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.)