FIND YOUR DECOR’S “LITTLE BLACK DRESS”
Every woman knows the value of having a “little black dress”. You know that one dress that looks great on you. The one that is a classic and can work for almost any occasion. It can be dressed up or down. You can wear it to brunch and the office and out to dinner. It’s the one piece in your wardrobe you cannot live without. Well, we can think of our home the same way we think about fashion. We all should have a “little black dress” in each room of our home. Let me explain…
Welcome to PRACTICALLY SPEAKING! Today we are talking about having something in each room in our house that does for decor what a little black dress does for our wardrobe! It’s that wall color or piece of furniture that becomes a fabulous foundation to build a room around! It works with a multitude of styles and can be layered for a different look!
My living room’s little black dress is the sofa and the wall color. So as we talk about a rooms foundational piece I’m sharing images of my living room in different years and seasons.
Let’s find our decor “little black dress”.
About 6 years ago I decided to turn from my very Tuscan inspired home decor to a more neutral, classic look. One that as styles change I can add trendy accessories and keep my home still looking fresh and updated.
You may love French decor so your decor little black dress might be beautifully curved furniture that will work with other French decor you collect.
Or you may love Tuscan style or lots of pattern or mid-century modern. The style you love is not as important as finding that one thread that pulls all the furniture together and can be a springboard for adding new and exciting things to your home.
My neutral walls and furnishings can be dressed up and down. Color can be layered into a room for a different look. Texture is my home’s best friend! Every season can be celebrated and can easily be added to a neutral space. Just like my favorite little black dress in my closet, neutral colors in my home become a backdrop for inspiration and is the foundation on which I build my entire home!
Here are a few ways you can find your home’s little black decor dress…
LOOK AT YOUR WALLS AND YOUR FLOORS
Often the color we paint our walls or the rugs we have on our floors give us big clues about our decor anchors. What color did you paint the walls in a room? Why did you choose a rug for a specific room?
Many time we will find a color on our walls or in our carpets that work as our room’s little black dress. Can you change up your room to work around the wall and rug colors?
My walls are my living room’s little black dress for sure! The rug is not… it’s an accent!
LOOK AT BIG FURNITURE PIECES
Another way to find our room’s little black dress is to look at the furniture we choose. Often our largest furnishings like a sofa or the bedding on our bed will tell us what we build the rest of the room around! Things like pillows and throws and accent chairs and ottomans and curtains should be supporting pieces. They are like adding a gorgeous broach or a pashmina to dress a black dress up. Or like adding a jean jacket and booties to dress a black dress down.
Accent pieces can be changed up to keep a room fresh and exciting but should not be what anchors your room!
LOOK AT ART
Although I don’t use art as a little black dress in my home lots of people do! Art becomes the inspiration for a room and is what holds the decor together. Pulling the color, form or feel of the artwork from the art into the room can make art a foundational feature.
Now let’s talk about not having an anchor or foundational piece that become your decor little black dress.
What if you cannot find one “thing” that is foundational to a room and can be used to build new looks around? That may be why a room does not feel quite right to you. Or this room might be hard to decorate or find the perfect accents to go in it. It also might be stuck in a look that is decades old.
My gable room, a guest room here at StoneGable, has never felt quite “done” or “complete”. It had beautiful furniture and I upscaled and painted a dresser to give it a new look. The bedding was fresh and I made some pretty curtains to go in the room. But it looked “off” to me!
It took me awhile to understand why it just wasn’t working for me.
Finally, after spending a night in the room I determined that it was the wall color that was not working! The rest of the furnishings and accents in the room could be changed up but the dusty peachy wall color just was not me. It was too dated.
We are now planning to repaint that room. I’m love living with the neutral paint color Sonnet by Benjamin Moore and I’m giving the gable room a fresh coat of Sonnet paint! It will become my room’s little black decor dress. Sonnet is so much more fresh and versatile, for me, than peach.
How important is finding your rooms “little black dress”? So important! It will create a room that can be changed and updated and looks fresh and interesting by just changing the accents in it.
Fashion and home decor have a lot of crossover! It’s important to understand the concept of a little black dress when it comes to decorating our homes.
You might like to follow me on Pinterest and see what I’m finding to pin every day HERE.
