“I need to live like this is my home.”

“I need to live like this is my home.”

We bought our house as a fixer-upper when we were straight out of college, and even now–more than a decade later–we still have a lot of fixing up to do. I was young and indecisive; I didn’t have a style; I didn’t know how to make my house mine.

We’ve known for a while that we won’t stay in our little starter house forever. (4 kids + 2 grown-ups divided by one bathroom = no thanks.) We decided years ago that when the time comes to move on, we don’t want to sell our starter house. We want to hang on to it and rent it out. (Thus the goal to save up a down payment.)

We’ve been thinking about renting out our house for Derby this spring, using it as motivation to tackle some lingering projects and make some cash.

We knew we needed to do some work to get it ready, and set out to make a to-do list: replace some broken furniture, spiff up our much-abused hand-me-down dining room chairs, repair the peeling paint in the bathroom. Buy a tv, replace the broken dishes, put in a few new windows.

Before we finished the list, we scanned the other Derby rental listings on Craigslist, just to make sure we weren’t forgetting anything.

That’s when I started to have serious angst.

I don’t usually suffer from Pinterest envy or instagram angst, but I felt a stab of something when I looked at those listings. I couldn’t help but notice that those houses all looked lived in. They looked decorated; they felt complete. Mine … doesn’t.

For ten years, I’ve put off making decisions because I didn’t know what to decide, or how. I didn’t know what my style was or what I wanted things to look like. And besides, I knew we were moving on. And so I waited … until I knew.

But when I saw those finished homes in the listings, I realized just how much I’ve been biding my time here, waiting for the next house.

I’ve used my indecision–I’m just not sure what I want, yet–and my move as an excuse to not really make this house mine.

But it turns out you can’t find out what you want by waiting. You find out by doing, by experimenting, by trying something and living with it for a bit.

I was chatting with an interior designer recently who said a surprising number of her clients are renters. She theorized it was because renters know they need help, and they feel free to experiment in their temporary space–clarifying their style, with her help–so they can be ready when they move to their own place.

I’m a vocal advocate of failing forward with my wardrobe and with my work. But when it comes to my home, I’ve been reluctant to experiment. I’m constantly beating back my maximizer nature. Experimenting with a scarf, or colored skinnies, or dangly earrings is one thing … but with a sofa? Yikes.

(It’s important to clarify: I’m not talking about spending the big bucks! I’m talking about wall colors, throw pillows, which photos to put in what color frame.)

I’m resolving to make a few more mistakes going forward: to make my house mine, through trial and error–with a little help from friends with good eyes, and Pinterest–but mostly on my own. 

It’s time to experiment: to try new things,  to see what works and what doesn’t; what we like, and what we don’t. 

Wish me luck.

On a happier note, I heard something about interior design in the midst of my freak-out that I found reassuring. I’ll share a little about that tomorrow.

I’d love to hear about your personal experience–good or bad–with interior design in comments. And if you’ve got any good tips, please share them there!

(Title quote from my current read: Micha Boyett’s memoir Found.)

PS. My #1 lesson from Pinterest, and a DIY decorating experiment I don’t regret a bit.

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59 comments

  1. Amie says:

    I am a long-time renter. I am terribly indecisive. I am quite certainly a fellow INFP. Are you sure I didn’t write this post?!?! Word for word?!? 😉 Best nugget for me: “But it turns out you can’t find what you want by waiting…” I need to put that on my fridge asap (if I could only decide what kind of paper/color of ink/cursive font to use). I have been “forcing” myself to redo our large built-in bookcase/cabinet this week but have stalled at the final “styling”…thanks for the extra boost to end the procrastination.

  2. going through similar emotions right now. Our home isn’t lovable to me yet (though I am so grateful for it!) But I want to make some practical decisions to improve it. Baby steps: curtains, rugs, wall art (of which we have none hanging yet!)

  3. Rachel S. says:

    I think we did a good job at our previous house. We moved in when we’d only been married a few months. I liked French stuff, so my hubby got on board, and we did most of the house in French things. He wanted our bedroom to be like a cabana, though, so that was palm fronds and such. We got rid of ALL of that when we moved from our nondescript vinyl village home to this 1919 Craftsman. We know more about our style now, so we’re excited to do vintage here! As soon as we get unpacked…

  4. Cindy B says:

    I’ve lived in my circa 1900 house for nearly 20 years, and just as my taste in clothing (and clothing styles!) has changed, so have my tastes in decorating. At first, I thought that I had to remain true to the period, so I had lots of Victorian-type decor. But gradually, I’ve evolved, and now the only constant is change! I have tapped into my artsy-craftsy side, and actually painted stripes on, and stenciled, a hardwood floor (gasp!). I’ve also painted and recoverd old theater seats from an architectural salvage store, and embraced the chalkboard craze with both a large hanging board, and by painting the inside of a powder room door with both metallic and chalkboard paint, to encourage potty poetry! My suggestion? Find bloggers whose style you like and follow them, and embrace Pinterest – create boards with things you see that you like, and over time, you’ll see your styles emerge – and I say “styles” because I think few people, in real life, slavishly adhere to just one style. Good luck!

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