Decorating 101 from 5Days, 5 Ways

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Hey Guys!! Decorating Week here at Hating Martha is in full swing!!
Be sure to stop by each day for a great guest and Thursday…my living reveal!!
Today Abbie from 5 Days, 5 Ways is my guest.
This girl is sweet, funny, talented, and a wonderful blogger!
All while being a mother to 3 soon to be 5!!
She is a constant inspiration!

Her decorating style is fun, cheerful, and classy and I love her home! She proves that decorating doesn’t have to cost alot!

Without further talking or spouting….

  Hi there, guys!

My name is Abbie from:

 five days five ways | because every day is different


—where I literally blog about a little bit of everything, with a theme for every day of the week (Try-it Tuesday: tutorials, Wardrobe Wednesday: fashion, Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL: where I feature YOU in all your awesomeness at my weekly linky party, etc. etc.).

And I am super-excited to get to drop by Hating Martha to meet you guys today.

But I’m not gonna lie.

When Janel asked me to post about some of my best decorating tips/tricks, I chuckled a little (okay, I might have had myself a good, loud laugh actually).

Don’t get me wrong. I was terribly flattered!

But there’s just something ironic about being asked to tell others how to decorate their homes when you spent 22 years of your life pretty much convinced that you a) couldn’t care less about home décor and b) probably couldn’t decorate anything to save your life even if you did care.

Of course now, designing rooms and sprucing up my house-in-constant-progress are two of my favorite things. Because once my husband and I bought our first home as newlyweds, the decorating floodgates burst wide open, and this girl, who was a little afraid that she was lacking the house-sprucing gene entirely, hasn’t been able to get them even halfway shut again since.

Okay, enough confusing metaphors. Let’s get down to the practical stuff.

And that would be my tips/tricks for creating a stylish, comfortable home without spending a fortune (or even a fraction of one).


Think outside the box

Sure, things look better in threes. Symmetry is good. And light-colored walls do open up a room and make it look bigger.

But sometimes, things look even better when there are 20 of them. And your nightstands are extra-charming when they don’t match and aren’t even the same height. And an accent wall of pure black can bring so much drama to a room.

Decorating guidelines are helpful, useful things.

But (cliché alert), rules were made to be broken.

When I couldn’t find a stair-runner I liked, I bought these patterned rug-runners, and my husband spliced/stapled them together up the length of the stairs, which gave me a custom stair-runner that I actually love for way less than than the price of the ugly prefab variety.

I made an awning for my kitchen window because curtains and shades just weren’t quite the vibe I was looking for.

Heck, I even painted/stenciled my washing machine with polka-dots, which may sound a bit loony but has overwhelmingly been my most popular blog project to date (with 45,000 repins on Pinterest).

I probably wasn’t “supposed” to do any of those things.

But I did anyway, and you know what?

The world did not stop spinning, and the sky has yet to fall.

Sometimes doing the unexpected is only way to go.


Do what you love

This little piece of advice goes hand in hand with #1 because the primary reason for creative, rule-breaking design is the designer’s desire to create a space that she really owns.

After all, if you love color but paint all your walls white and only accessorize with beiges, creams, and wood-tones because that’s what popular at the time, you may end up with a lovely, soothing room…that you hate!

I love to glean inspiration from others (most of whom are much more talented than I), but ultimately, I choose to decorate with something because I like it, or better yet, love it.

Even if it means that someone else walks in, cocks her head, and says, “Huh. Interesting” (which we all know is code for: “Nasty McAwful. What where you thinking?”).

Thing is, passion in decorating is contagious, and I’ve had plenty of people tell me they love something I’ve done in a room even though they would never have chosen it for themselves (that polka dot washer being a prime example), and I feel the same way when I walk into a room full of pieces and ideas that the owner loves, whether it’s my style or not.

(That stained glass chandelier wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but I love how it picks up on all the other jewel-tones in my entryway).


Secondhand is your friend

Furniture is expensive, y’all.

And so are decorative odds and ends.

You can quickly drop thousands on home décor.


You can take advantage of the incredible deals to be scored on craigslist and at Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrifiting havens, chain and otherwise—and end up with a look you love for at least 50% less.