I have a basic set of white French decorations (pitchers in different sizes, vases, painted jars, little angels statues, painted books, candle holders, trays) that I mostly made or hacked myself and I use them according to my needs. They are highly adaptable to every season, you just have to use your imagination and beautifully style them.
This set is definitely my little black dress! 🙂
Have a lovely day,
INTERESTING about the ‘little. Black dress’ for your room.
Your seasonal accessories pics are great. I understand what you are saying.
Thank You. –?LInda
p.s. Can’t wait for the Christmas session.
My “little black dress” is the beautiful Italian leather sofa and chair we purchased from Interiors several years ago. The warm, rich brown leather is the foundation of my country/primitive-farmhouse style. Walls and carpet are neutral. Found antiques such as a large chest serves as the media center. Barnwood accents complete the look. Thanks for making me think about what my “little black dress”is in our home.
What a great way to think of decorating, personally I love neutral colours but then my contradictory self always loves a pop of colour too! The hardest part for me is mixing inherited antique furniture with other pieces to try and keep it fresh and simple, because the antiques are dark wood.
Thank you for your post today. I hope I can apply this concept in decorating my home. I love your home!
An antique side board in our living room is the focal point item that sets the tone for the rest of the room.
I love seeing how you have accessorized your “little black dress” living room over the years by switching out rugs, pillows, lamps, and tchotchkes! It really drives home the idea of a basic being elevated to different levels! But how do you conquer the issue of multiple holes in the walls when you move those pieces around??
We are so used to that Pam! I have a tube of spackle and a touch up can of paint. Have you heard of “MY PAINT SAINT”? Just perfect for touch ups. Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/2dcF5dI
Works like a charm!
Well, just wanted you to know, we used “Sonnet”, on your recommendation, and we love it. It works so well. Can’t wait to finish the rooms!
My next home/condo will have a neutral pallet. LOVE because you can add any color to jazz it up.
My piece in my living room is the rug!
I hope my mansion in heaven looks a lot like your beautiful home!
It will be so so much better, Candy!
Thoughtful advice and gives one a starting point when decorating a room. I do like your wall color. I used BM Palace White in my kitchen , eating area and back Hall. Love the way it looks, like soft candlelight.
This really makes sense! I’ve determined I need a new couch!
I’m trying for a mirror in every room and need to look for the black dress in each room too
Thanks for your tips on finding and utilizing our “little black dress” when decorating our homes – such good, practical advice! Enjoy the weekend……
I have been following you for along time. And Love, Love,Love your blog. My granddaughters started a blog, and they just love it, and have so much to share. Thanks you, for all the Wonderful and Beautiful ideas!
Robin, Welcome to the StoneGable family! We just love love love that you are here too!
Good morning Yvonne from Prince Edward Island in Canada! You are absolutely right about making a decision with the neutral tones for walls and you sofa. I have a neutral sectional and two neutral arm chairs, and the walls are neutral as well. The versatility that comes with having made those décor choices is plentiful. Just as you change out your accessories and art as the seasons and your moods change, so do I. It is all possible because of the neutral décor. My husband actually had to build a closet to enclose the pillows and covers that I have. I know under his breath he must curse me when he gets the bins of decorations out from in the basement so I can put that one special piece out on the coffee table or in the shelving. I try to do a down/and or/feather pillow insert whenever possible, but darn it those pillows that have the poly-fill still seem to end up trotting through the doorway occasionally. I just wish there were more options our there for just the pillow covers. I am truly a pillow and décor addict, but luckily I love it! Thank you again for brining some sunshine to all your readers in the form of your blog.
Have a wonderful day, Pamela
Pamela! You certainly brought sunshine to me today! Thanks for your very sweet comment!
Hi Pamela – greetings from Ontario! I definitely agree with you re pillow covers – they’re as rare as “hen’s teeth” here too! Just impossible to find so it will be off to a fabric store soon then I’ll make those easy Envelope type pillow covers (the kind that the back overlaps). There are SO many more decor shopping options in the States with free shipping to boot! Wish it were so in Canada. One of these days, I hope to return to your pretty Province!!
For 20 years we lived primarily in military quarters with white walls. Our coffee latte couch was the anchor for our main living space. I loved that sophisticated couch like the little black dress in my closet. Art was the supporting cast.
