Happy Friday, my dear friends! I woke up this morning feeling full of energy and ideas, eager to get typing and share a few thoughts with you. I would like to discuss decorating – how I approach it – and I hope you will chime in too. To give us a jumping off point for our conversation, I’ve chosen a number of images from photographer Kristin Sjaarda, each taken for the Hello! Neighbor home tour series on The Marion House Book. Toronto-based blog author and designer Emma Reddington is such an inspiration to me and The Marion House Book is one of my daily reads, so please do go pay her a visit if you are not already familiar with her work! And now let’s move along to our discussion, shall we? Decorating from the heart…
If you are reading this blog, I can only assume that you have some interest or curiosity about decorating…or perhaps a full-blown obsession? Can you recall when it began? I have loved decorating from an early age, probably beginning with my doll’s house obsession and moving right along to rearranging my own room and poring over my Mom’s decorating books. :) As I became an adult, interior design was a profession I considered, but honestly, I was a bit turned off by the idea that a designer should be a dictator of taste. I see decorating as a very personal process, one that involves getting in touch with what you value, what you are personally drawn to, and what makes you feel good.
Of course, anything we are passionate about is bound to pop up again and again in our life until we pay attention, right? For me, this has meant pouring lots of energy into decorating my home – from my 200 sq. ft. first apartment near the beach in Santa Cruz, to various flats in San Francisco, to a tiny cottage across the bay in Alameda, to my first house here in Providence, where I currently live. I recall saving up my money to make a few purchases at Ikea for my first apartment which was basically a little prefab trailer, long and very narrow. I replaced closet doors with white curtains, hung lots of white twinkle lights for a soft glow, and used a wicker porch set in the living space…because nothing else would fit! We would sit on cushions on the floor to eat dinner when we had friends over. But I loved it! It felt like home, because I had put my personal stamp on it and made it my own.
When Domino magazine came along with its fresh perspective on decorating, I was so inspired by this – as I think many others were! A sense of home, of belonging somewhere, of making a nest that feels comfortable and looks beautiful is such an innate need that we all crave. I think part of the reason Domino was so wildly popular was that it took the realm of decorating and design back down to earth and made it feel accessible to us all. At the same time, design blogs were growing beyond what I think anyone imagined was possible. I began following first one, and then a handful of favorite design blogs, checking in daily to see what my favorite bloggers had their eyes on, and to gather inspiration and tips with a personal flair that were not available anywhere else. Today I am simply blown away by the wealth of inspiration and examples of good design that are out there, whether on blogs, in magazines, decorating books, on TV, web TV, and on and on. Lack of inspiration or accessibility to design is certainly no excuse, that’s for sure!
What do I mean by decorating from the heart? I do not mean a lack of planning – far from it! In fact, when I think of decorating from the heart I think of having a purpose and a clear vision of what you want your space to look like and how you want it to make you, and those who visit, feel. It can take time (sometime a very long time!) to “finish” a home or even a single room, especially when you are working with a limited budget, as most of us are. But if you stay true to your own personal vision, each step will be a pleasant one to take.
It’s also about developing the ability to zero in on what you love and ignore the things that do not suit you or are simply not right for your space at the moment. It’s being able to say “no” to something you may, in fact, love – because you can’t afford it, or you won’t use it and know that it would sit in storage. If you are decorating from the heart, you will avoid costly mistakes, waste, and visual clutter.
But what it really comes down to for me is that our homes should support us and those we love. Walking in the front door should feel like a big, comforting hug. From the moment we open our eyes in the morning, through each task we face during the day until the moment our head hits the pillow again, we have an opportunity to create moments of beauty and ease. And it really doesn’t need to please anyone but you and your family – so I say, have fun with it! Go for that quirky art or funky vintage find, hang a treasured textile on the wall, give your child’s art pride of place over the mantle, use your heirloom silver to stir your morning coffee, whatever feels right to you.
I’d love to hear your take on all of this! Have you thought much about your approach to decorating? And thank you so much for bearing with me, I know this post was a long one – though I hope you were able to gain at least a little bit of inspiration or food for thought from it! :)
Oh, and p.s. – this is a long weekend here in the States…plus it is my sweet hubby’s birthday, so I will be taking Monday off! Have a great weekend my dears! xoxo Laura