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Unplugged Evenings & Decorating with Intention

Hello my sweets, how are you doing? I’ve had the topic for today’s post on my mind for a while now, so I hope you are in the mood for a bit of a longer chat than usual. I love being a mom, I love my work, and I love spending time and thought on my home; I feel very lucky. But I had been trying to do too much without allowing myself any downtime, and that simply doesn’t work, you know? So today I thought I would gather my thoughts on living and decorating with intention, slowing down, and savoring our messy, wonderful lives. Are you with me?

There is a lot on my plate right now: the full time raising of a toddler, part-time writing, a special little side project (I’ll tell you more next month), and of course the dreaming and fiddling that always goes into owning a house. I want to be savoring this time in my life, when it seems that so many good things are happening.

One tool I have adopted recently is to practice unplugged evenings. After I put Bixby to bed, I shut down the computer, cozy up on the sofa with a mug of hot tea, and simply relax. No hulu episodes of favorite shows, no squeezing in a little extra work or blogging. I might do some deep breathing, read a book, pick up my knitting, write in my journal, talk with my hubby, or really, just stare into space. It’s wonderful.

After the first evening I tried it, I felt so refreshed and energized, I vowed to do it more often. In reality, I wouldn’t want to completely unplug every night, but I am aiming for two or three nights each week. It seemed so foreign to me, and I had to remind myself that not too many years ago, I frequently had unplugged evenings. You know, pre-high-speed internet? Ha.

The thing is, our bodies and brains need some downtime to process the events of our lives, and to brainstorm and come up with new ideas. Innovation and creativity fizzles out pretty quickly if you are burning the candle at both ends. Once I settled into this routine of unplugging, I found myself daydreaming about some lovely things. Ideas for my house and yard, projects I want to undertake, new column ideas, and more. And in the morning, I had more energy and felt more present than I had felt in a long time. I urge you to give it a try.

It’s funny, for spending so much time thinking and writing about interiors, I spend precious little time on my own house-y projects, and I want that to change. This year I hope to spend my weekends getting good and tired and more than a little dirty, digging in the garden, building a chicken coop, beautifying our front yard and porch, and tackling a few indoor projects as well. I imagine coming in after a long day in the garden, happily tired, to drink a cool glass of iced tea or fresh lemonade, and have a hot shower with deliciously fragrant soap. I am setting an intention to make that happen, right now.

I get asked a lot about how to decorate on a budget; how to create a home you really love when you can’t afford to go out and buy everything you want. I think the answer is actually pretty simple. A lot of decorating with intention is about slowing down: less shopping, but more gratitude, creativity and yes, more work. We cannot all have homes that look like pages from a magazine (myself included, certainly), but we can all be happy at home. And I think that stems from feeling like we’ve put in a bit of effort and elbow grease to make our space our own. It could mean painting the walls or rehabbing a piece of junk shop furniture, sewing a cushion for a chair from an old tea towel instead of buying a new one, or simply giving the house a thorough cleaning and decluttering. And an unexpected benefit of slow decorating is that when you do make a purchase, you are much less likely to make a mistake.

Being happy at home also comes from simply living it. Lighting candles, cooking dinner, listening to music, reading in your favorite chair, staying up late talking over a glass of wine. Spending time puttering about is essential. And frankly, I think it’s great to just let go of a lot of the expectations for perfection we may have floating around in our heads. The messiness of our lives is also part of what is so unique and beautiful about us, don’t you think? The crayon marks on my coffee table are a sign of my creative little boy and remind me of his sweet tousled blonde hair and big brown eyes. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

This was a long post, I know, and if you made it all the way to the end, thank you! I hope perhaps you’ve found a morsel of inspiration to take away, or at least feel affirmed in some way that the beauty in our lives comes from the imperfection. Let’s all take it a little easier on ourselves, shall we? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on unplugging, slow decorating, and living with intention, so if you feel the urge to chime in, please do so in the comments section. xoxo Laura

(images: via Norske Interior Blogger here and here)

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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Angela February 28, 2012, 5:08 pm

    There must be something in the air….I’ve been having such similar thoughts….about doing within the home, rather than spending most of my time looking at lovely images on blogs….of having time to sit and see what ideas emerge. What reminded me to do this was the recent aquisition of a hammock – i can’t believe how it instantly relaxes and reminds me to day dream. Keep it up!

  • Nina February 28, 2012, 9:51 pm

    This is a wonderful post Laura. Just recently I have been feeling incredibly tired and drained and wondered why that might be. When I had some downtime in between unpacking boxes, tending to the boys making our new home “livable” I used to jump on the computer to email people, read blogs or write. Although that’s something I enjoy very much it doesn’t actually re-charge my batteries in any way. So as you say, unplugging every now and then and sitting back looking at how much we actually do and achieve helps put things into perspective. I also think it’s true what you say about decorating, when moving into our new house I wanted it all done straight away and that’s just not possible. Now I am taking more time selecting curtains and wall art, knowing that we will be here for a while and that it will all come together eventually. Take care, Nina
    Nina´s last [type] ..Citta Design

  • Anne February 28, 2012, 10:40 pm

    I love your “night”-dreaming plan. Day and night dreaming are how I have gotten/been given some of my best ideas. And some of my most fun decorating was when I was young and everything had to be cheap diy. One of my favorites was nailing 1×2 boards over & around my bed (a mattress on the floor) in the shape of the great pyramid. I loved sleeping inside my very own great pyramid.

  • heather February 29, 2012, 5:57 am

    What a fabulously inspirational post Laura! Thank you for making time in your in own life and speaking to us about it first hand. I needed to hear this. In fact, over the past week I was advised to be on partial bed rest to avoid pre-term labor and the thought of it has rocked my daily thinking and tendency toward busyness. The practice of intentional mind/body rest or meditation is not natural for me. And yet I wonder why I can’t sleep at night, have tension knots in my back and now early contractions! This message keeps coming at me. For someone who tends to keep going and going, giving and giving, filling every extra moment with little tasks or cybertime, I know the deep places of my soul long for this experience. Thank you. This post is the reminder and refreshment I needed today.
    heather´s last [type] ..A Little Peek

  • Melanie March 4, 2012, 11:25 pm

    I really love this idea and need to implement it myself. My brain has been way too overloaded/fuzzy/crazy lately.
    Melanie´s last [type] ..a floral study is my fave

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