I know about white wall in base housing too!
My walls, couches, rugs are neutral, but I have a chair, ottoman, round tablecloth and a few pillows covered in a sage, peach and coral print (which I love), but it limits my choices …. after seeing your decor, I wish I had not interjected that print . Live and learn as they say!
You are so right about the “little black dress”. I read in a decorating magazine many years ago, that every room needs a bit of black to anchor the room, or it will appear to float. You’ve done an amazing job of using bits of black. Your home looks warm and inviting.
My little black dress is my wonderful fireplace in my main living room. It has a mantle that allows me to display mercury glass items. I also have a fine strand of clear lights that light up the glass.
May I please move in for the weekend?? ?
Simply love the wreath on the gold leaf mirror!! ?
The Little Black Dress. Keep it simple, however gives you the option to dress it up a tad, less is more here or if you want to make a statement just pearls applies here, We do not live in a neutral world, nature is full of colour in all seasons. I like to add a bit of colour here and there, lets say it is the makeup that you apply with a light hand.
I say do not be afraid of colour, just know when to stop.
Good advice too, Velda!!
Good Morning Yvonne…What a clever and thoughtful post…love the pics…I am interested in your 3 tier wood tray stand placed in between your bubble chairs…please advise if it’s available and from where …a thousands thank yous for all you do !…..Smiles…..Anne
My “little black dress” in my rooms have been the wall color and the largest piece of furniture in the room. As with any little black dress that gets worn throughout many years, it too needs to be replaced with a new little black dress. I am working on replacing my rooms “little black dresses” (paint color). I have always gravitated towards earthy, neutral colors. I have just recently changed my first rooms color to a beautiful gray with a cool undertone. I absolutely love it (and thankfully, so does the rest of my family)! My new neutral “little black dress”. Now on the the rest of the rooms! And you are very right, Yvonne. If you don’t have an anchor in your room, or it isn’t the right anchor for you, the room just doesn’t feel right. And yes, sometimes it takes spending the night, or day, in that room to figure out what is “wrong” with the room. Yet again, you have provided good reading to go along with my hot cup of morning coffee! Thank you!
I am making my walls neutral shades of gray and am loving it. That would be my little black dress. Now I will be able to change accessories and furniture to add color and interest. Thank you for this post and I will definitely pin this.
Loved today’s post. I seem to learn so much from your decorating advice from the smallest touch to whole room ideas. I was wondering if you would do a post on lamp shades ..size, dos and don’ts and how to make over your existing lamps. That would be helpful as I am struggling with a pair of lamps and how to update them. Thanks!
What a unique way to compare a little black dress to your home décor. In our great room it would be our chandelier and also our antique glassware in our built in glass shelves. I need to assess the other rooms for that little black dress look!
As always such an inspirational post!
Your post today really got me thinking. After several recent moves, what are my foundational pieces? Thinking on that, I then saw the pieces that I use as accents. Thanks!
Great post and the color is just perfect!
My den is within striking distance of “right” so I’ll try your black dress suggestions
My little black dress is my tweed love seat and my neutral paint colors of grays creams and beiges. I love being being able to change up my accessories every season to add life and variety. Thanks for you beautiful pictures and lovely ideas.
The white walls in my house, along with white trim leave some people aghast, but I simply love the clean palette! It is so easy for me to flow from one season to the next and accessorize with whatever colors and decor make me happy.
This was an eye opening post . I am now looking at each room in my home in a new way . Thank you for the new perspective!
Love, love love your style and style-tips. Decorating is my passion , too! In attempting to identify the little black dress in our family room, I am unable to get past the big black elephant there….the 55″ TV! Since media center cabinets have been replaced by flat screens….????…..help???
Love your beautiful home, wanting to make mine neutral now too. Please tell us where you got your beautiful candleholders and the beautiful star decor.
Love all of your home.
Hi Marlee, Thanks for your sweet comment! The star was from a Spring Fair that was local and I get my candleholders here:http://rstyle.me/n/b2emb5b6by7
I just love your home and decorating style! I’m not sure what my “little black dress” is yet, but from looking at your sofa, I know I want a new neutral one!
