This year, we stretched the limits of how we nest—to do so with more ambition, intentionality, and style than we ever have before.
Sarah built and stained her own table, Kenzi got down and dirty with paint and shelves, Amanda wallpapered a room, Leslie transformed her tiny kitchen nook, Alexis proved she's been doing this all along, and—like a true adult—Ali furnished a whole apartment anew. We opened our eyes and ears to design in the world, and we filtered through the fog of advice to settle on the wise words that we could share with you.
What rose to the top? Here are the best things we learned about home design in 2015, from the crafty to the architecturally complex.
- Everyone should own a power drill, and you can acquire one for the price of a modest dinner (another reason to cook!).
- Bigger, fluffier pillows are always a good idea—and you really can't have too many.
- Not all fabrics are created equally, but stick to the natural ones if you're looking for them to be soft.
- The power of a little vintage—from accents to props and tableware—can transform a space. (And here are our tips for finding the best.)
- Framing art doesn't have to be exorbitant—and done right, it can transform even the simplest doodles.
- Pressing leaves is not a grandma craft.
- Houseplants are a necessity—especially when you live in a compact apartment in a concrete jungle—and it's actually possible to keep them alive.
- The right length for curtains requires more consideration than we thought (that is, cafe curtains are too short for bedroom windows and long ones can be tied up)
- Getting rid of stuff is as cathartic as it is additive.
- The clean, seductive lines of Scandanavian and mid-century design aren't going anywhere—and thank goodness.
- Fresh flowers are the quickest way to enliven a space, and they aren't as hard to arrange as we thought they were—just slice off the stem at an angle with a sharp knife, choose structural stems that arrange themselves, and opt for dried flowers when you know you won't keep them alive.
- Use sticks to arrange your flowers, flower frogs to arrange your pens, and flower wire to make a napkin ring out of any herb.
- Starting a collection is as easy as grouping items of a like material and then slowly adding to it.
- Not all shelves have to be made of white brackets and reclaimed wood.
- You can—and should—put up shelves yourself. (Just mount those screws!)
- Unscented candles—even the tall white ones you can snatch up at a bodega—are nice for a dinner party, but some are so good-smelling we can't help but obsess over them.
- If you don't have a fireplace you can buy a mantle off Craig's List, paint it, and pretend.
- Bleach is as powerful a decorative tool as paint.
- White paint comes in a world of shades, from antique-toned yellows to washed out greys and creamy stark whites.
- Old, empty frames make a nice accent to any room, just leaned up against the wall.
- High school chemistry was actually DIY 101.
- Freshening the air in your home can be as easy as simmering eucalyptus leaves, DIY-ing a quick, all-natural spray, or opening a window ASAP.
- Dyeing fabric with natural materials is doable at home—and has shockingly pretty results.
- Everyone feels differently about the best table size, but we can all agree that you should squeeze as many people in as possible.
- You can build a floating copper closet, even in your rental apartment.
- Folding chairs are the dinner party lifesaver, but having guests sit on the floor is an acceptable alternative.
- The best use for a rug, besides stepping on it, is to spread it across the table.
- Your couch can be linen and velvet, pink and grey, worn and new.
- You do not need a fancy bike rack.
- The options for wall coverings are endless.
- When in doubt, dried hydrangeas.
What did you learn from us about home design this year? Remind me in the comments!