When we design our home spaces, oftentimes things just land where they may, without much rhyme or reason. For example, if you receive a gift of a print or knickknacks, its home often becomes the one space in the house where you can “think to put it right now”.
Unfortunately, “right now” turns into “forever”. One day, you look around the house and realize that you have piles of stuff all over your shelves and tables, all of which landed there strictly because you couldn’t think of any other places that might be better.
Creating your home environment really does come down to the details. So many things influence your mood in a room. It’s not just the clutter or cleanliness, although those are both hugely important. You also need to be surrounded by things and colors that make you happy.
Imagine if you were a beachy, whites-and-blues, overstuffed furniture kind of person, stuck in a house that was sleek and modernist, with severe angles, sharp corners, and hard surfaces.
Doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?
Now imagine your ideal home, dominated by the single most hideous picture you’ve ever seen in your life, which you felt compelled to hang up because bought it in Mazatlan on spring break in college 30 years ago. How painful it would be to walk down the hallway into an otherwise comforting and serene room, only to see a picture that makes your hair stand on end, literally smack dab in the middle of it.
It’s all in the details.
What works best for you isn’t necessarily going to work for anyone else–just like what worked best for you 30 years ago isn’t necessarily going to work for you today. Creating the best spaces for you requires attention. You don’t need constant vigilance; it’s more like making an occasional re-evaluation of whether what you’ve got going is, in fact, still the right decision for you.
When you create your ideal space, your little home sanctuary in the middle of a world full of crazy, you must be brave enough to make the decisions that work for you. Not your mom, not your Great Aunt Edna, not me, and certainly not some interior designer on TV. You are the one who must live there; you should be surrounded by things you love, and look at colors that make you smile every day.
Take a walk around your room, or your whole house if you feel so inclined. Look at the things that have “landed” in various spots. Look with fresh eyes, or even though the lens of a camera.
Do you really want that antique vase that’s sitting on your mantel? Are those window treatments your style, or your Mom’s? What about the pair of salt & pepper shakers you got 20 years ago? Do you really need the little kissing Scandinavian couple to help remind you of a fun trip to Solvang? What about the tarnished silver plate that you bought at an antique store in 1993, thinking you might shine it up someday and actually use it. If you haven’t polished it up in 19 years, it may be time to get it go.
All these things that meant something to you once, but now no longer do, should probably go instead to someone else who will love them. If you don’t know anyone who might want these items, try a garage sale, or even eBay.
While you’re wandering around the house, look at the colors on the walls as well. Does the paint match the mood, or even the furnishings? Is that blue bedroom really the color you want? Maybe you never liked that color blue, but since you also don’t like painting, you decided that it “wasn’t that bad”, even though it wasn’t the restful green that you envisioned.
If this is the case, it might be time to hire out the job, or find a friend or two who can help you. Spend a day, or even a weekend, to get it done, and you’ll likely find a whole new love for the space.
Don’t forget to keep an eye open for out-of-date holiday decorations. You might be like me, and find a Christmas bell hanging on a door, or a couple of electric candles you forgot were sitting in the windows. Or you have some cute little Valentine’s decorations sitting on a sideboard, which you really don’t want there, but they are kind of cute, and your kids made them, so there they sit. (I really need to do something with those things. I think maybe I need a “holiday storage” area in my attic…)
The best spaces in our homes are the ones that adapt and evolve along with us. My oldest loved her room when it was bubblegum pink with purple and white trim; now, she would rather have greens and blues, like the colors of the ocean. Certainly I loved sunflower gold in my room as a kid, but I wouldn’t want it in my room now (well okay, maybe I would, but my husband wouldn’t). I really liked the dark blue with white trim in the den in our first home; however, it’s too dramatic now.
I’m in my mid-40s, and have come to prefer colors that are more serene and relaxing, especially after a long day with two kids who keep me on my toes.
What are your favorite details in your sanctuary spaces? It might be the combination of colors in your room, or the pictures on the walls, or the curtains in the windows. Look around, and see what works in one room. Then see whether you want to apply that idea in another room that doesn’t work as well.
If you’re stuck for color ideas, consider using an online paint app, such as this one from Benjamin Moore.
Whatever choices you make, remember that the details do matter. Make sure that all the details you choose are the ones that make you happy.