I love your style. I have been looking for a sofa for a while now can you tell me where you got yours .
Hi Anita, I got my sofa from Pottery Barn. It is a down wrapped foam core and the fabric is one of their Performance fabrics in “flax”.
Your “little black dress” idea make so much sense! Thank you! It give a new perspective on things~!
Once again.. A thoughtful approach to fresh up your home.
I swear I learn something great from you every day. Thank you!
I definitely need a “little black dress” for my family room. I’m in the process of searching for a new sofa and once I find the perfect one I think I’ll have the look I’m aiming for. I’ve already painted my family room so I at least have that step done!
Black and white is so classic! Love it!
I am so happy my friend told me about you blog. I enjoy decorating and you do a wonderful job of explaining the process. Much of the process is a feeling you get from a room, an item, or them home and this is difficult to translate.
I too can’t wait to see Christmas in your home!
Hi Kathy! Welcome to the StoneGable family!
My “little black dress” would have to be my Barrymore medium brown love-seats and my Chinese screen. I always work around those items. Right now, my accents are an icy-silvery/blue which looks great with the seating. Another unexpected color is a muted greyed-down lavender (not a pastel lavender but a dull lavender). I found that quite by accident … I had removed and laundered the lavender cushion covers but hadn’t taken them back to the bedroom where they normally are. After they dried, I had simply tossed them in the living room until I had time to put them back in the bedroom – when to my amazement, I saw how nice the color looked against the brown! Who knew?!! 🙂
Great post, very helpful. Thanks
Dear Yvonne, your calling a basic piece of furniture or walls ‘the black dress’ is well said. I have a highly patterned sofa and loveseat that will be in need of recovering soon. For years I had a weekly Bible study group in my living room and my fabric choice for these pieces hid any stain from drinks and food. I’m not leading those classes in my home now however I am having a hard time pulling the trigger on a light and solid ‘black dress’ upholstery fabric. Your thoughts are helping me lean that direction. You are an inspiration all around!
This is a great post! I had never thought of thinking about “the little black dress” of a room. As I was reading it, I looked around this room and decided my little black dress is definitely the paint color. I jumped on the gray train and painted it Grey Owl (BM) I love it! It’s calming and reminds me of the ocean nearby. I am also learning to” mix my metals” which just warms the room up even more. I am finally beginning to love my home!
Wonderful way to frame the thought process! Thanks!
I currently have couches I don’t love but are good enough for now. What I do always love are the original windows and trim in the main living areas of our ’20s Craftsman.
The BM “Sonnet” color you have chosen will be beautiful. I too prefer a neutral color for large spaces like a living room. I guess my fireplace, large area rug and white pillars anchor my living room. I so enjoy reading your blog and seeing photos of your home. SG are my initials too!
I would love to have a solid light colored sofa and chairs! My sons and husband have been the reasons for not making that choice just yet. I don’t see how I can possibly keep them clean like yours! They are all outdoors men, and well, you get the picture.
I can still dream! Maybe one day …..
Pinned.. Love your evolving style. Wish I could find mine. I seem to do good at first and then get stuck in a rut..
Patricia (NC Coast)
Growing up we had a white couch in our “living room”. Everyone thought that was such a crazy piece of furniture to have living in the country with 6 people in the home. I absoutly loved that white couch and my mother paired it with two royal blue chairs. I still long to have a white couch in my home some day as my “little black dress.” They have come a long way with fabric and I believe my next purchase will be the white sofa, paired with royal blue chairs. I never got tired of those colors.
Your calming choice of neutrals showcase the elegant beauty of your table lamps and mirror! I love how it gives you so many colors choices to add during the various seasons!
I love your living room. The zebra rug adds a certain touch that I would never think of doing.
What a great way to express a decorating fundamental. I like your choice of paint for the walls and can see from the photos that you can easily change your accent color.
Adore your style Yvonne. Great advice. I love neutral walls and furnishings, because I am one to always change things with the season, and sometimes (well, a lot of times) on a whim. I think having a neutral base (little black dress) is also money saving as items can be moved from room to room to create an entirely new look without breaking the bank.
While our walls are neutral they are a bit darker than I’d like. Now that our girls are grown, we’d like to lighten them up a bit. I was looking at Pale Oak, but after seeing your pictures need to pick up a sample of Sonnet. It looks beautiful.
