In this post: How I used blue and white decor to maintain my parents’ style and make them feel at home when they downsized from a house to a small apartment near family.⇒
When it comes to downsizing, there are people divided at opposite ends of the spectrum.
There are the hoarders who find it impossible to throw anything out. They wind up cramming a full house full of things into a much smaller space. The boxes never get unpacked, or worse, wind up in storage, never to be seen again.
Then there are the clean-slaters. These are the people who like to start from scratch. They decide to update everything, following the latest trends and often find, a few years down the road, that maybe they shouldn’t have gotten rid of that lovely vintage table from Aunt Sally.
Either of these sound familiar?
Well, as it turns out, these are not the only two choices.
It is possible to decorate a new space with some updates, but stay firmly connected to your well-honed personal style. In fact, this is all the more so when decorating a second home.
Perhaps you remember my post about my parents’ move into a new apartment. You can read about what led to the decision in THIS POST, where I also outlined the decor plan for the apartment. Well, today I have the living room reveal to share with you!
*This post was first written 2 years ago and both of my parents have since passed, but this apartment was integral to making their final years immeasurably more pleasant and I look back on it fondly. I’ve updated anything that was stylistically out of date, as the concepts are current.
My parents are well into their 80s with various health problems, not the least of which is my mom’s memory issues. I was told by countless people that a couple their age could not make a move; that if they did move, my mom would need to have everything familiar with her.
But the truth is, with proper planning and an in depth knowledge of their taste and needs, the move turned out to be the best thing that could’ve happened.
Here’s how I decorated their space to maintain their own familiar style, while still incorporating some modern conveniences.
Blue and White Decor
Most essential to their style is mom’s love for blue and white. Perhaps if her style had not been so pronounced, this would have been a lot more difficult. But reading her taste was easy and everything flowed from there.
I began with a white slipcovered sofa, a piece that would peacefully co-exist with her beloved blue and white decor, but was a bit less buttoned-up than their typical tailored sofas. My mom comes from the tradition of not actually sitting on the sofa (yep, not joking!) and this casual plush piece is incredibly inviting.
The slipcovers make the light color workable and the choice of a true white makes it possible to be bleached.
Most of you well know about my passion for small pleasures and I made sure to include as many as possible. My parents come from a generation that didn’t routinely treat themselves to these little luxuries, so I made sure to pepper the apartment with bouquets of fresh flowers.
If not now, when?
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My mom is not a big television fan and in fact, she rarely sits still. Yet she’s always loved fashion and I took advantage of the time of year and stacked the coffee table with a September issue or two. This has proven to be the one thing that engages her when she’s feeling displaced.
The coffee table itself turned out to be a last minute project. I knew the brass and glass would fit her taste, but when the table came in, it was a really cheesy shade of brassy gold. I was crushed that it really was killing the look and so the day before my parents moved in, while the movers and workers were getting the apartment ready, I sat on the floor and painted the table.
There’s not much that a little jar of paint can’t cure…
In the realm of modern conveniences, this is no doubt the largest TV my folks ever had. I’m crazy about the blue sideboard beneath it which made it easy for us to configure their new electronic toys.
(I can’t tell you my delight at having visited the other day, only to find my TV-resistant parents enjoying an evening on the couch with TV blasting! My most sage advice – don’t ask. Just get it. They’ll use it!)
The decorative items that most make the apartment fit my parents style are the blue and white decorative items that can be added to any neutral room. Chinoiserie ginger jars, toile pillows, patterned rug and a lovely blue wool throw were not terribly expensive and are style-defining in this space. The blanket is a must for elderly couples who are somehow cold even as the summer sun blazes outside.
When downsizing, all things must serve a purpose and the pretty blue and white mosaic box secretly houses the television remotes.
Because my parents were not selling their house yet, we bought mostly new furniture. I took pains, as such, to stay on a budget and you can find the sources at the bottom of this post. The gold tables add a bit of warmth to the light and bright decor around them.
A pop of cobalt adds a touch of drama and contrasts so well against the white flowers.
The space serves my parents perfectly. It’s comfortable and uncluttered and addresses their needs, yet still makes my mom feel at home when she sees her favorite blue and white decor. By maintaining her style, the move was less disorienting, and made it possible for them to downsize gracefully.
Stay tuned next week for the bedroom reveal, as well as some details in the other rooms.
And don’t let anyone tell you people in their 80s are too old to move!
And just for fun, here’s mom and dad in their new apartment, doing what they really love to do…
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