A new year offers us the chance to have a new beginning and a fresh start. We hit the gym, eat less sugar and clean the dishes out of the sink every night.
But do you ever take this time to focus on the way you feel in your home? Is “Make Our Home More Us” on the top of your New Year’s Resolutions?
I’m here today to argue that it should be. A few years ago, I brought a pillow home that had this infamous quote from designer William Morris: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
I really took this sentiment to heart. In an industry where everyone is always chasing the next big thing, I decided to focus on what my family liked, regardless of where it fell in pattern and color trends. We like big, bold and colorful. We want our home to be fun since we spend so much time here.
And I want our home to reflect our quirky personalities. Yep, I’ll admit it. We can have some weird ideas. But, those ideas are what make us who we are, so we embrace them instead of fighting them. I don’t take decorating seriously – like at all.
So, how has my style evolved since I embraced William Morris’s creed? I’m glad you asked!
Here was my style circa 2009. The soft, neutral color palettes were all the rage. The world was transforming from Shabby Chic to vintage neutrals, and I went right along with the trend and even created the tutorial for the popular book wreath.
(Be forewarned, there is some very old, very bad photography heading your way. Luckily, my photography skills have evolved over the years, too!)
Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this look, so please don’t think that at all. What I am saying is that this is not the right look for me. It’s very 1993 GAP, if you know what I mean – khaki and denim. I was bored. I needed life and vibrance in a space. But I was scared and this is what everyone else was doing – and I thought everyone else knew better than me. I didn’t trust myself – not even a little tiny bit. So, I just went along with the flow and lived in a very beige world.
The color inside of me just screamed to get out. I embraced our Smoked Turquoise (by Glidden) dining room as the only room in the house that understood me. I took down the heavy silk curtains I hung up in there when we moved into the house and replaced them with drop cloth panels and a valence made of bamboo placemats. Though still neutral, I was starting to explore quirky character.
(See? I promised you some truly horrible photographs!)
Folks, once you let yourself start going down that road of embracing your true self, keep on going. I replaced the neutral shades on the builder’s grade chandelier with some turquoise zebra striped ones. Little by little, my true self was emerging.
And then, I really went into left field by taking down that builder’s grade chandelier and replacing it with one made from plywood and cardboard. This was all back before it was cool.
I have found that the more I allow myself to take risks, the happier I am in my home. I don’t always make choices that I will love for the rest of my life, but the good thing about decorating is that you can change your mind as much as you want to. That kind of thinking led me to this:
And then this:
And I kept on going. Our powder room got a makeover:
As did the kids’ playroom:
Even as I started to working with my beloved bold colors, my style itself came into its own, too. Instead of heavy, glazed furniture, I embraced the clean lines of the midcentury modern esthetic. I don’t want to feel like I live in a time capsule, however, so I learned to mix MCM with other styles for a more eclectic feel. When I first started down that route, it took me a long time to figure out which pieces worked together. Now, I can spot them in a snap. Just like riding a bike, practice makes perfect.
The herringbone wood wall was a huge risk that definitely paid off. Knowing that I could simply remove it if I didn’t like it helped, but most design elements can be easily undone (as long as you aren’t ripping down walls).
As of today, my biggest risk of late may not seem like much of a risk at all to many people, but it was to me. I’m almost finished updating my 3 year-old’s nursery to a big girl room – without painting the walls. I promised my husband when we painted the nursery that the colors would be able to survive the transition, but I secretly wasn’t so sure. But here I am almost finished with the room, and the neutral wall color fades away from the bold furniture pieces and linens I’ve brought into the room.
I have learned a valuable lesson with this room in that a bold wall with these particular furniture pieces may have been too much of a good thing.
If you’ve made it this far, I commend you! And I will also give you some valuable advice that I wish someone would have given me a long time ago. You be you. If you allow yourself to listen to your inner voice and to ignore that scared feeling in the pit of your stomach (when it comes to decorating – not when doing something like jumping off a roof, by the way), you will live in a home that you’ll never want to leave. Embrace the fact that true style does and will evolve (you don’t have mauve and gray in your house anymore, do you?) and that it’s okay and even really exciting. Don’t worry about what your mother, neighbor or the pizza guy may think when you open the front door. You be you, and enjoy the process.
Paint those beige walls blue and throw a yellow blanket over that beige chair. Let’s begin 2014 by making sure that you start living the real you.