LOVE this LBD piece – and the use of neutral colors allowing for versatility. Every wall in my house is neutral colored except for my bathroom, which I recently painted a soothing, pretty, icy blue. I love it because that is where I start my day every day, getting ready, and where my thoughts and plans for the day come together. Still working on the finishing touches but it is a room that cleanses, relaxes and inspires me :o)
I am hoping to paint my family room this Fall and will have to take a look at BM Sonnet. I have used BM Revere Pewter and Shenendoah Taupe in my home and I love the colors!
Love this advice – I think my LBD is also my couch and wall color – both light neutral colors that I absolutely love. Beautiful photos – your home is a source of inspiration for my evolving style!
That’s it! Thank you for putting a name to the wow factor for a room! I love this concept to give me a vision for where to go and choosing what when changing my rooms around. Whether for a season or redoing for a new look.
Yvonne, you have such a gift with words so refreshing fun and of course always informative. Sharing little secrets and tips of decorating ideas is a bonus to all…
Your living room always looks so pretty. I love all the ways you can decorate it !
As usual a very informative post! I think my “lbd” is my sofa and also my wall color, which is a neutral tan called Latte by SW. I really like grey as neutral! But in order for me to paint in grey, I would probably have to start from scratch.
You are so clever! I “get” it! – Brilliant! I love a neutral wall color- it can really set the whole feel of the room. For me texture is also a universal touch that is always right in my decor. I also wanted to point out that for me “the little black dress” in my home IS BLACK- it’s the perfect statement!
After looking for years, I finally found the perfect bench style sofa. That “little black dress” has changed the whole direction of our decor yet is allowing me to weave it in with inherited rugs, furniture and treasured accent pieces.
Your great post has helped me more clearly define that. 🙂
Great tutorial on the value of a neutral backdrop. Your photos certainly demonstrate the total shift a room’s decor can make with a change of accessories.
Very informative and tho’t-provoking post, Yvonne. I am having a really hard time pulling my living room together into a visually pleasing space. After reading your “little black dress” post I think I am seeing that perhaps my wall color, which is a very, very light shade of dusty rose–nearly white and what I tho’t was neutral enough–is wrong. Plus, all the furniture is too bland–grey, fern green, some blue, etc. It just doesn’t feel or look pulled together. But I now have a new way to think about it with the “little black dress” concept, thanks to you!
Re-reading the description that I just wrote of my living room, I am struck by how awful this room sounds! Somehow just putting it into words gives it a more definitely”blah” image! Wow, I feel like I can approach it with more clarity and that I better get cracking because what I have now is UGLY! Thanks, again!
Interesting Perspective, I’m going have to find my little black dress in every room in my house.
In our new home, I’m going with a neutral pallet just so I have options for decorating. My “Agreeable Gray” walls and light colored cabinets, sofas and bedding will be the ‘little black dress’ for my rooms. This post really articulated my thoughts. Thanks sor sharing!
What a great post! I never looked at decor from that angle. I have a living room that I just can’t get right. I will have to look it with fresh eyes and then ready, set, go!
I just KNEW that you were a military wife!! So, as one military wife to another, I completely understand your concept of the little black dress, but just never thought about applying the same concept to my home. However, I am starting today to “black dress” my home! Love your blog! BTW! I grew up in York!
My black dress is falling in love with you fabulous home. Wondering how I can acquire a similar look for my study/library.
Thank you Yvonne for sharing the story of your wonderful experiences in Jerusalem. Perfect timing for your story since this evening begins Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year for our friends and God’s children in Israel. May this New Year be healthy and happy and may we each be living stones in God’s plan.
I’m trying to decide on the colors for my walls and hardwood floors in our new downsized house. I do know that I want neutral everything in this house with pops of color in the accents. I just might try the sonnet! Thanks for the tips!
Your home wears that “little black dress” so well!!!
Thanks so much for the practical ideas. They really make sense.
Awesome blog regarding the “little black dress”… Got me looking at each of my rooms with different perspective!
Yvonne, thanks for the great post! Love your ideas! I am new to your blog but am really enjoying it!
We are just deciding on a “light” paint color for our Great Room.
