For the past couple of years, we’ve lived in rental houses that were dark and painted in that standard beige that a contractor picks out when he doesn’t know what else to do. There’s nothing wrong with a little brown, but seeing it on everything gets a little old. Pair that with the cherry-stained furniture we bought in the first couple years of marriage and everything in our home starts to look monochromatic and blah. Being a very visual person, this has bothered me for quite some time but I’ve been holding out on buying any new furniture or painting some of our existing pieces, knowing that we would eventually leave renting in Oklahoma and move into a place that was our own. Never in a million years did I think we would be back in the home we bought as newly weds. The house that was before I read blogs and before there was Pinterest. You know, the dark ages.
When we first flipped this major junker, we were rushers. And we had to be. The bathrooms were barely functional, the kitchen was a sight for sore eyes, and we were moving walls and looking at the crawl space in the living room. Somehow we birthed our second baby in the middle of all that, so yes. Time was of the essence, and we weren’t the best…um…researchers…at that point. We were extremely frugal, but didn’t take the time to budget more than rough estimates. We wung a lot of projects and stuck to an unearthly amount of neutrals thinking we would sell the house…eventually.
Here we are. We never sold the house and I have 2,100 square feet of neutrals. 🙂 I’ve learned a thing or two since then, and one of them is that you should make where you live for you. Not anybody else. You’re the one who wakes up and looks at the walls in your bedroom every day. You’re the woman who works from home and needs an inspirational office space during nap time. You’re the one who rocks your baby to sleep and nurses throughout the night in that rocking chair. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money, it just means you should make your spaces personal. You want to stencil the walls with hot pink accents? Be my guest. You want to paint your cabinets a mint green and install vintage appliances? Do it. You have a thing for disney movies? Washi tape those Allison and Wonderland quotes all over your walls. I haven’t seen much in interiors that can’t be reversed or diverted another direction, so just go for it. And don’t get hung up on insecurity.
I’ve also learned to be a minimalist. There is so much we think we need, and don’t. We get caught up in what other people have, or what the Parenting magazines say we need in order to raise a baby successfully. And while some of it is super helpful information, most of it is just extra. Extra this. And extra that. And it has to go somewhere in the house. Instead of going out and purchasing something on impulse, saving for the things we truly want to invest in, and living without the things that are unnecessary or we just plain can’t afford, is much more liberating.
I’ve learned to mix old and new. I like it when I walk into a house and it tells a story through artwork on the walls, photographs scattered on suitcases, and interesting architectural pieces that only make sense to the owner. You want to ask questions. Where did you find this? What is this for? What inspired you to paint your staircase green? It creates a space that seems collected over time, not ordered straight out of a catalog and installed in one day. That being said, I’ve learned you also need new and functional pieces that keep the flow and organization of a house running smoothly. Sometimes you might spend a bit more money than waiting to find that perfect piece at Goodwill, but you’ll preserve your sanity when you have a place to set the kids’ shoes as soon as they walk in the door.
Lastly, I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is how God created me. For the longest time, I beat myself up for loving interiors, textures, colors, and making things pretty in general. I come from a very practical family, so I always got the impression they thought I was frivolous and that other people were judging me because I got so much enjoyment out of sprucing up my house and shopping for my next project. Over time, I’ve learned that it has nothing to do with people’s impression of me, and everything to do with what God thinks about me. He knows me better than anybody else because He fabricated me together…all my passions and quirks…my gifts and my shortcomings. And one thing I know is that He created me to create. That I am fulfilled and feel His pleasure when I am using the gifts He’s given me. That doesn’t mean I’ve always gotten to use it on interiors. Sometimes it’s homeschooling, or photographing, or cooking dinner at night. But I want to view it all as a way to use my gifts.
This time around, I’m doing it differently. I’m going slower, researching, budgeting, and collecting. So far, it’s been a whole lot more fun. 🙂