I had a little meltdown back in February about the state of our old house.
I suddenly realized—after living in that house for more than a decade—how little I’d actually done to make it mine. We’d done a lot of fixing up, but there was so much I hadn’t done to that house. When it came to shaping the space I wanted to live in, I kept waiting for that moment when I would know exactly what step to take next, what style I wanted to pursue.
That moment never came. Because I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to end up, I didn’t even begin.
I was so disappointed when I realized what I’d done. I didn’t even realize I’d been waiting.
But then a couple of things happened.
• The Nester’s book came out a few weeks after I had my revelation, with its anthem of “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” It helped reinforce what I’d already realized: that you hone your style by experimenting, learning from your hits and misses. In theory, I believe in failing forward. It was time to apply that concept to my home.
• We were house hunting this spring, and ended up finding something much quicker than we expected, while my regrets about the old house were fresh.
• Then the universe gave me another kick in the pants when we moved out of our old place. We were dismayed by how many projects we had to wrap up to make it renter-ready. One painful example: almost ten years ago we installed ceramic tile in the kitchen, creating a one-inch height difference between it and the adjoining living room. I’ve been minding people to “watch the step” for ten years.
After we moved out, Will put in a little transitional piece that eliminates the tripping hazard and makes it look a million times better. It cost twenty bucks and took less than an hour.
What had we been waiting for?
We’ve been in the new house a little over a month now. (When I say “new house” I mean new to us. It was built in 1960 and has lots of deferred maintenance.)
We want to live in it for a few months before we make any huge changes (like, the kitchen), but we’re getting to work on the basics immediately.
First, the fairy door. I did this the day we moved in.
Because it was spring, we tackled outdoor stuff next: planting jasmine on the arbor and hanging the twinkle lights. (And digging out the poison ivy. Ugh.) With lovely landscaping and no boxes in sight, the patio is the best room in the house right now.
Choosing paint colors came next. I love painting: it’s cheap and easy and instantly gratifying. I’m terrible at picking colors, but thankfully I have friends who are geniuses with a fan deck.
I rolled a few samples to hone in on the right shades (with lots of feedback from friends with good taste). I painted the living room last week (after taking down those cornices—another no-brainer), the dining room over the weekend, and I hope to finish the family room today.
I’m not sure exactly what the next step is: we need to find a few foundational pieces and rearrange the living room. We need to pick accent colors. We need to make a giant IKEA run.
I’m not terribly decisive about stuff like this. (Who am I kidding? I’m not terribly decisive about anything.) But it’s not stressing me out anymore. I’m just happy to be doing something to make this space ours.
And this house feels a little more like home every day.
Now excuse me, I have an accent chair to go pick up.
Encouragement, commiseration, tips, and warnings welcome in comments.