I love your wall color of choice! I too was into Tuscan a few years back and I’m feeling itchy for an update. I found your post inspirational. I love your choice of dark gray painted items. I have a variety on unmatched antiques that makes my decor a bit hodge podge. I’m wondering if I should screw up my courage to choose a deep contrasting color to paint them to tie things together. It’s just that we spent so much time refinishing back in the day! How do you feel about painting antiques?
Goodness, that question is a tough one. If it is a “good” antique I say don’t touch it!!!! It if is “vintage” or an antique in less than great condition and it’s not valuable then get out your paintbrush Lois. I recommend AMY HOWARD PAINTS. They are amazing!
I have several unmatched antiques in my home too, but I feel that they give my rooms a more curated look. I have straight lines and curvy lines, and different woods. Somehow, they all work together, IMO. My friends tell me how warm and inviting my house is, and I’m so flattered because I’ve just done it all myself over the years. I wonder if you could try moving your pieces around, or maybe enhancing them a bit. I think it’s great to paint or enhance vintage pieces–I have a few I’m going to fix up a bit, but I’m not sure I’d make them all match.
My little black dress for each room is an antique piece of furniture.
Where can I get your black end tables? They would be perfect for my livingroom!
Hi Karen, check Ethan Allen that’s where I found them.
What a nice comparison to the “little black dress”, I’m going to study my home and see what my “dress” is……….love your home – look forward to your message each day and our home is looking more and more like yours….just love everything you do. Thank you for being my e-friend…..:-))
Your podcasts cheer me enormously. After “meeting” you, Yvonne, I have reupholstered an antique couch and wingback chair with a creamy textured fabric. I swapped out my Oriental wool rug for a wool one with shades of blue and cream. It was a great buy from Home Goods, and a little out of my comfort zone, but it can be used elsewhere in my home. I am enjoying the new lighter look. Walls throughout are similar to yours. Love accessorizing with color for the seasons, as basics are now neutral. Learning so much from you. One little tip…check out “color me beautiful” to discover which season you are. We can all wear colors, just different shades. Such a $$$$ saver for those of us on a budget and most of what we wear in our “season” goes beautifully with everything else, including accessories. Have a wonderful weekend.
Yvonne, you are incredible.
I have read many blogs and I usually leave them after I read a couple updates. Yours I have not left and I keep reading more and more. Thank you!
You are a women that knows what she likes and how to get it and then shares it beautifully on her blog.
Very impressed! Every post makes you think and look at your room from different perspectives.
Keep up the wonderful ideas.
THANKS SO MUCH, Sandra! How nice. I share what I love to inspire others. I hope you leave StoneGable full of creative ideas for your home and a renewed energy to do it!
Love your posts…Ever consider changing floor color? Seems a bit red for the style you are going for….just a thought! Enjoy Spring!
Yes, it is! Chestnut. But our home is 4,000 square feet of hardwood floor and it is just too big of an expense. The flooring looks redder in photos. I’m okay with it. We all have these kinds of decor issues. And I’m not willing to spend the $$$ on the floor. Hope my logic clears up you question.
Love your design eye. Changing room elements seasonally is fun and an uplifting project. Thank you for sharing and advising!
You are so welcome Debble!
I follow you on Pinterest and always appreciate your tips.
The picture over the white sofa is just darling. The black/white brownstones on a canal with green topiary’s.
If I may ask – where was that purchased? I would love it over my fireplace.
Hi Sherry, We love this picture too! It’s by Daniel Kessler. You can see it here:https://kesslerart.com/product/paris-on-the-seine/
In our “right size” new build, I just wanted to simplify, simplify! I went all thru 2100 sq feet with like materials. All thru, in all rooms, the walls are SW Pure White, the trim is the same, different sheen, and all the cabs are the same in yet a different sheen with a small amount of glazing. We love ceramic tile & installed white subway tile in all 3 bathrooms & kitchen & laundry room. People would come in during the build & say, “It’s a lot of white”! Then the wood floors went down, stuff started to come in, & I added yet more white in the form of floor to ceiling curtains, lovely linen look, in almost all the rooms! It has given me a base to work from. That neutral color combo of white & wood is my little black dress! Love the way you named that!
Sound so lovely, Kathleen!