwork and a few great pieces of furniture. The problem usually lies in how the things are presented. In a one day decorating situation I always begin by completely emptying the room.
Many times it is a matter of editing. I tell the clients that a room evolves like a puzzle: piece by piece. While I love design jobs that start from scratch, there is nothing as satisfying as when a client sees their things coupled with my touch for the first time. The end result validates their choices, their tastes and preferences and ultimately makes them feel very, very good. I have witnessed happy screams, tears of joy, and practically been hugged to death. Everyone deserves to live in a home that is beautiful to them
7. Generally speaking, what are the most common types of people who request your services? Are they busy executives without the time to decorate, or are they people who have the time to decorate, but lack the skills? Or is it both, or neither?
The majority of my clients are women. We as women are so hard on ourselves. Society has created a notion that all women should have a certain knack that enables us to create the perfect home, the perfect life.
Time and time again I hear comments such as “I’ve tried but just can’t seem to get things right.” or “I just have so many commitments and responsibilities I don’t know where to begin.” We each have been blessed with certain gifts. Thankfully, those talents are all different. That is what makes each of us unique. I would like to let you in on a few secrets about me. I am an ok cook, I am lousy at math and truth be told most of my houseplants die. I try not to dwell on those facts and instead choose to focus on other gifts I have been blessed with. One is that I can take an ordinary room and make it extraordinary.
When I arrive at someone’s home who is feeling discouraged it is my hope that I don’t just create a beautiful room, but that I can also help my client truly feel good about their self
8. You have some lovely pictures on your website of you with various HGTV hosts. What is your favorite show on HGTV, and who are your favorite HGTV hosts and decorators?
Many people are surprised when I admit I don’t have extended cable in my home, which means I have no HGTV. However, when traveling, I sometimes indulge in a mini HGTV marathon. I must admit that I get a bit frustrated with the majority of the shows. The viewer is not made aware that a behind the scenes crew of perhaps ten to twenty people made the “one hour makeover” possible.
I also have found that the shows do not include the labor and installation fees that would be applicable for the 10-20 workmen in the “total cost” of the makeover. This is a huge disservice to the viewer, who may not consider this when drawing up their own decorating or remodeling budget.
I also wonder about the quality. The mother in me tries to imagine how a plywood table used in a quick design would hold up over time in a house with young children. But, I do love Candice Olson. She has great style and is immensely talented. Vern Yip is very well educated in the area of architecture and design and I think this comes across in his designs.
I also always watch “Design Star”. Luckily, HGTV airs the episodes online. The challenges are so creative and I love to see how the designers respond to them.
Wow! Laura gave us some fantastic information here, and I hope some of you are able to incorporate some of her ideas in your own homes.
Laura is available to help you with your decorating needs. To see the services she offers, along with her prices, be sure to check out Arranging Elegance. To read her blog, check out Decor to Adore.
Thanks a million to Laura for giving such thoughtful answers to our questions. There’s a lot more helpful advice on her blog, and not only that, Laura is a very nice person who was a joy to work with. Thanks Laura!