I’m SO excited to start our new little Decorating 101 series! I think it’ll be fun to get geeky about the principles behind what makes a room “work.” We’re going to dive headfirst into full-on decor-geek-mode and there’ll be no turning back for any of us.
Before we start digging into the “hows” and the “whys,” I thought it might do us good to have a little sit-down and make sure we’re on the same page, working from the same ideals when it comes to spiffing up our homes. Down in the South, we call this having a “come to Jesus” meeting. (Best served with sweet tea and 90 percent humidity.)
We could also call this post: “Things I wish I could’ve crammed into my thick skull years ago.” You know what’s really about to happen here? I’m about to PREACH to MAH-SELF. Because these are all things I have to remind myself, and the more I embrace them, the more freedom I find in the process. Ya with me? Let’s do this!
I cannot roll my eyes any harder or more emphatically than when I’m watching a design show where the homeowners say their goal in redecorating is to make their friends and neighbors say “wow!” when they walk into the room.
That is NOT the right goal. Don’t make me throw my popcorn at the TV or roll my eyeballs completely out of my head. If you decorate for other people, to impress them and make them think highly of you, you lose. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
1. You can’t please everybody. If your goal is to wow others, you might get a few people who really dig the decisions you make, but most people probably don’t have the same style you do. You just can’t make a room that everyone likes. Even browsing shelter magazines where the rooms are so carefully and thoughtfully put together, I find there are rooms that are “my taste” and others that are “perfect but too stuffy.” You lose control when you decorate for people who don’t live with you, you steal the joy of the process, and you’ll never ever reach your goal.
2. Even if you COULD design a room that would impress your neighbors, you still have to live there. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you’ll be home with no one to impress and only your family, living in the space however it was designed. Don’t give up comfort and joy for that 99 percent just so you can have 1 percent of feeling like you impressed someone.
If the trend is toward gray walls but you just can’t get on board with gray? Don’t try to make yourself like it. Just let go. It’s not for you, and that’s cool. If your favorite bloggers are wrapping their world in chevron but you just don’t get it? This is your official invitation to ignore those trends. And if you’re finding that no one is using red in their homes but you LOVE red, you always wear red and it makes you happy? Please, PLEASE decorate with red. Pretty please.
We’re all at different seasons of our lives. If you’re living with littles whose peanut butter fingers are attracted like magnets to delicate fabrics, take that silk chair you’ve dreamed of and put it in a little corner of your mind where you can dream about it, and know that you can have that silk chair, but maybe this is not the time.
No season lasts forever. There will be time to display ceramic dishes precisely at toddler height. Is this that time for you? If it isn’t, don’t fight the season. You’ll make yourself miserable.
My girl Carrie at Making Lemonade wrote an awesome guest post on this which is worth the read. Learn what you love, and combine that with what works for THIS time in your life, whatever it might be.
I love decorating rules.
There, I said it.
I find it a huge help to know the golden ratio of how big a picture should be above the dresser to look proportionate. The trend is to say, “Just do what looks good to you! Who cares about the rules!” — but as someone who is trying to create a room that I love, this advice always frustrated me. I would think: I want to create something that looks good to me, I’m trying, but I don’t know how. I need guidelines.
We’ll talk about stuff like that. We’ll talk guidelines and use that word interchangeably with “rules,” but these rules will be there to serve you, not the other way around. If you find yourself frustrated by a “rule” and it’s taking the joy out of the process, fahgeddaboutit.
Here’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way a few too many times: the best, lasting decisions are made when you’ve taken your time. I am the queen of getting sick of looking at an empty corner in my home, then rushing out and buying the first thing within my budget that “fits the bill” or “fills the spot.”
Let’s just all agree that there’s no rush in this process. We’ll take our time, find the piece that we love, that makes our heart sing, and not settle for “good enough.” That’s how you end up with a room you love: when you’ve taken the time to consider each thing you add to it, and you know you’re head-over-heels for it. Don’t waste your money on “good enough for now.” Not even if it’s free. It’s not worth it.
With every purchase, we’ll consider: “Do I love it? LOVE LOVE LOVE it? Or just like it a lot? Does it serve the purpose? And does it fit this season of my life?”
I mean this in two different ways.
First: no room is ever “finished,” even if it’s “good enough for now.” Your needs will change, your tastes will change, and you’re always free to move things around just to try, even if you end up not liking the change.
Second: it’s all temporary. Decorating should be fun and it is fun… but it doesn’t matter, not the way people matter. When we’re all long gone, it won’t matter if we created the most beautiful spaces. Don’t spend too much emotional energy hating your sofa or hating your paint color. Keep perspective: a chandelier is just a light, after all. It’s not worth causing friction in your family, or stretching your budget beyond what you can afford.
…Aaaaaand that is me, preachin’ it to myself! I’ve been guilty of all these things and have to remind myself of them many times! Anyone else?
What are your decorating philosophies? Anything specific you want to chat about in this series? We’re in this together, buds!
P.S.: Make sure you check out the rest of the Decorating 101 series right here! And pin this post using the button below so you have this list handy!