One of my favorite rooms in my house is my living room, and it’s a perfect example of mixing retail and secondhand to achieve a cohesive look for not too much money:

The couch was new from a furniture store (brand: Corinthian…for a very reasonable $475 including tax, and I LOVE it), and the 10X12 wool rug is Pottery Barn, which at $400, was a ginormous splurge for me (even though I “ebayed” it for about 40% less than the retail), but those larger purchases anchor a room that is almost entirely secondhand otherwise.

Take for example that ottoman (my second most popular project to date) that I made from a craiglist coffee table.

Only $115 total, which looks pretty good when you do a price comparison and find out its retail equivalents are anywhere from $500-$2,000.

Or how about practically every single last one of the decorations on my shelf built-ins and sofa table?

Yup, Goodwill—for an average of $1-4 a piece.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

It doesn’t have to be new to make your space look great.


Use what you have

You’d be surprised what you have lying around your house just waiting to be turned into a fabulous vignette.

Shopping your own house is one of the easiest, most economical (and fun!) ways to do seasonal decorating or give a drab corner a much-needed facelift.

Here’s another shot of my living room sofa/table with a Spring-y update—bright cheery colors, lots of florals…and I didn’t leave my house or spend a penny I hadn’t already.

And, yes, most of those little doodads are either thrifted or deeply discounted as well.


Embrace color

I love color, so this is easy for me, but even if you’re obsessed with neutrals, it’s never a bad idea to add a pop or two—pillows are some of the easiest ways to do this—of at least subdued hues to break up the monotony.

Emily of Jones Design Company does a great job of adding bits of color (yellow is her favorite, and she even has that same Target rosette pillow from the above pics) to her usual palette of whites, creams, grays, and blacks.

I think I’ve already proven my deep and abiding passion for color, but perhaps the best example of it is my kitchen, so I’ll throw a quick shot of that in here as well.

Color galore, right?

If you want to see more of my colorful rooms or read about how we built our house from scratch, be sure to click over and read away.

And don’t forget to say “hi” while you’re at my place.

I love meeting new folks!

Oh, and a huge thanks to Janel for asking me to stop by and blather on about decorating. Her blog is always such a delightful read, and she’s such a talented lady that I count it a true privilege and honor to be here today!


Nellie is the founder of NellieBellie, and takes basically every photograph you've ever seen on this site. She also runs our web design business, the Savvy Sites Administration.


  1. Becca

    June 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    I adore Abbie- and her colorful style! Great feature!
    xo Becca

  2. Bella

    June 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Abbie I love that you are not afraid of color! Your living room is so bright and lively just like you…it’s a perfect fit. Can’t wait to see what you do next girl! See ya Thursday :)

  3. Katherine Landreneau

    June 13, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Thanks, Abbie! Love your style! All you “girls” inspire me to get “movin round” here!!! lol

  4. JaneEllen Jones

    June 13, 2012 at 2:25 am

    I am loving your ideas, attitude and best of all your sense of humor. What have you got to lose by personalizing your furniture and home? I love it and it inspires the heck out of me. Makes me want to tackle things I’d never have thought of. I love thrifted things and color so this was right up my alley. Keep it up.

  5. Gwen

    June 12, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Love a girl that loves color! Still want to paint my sad washer and dryer…

  6. Lauri Ward

    June 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Janel,

    I love your blog and your can-do attitude. Good for you! You have a terrific eye and I really enjoy reading about your approach to DIY decorating. Keep up the great, original work.

    Wishing you continued success,

    Your new fan,
    Lauri Ward
    author, Use What You Have Decorating

  7. Haydee

    June 12, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I’m a repiner of the washing machine too! Love Abbie’s style…terrific tips.

  8. brooke

    June 12, 2012 at 6:25 am

    I love your style abbie! great job and your kitchen OH MY good lord can I live there ..

    Thanks for guest blogging here at hating martha .


  9. Anna

    June 11, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    I am one of the 45,000 who repinned the washer/dryer makeover. I am a new stalker/follower of 5 Days and love the ottoman in your living room.

  10. Kelly @ Eclectically Vintage

    June 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Great tips Abbie – I am a firm believer in all of them! Especially Goodwill shopping and using color!

  11. cassie

    June 11, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    you know i love abbie! i just love her style!

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