Like haircuts, wardrobes, and workout routines, even the best-laid living room plans could use an update every now and then. Which is why we’ve spent the last month eagerly awaiting the results of the Rue magazine makeover of San Diego’s Make Good boutique, the winner of the American Express OPEN and Etsy Wholesale Source Small boutique refresh sweepstakes. After meeting with the shop’s owners and discussing their dreams for the space, the creative team at Rue dreamed up a slew of affordable fixes to make the shop, which specializes in locally sourced handmade goods, even more inviting and inspiring.
The good news for everyone who didn’t win? Many of the changes Rue recommended for Make Good stemmed from design concepts that can be applied to any space, whether it’s retail or residential, big or small, new or old.
Read on for five ways to give your own home (or boutique, or workspace) a boost — and scroll down to see before-and-after photos of the shop!
What would you like to change about your home’s decor this year? Tell us in the comments!
1. Home in on your style with a digital inspiration board.
Every good room design starts with a solid understanding of your style (or the aesthetic you’re aiming for). In addition to filling out a design Q&A, Make Good owners Sophia and Jon created a Pinterest board for the editors at Rue to reference and riff on. “The board included plenty of inspiration images with lots of notes, which allowed us to quickly find reoccurring themes in their aesthetic,” says Kelli Ryder, Rue‘s Managing Editor. “And getting a visual example of what they loved was also the quickest way to see what they felt wasn’t working.”
2. Start from the ground up.
“A beautiful rug can absolutely transform a room,” Kelli says. Whether the goal is to create cohesion in a multi-use space or to visually segment sections of an open layout, floor coverings can work wonders. A bonus for Make Good? The rugs Rue recommended covered large sections of the unappealing concrete floor the couple had painted gray early on — and always regretted. “It was our worst — and most difficult to correct — design decision when we opened the store,” Sophia says. “We’ve lived with this mistake for the last five years.”
3. Create a neutral ground for your prized possessions.
“Since there are so many different artisans and styles reflected in the shop’s inventory, we suggested cleaning up the displays and choosing shelving that would be more cohesive,” Kelli says. “This is the same concept for folks who love to decorate with color – you need neutral, grounding pieces for it to work well.”
4. Pare down.
Sometimes it’s not about what you add in, but what you take away. Removing unnecessary objects is key for bringing a sense of calm to a home or a retail space. (Bonus: It doesn’t cost a cent!) “First, we removed any display pieces that weren’t being used, and then we moved all the shop’s art pieces higher up the walls — which helps to reduce visual clutter while drawing the eye upwards and maximizing the vertical space of the shop,” Kelli says.
5. Touch up your paint job.
“The shop’s original design had a few different colors on the walls,” Kelli says, “which gave us the opportunity for a simple makeover with a few buckets of paint. We suggested having only one accent wall so that the space felt more open and less cluttered.” If you, too, have gone crazy with jazzy accent walls in multiple shades, taking most — or all — of the walls back to one color is a great way to refresh a room.
All shop photos by Tommy McAdams.
Valerie Rains is an editor at Etsy.