Your skill level and the complexity of your interior décor projects will help you determine whether you need to call in a professional. Erika Bonnell, owner and creative director of Sterling-based Erika Bonnell Interiors, shares the questions to ask yourself before you pick up a hammer, along with her favorite décor ideas.
“The most important thing when it comes to home projects, whether they be small or large, is to plan properly,” says Bonnell. “Most of the décor projects you can try on your own are new to someone doing them, so getting in and doing some research is very important.”
Even the seemingly easy projects can be misleading. “You don’t realize that you needed more tools than you thought, or more time or money than you thought,” Bonnell says.
The key steps: Figure out the task. Come up with a list of tools and materials. Make sure you know your budget.
Nailing the Gallery Wall
“Make sure you frame your pieces first,” says Bonnell. Then, assess whether you have the right materials. Picture-hangers must correspond to the weight of your framed pieces. You’ll also need some brown paper, a pencil, and a tape measure.
Bonnell says picture-hanging is something most people can do. “I think it starts getting very complex when you have a set of three, or you’re trying to do a whole gallery wall of art,” she says.
Her suggestion: “Cut out a brown paper template of the actual piece of art and tape it on the wall, so that you can make sure your placements are correct.” Once you trace each framed art piece, arrange the faux frames on the wall, marking where each picture-hanger will go.
Hotel-Style Coffee Bar
“Making an in-room coffee bar is one way to get your coffee going without having to go to the kitchen,” says Bonnell.
A coffee bar in the bedroom doesn’t require major built-in components, she says. “You could use a piece of furniture, like a chest or cabinet, to house the Keurig and the little functional aspects. You could put in a track on the inside of the cabinets so you can have a little pull-out trash component. You could do floating shelves above for your cups or mugs for a hotel vibe.”
Pantry or Closet Refresh
Looking to revamp your pantry or linen closet? Bonnell says adding a pop of color with paint or an unexpected pattern with wallpaper creates a more custom look.
Options for these spaces extend beyond organization, Bonnell says. “Those wire shelves can actually be covered with pieces of wood to create more of a wood-shelf look and feel. And you could wallpaper or paint the walls and create an accent just within that space,” she says. “You can add some fun little lighting in there, and you can create a really cool ‘peek-a-boo’ experience that when anyone opens that door, it’s almost a visual surprise.”
Ask for Interior Décor Help
When that nagging feeling sets in that something is just a bit off with your interior décor project, Bonnell says you should stop. “Sometimes, you just know that the minute you start hammering, stuff is going to go downhill. It’s probably best to stop and call in someone to help you,” she says.
“Let’s say you’re doing applied moldings on the wall, which is one of the more difficult projects, and you realize that there’s no way you can manage the project on your own,” says Bonnell. “Call in a professional.” Don’t worry if you don’t make headway; a designer will be able to do more with the project the less you try to correct your mistakes.
“Again, if you can, stop before you start the actual physical part of what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. That would be ideal,” Bonnell says.
This story originally ran in our June issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.