We’d gone for an evening walk and had just reached the sidewalk on the main boulevard when I decided to spill the news to Mr. Hines that after hosting such a successful party, I definitely didn’t want to leave our house. (We’d been considering moving.) Of course, as he would uncover, there was more to it than that. I’d just discovered a few decorating secrets that helped me bring my design ideas to life. The conversation went something like this…
“I feel like the house is finally looking the way I want it.”
He nodded back at me with a skeptical look on his face.
“What? Why are you nodding like that? And looking like that?”
“It’s been 10 years. We’ve lived in this house 10 years.”
“I know. But it took me that long to figure it out, and as I’ve grown, I’ve gotten better at self-expression. The house is a manifestation of that. “It’s self-actualization,” I proclaimed (my thoughts immediately drifting to Peggy Blumquist in Season 2 of Fargo.)
We all have a need for self-expression. And I am convinced that the physical world we create in our homes is a reflection of our inner world, for better or worse.
What happens when that physical world doesn’t live up to our ideas?
Secret #1 – Learn
Sometimes it’s a matter of skill, just like with my former Kindergartners.
They entered the classroom as five-year-olds with not a lot of experience in reading or writing. But over time, as we practiced and they grew, not only in skill and knowledge, but in maturity, they learned. By the end of the school year, they were writing full sentences and putting those sentences together to create stories; stories they could read and share with the class.
What started out as letter identification turned into full-blown reading and writing. I used to love to show their parents a comparison of their work from the beginning of the school year with the end of the school year. It was physical evidence of how far they’d come.
It takes time for our skill level to catch up with our goals, and sometimes you have to look back to see how far you’ve come.
When I look back at my living room photos from six years ago, well, I cringe. But, when I look at my living room now, I see development and growth.
But, until recently, I was still missing a step.
Secret #2 – The Missing Step
When I looked at Pinterest images, home decor blogs and magazines for inspiration, I would identify what I liked about the photo; color combinations, mood and then try to translate that into my own home.
But it never quite turned out the way I’d hoped.
The question I should have asked myself was, “What is it about the lifestyle I’m trying to create that I identify with in this picture?” Most often it wasn’t about color or even mood. It was about a way of life; a life I imagined was lived boldly through freedom of expression and daring to be different.
Those pictures were the epitome of thriving to me. And that, that can only come from within.
Secret #3 – The Within Work
Thankfully, I’ve been doing my fair share of “within” work over the last several years. Fixing myself up from the inside out. The result?
Up until this point, I’ve been afraid to be me; to show up in my home decor. In other words, I was afraid of rejection, of people not liking my style.
Not anymore! I set a pair of lamps on my mantel and a put the t.v. in an antique armoire. I hung an English hunting scene even though it’s not “in,” and moved the blue mirror from the dining room, where it’s always been, to above the piano for a bold, dramatic look.
It was so freeing to finally let go of my fears.
I’ve always struggled with trusting my decorating instincts. Saying that “out loud” makes me realize how silly it is; how I’ve held myself back for no good reason and there’s no real risk in trying something new.
So, I went with my gut and combined two seating arrangements in one; a circle of non matching chairs around a too small ottoman and a faded, old (but very comfortable) couch facing the t.v. And I love it!
I can be innovative up to point, but taking risks has always been hard for me which is why I’m so drawn to others who seem to take risks with abandon. My stopping point seems to be a lack of confidence in my ability to do something new, like building simple furniture, or a lack of courage to make a bold statement, usually with color.
But this time was different. I went all out with my favorite color palette of navy, pink and green (sprinkling bright green and adding pops of pink around the room felt really bold to me) and giving myself permission to finally buy two, new blue pillows for the couch.
Or, like I was saying to Mr. Hines, self-expression.
Each change gave me the confidence to make the next, until my living room finally felt right. And I felt right.
Uninhibited. That’s the best way to describe what I saw in those inspiration photos and what I’ve spent ten years trying to achieve in my own home. It’s the only way to be if you want to create a home and life you love.
See you in class,