When shopping doesn't fix the problem
We have too much stuff. Americans in particular are drowning in toasters, iPhones, old computers, clothes, shoes, extra bedding and furniture that doesn't work. We need bigger houses and bigger cars. Shopping is our life.
My guilty pleasure has always been flea markets, thrift stores and most recently Home Goods. No matter where I've lived or what I've done, the design & decoration of my home has always been important to me. In a big way I felt like I was trying to fill a need - to get my home to a state of perfection - and then everything would be okay. But it didn't work like that. I bought something, the excitement wore off and sometimes I even felt guilty. If the purchase wasn't just the perfect thing then I felt bad about myself and not good enough as a designer.
For the first time I feel totally content with my home and I never thought I would get here. Here's how I turned things around.
1. I turned myself into my own design client
When I first meet a client, I listen. I meet them, see the space, get a sense of their style, see what they have and get an understanding of what they need. Understanding the problems and the needs of your client creates the foundation for inspiration and ultimately for solutions. From there we create a plan. I connected again with my core style - elegant, eclectic minimalism and spent some time thinking about how I wanted to feel in the space. This clarity made it easier to understand what didn't fit anymore.
2. I let go of anything I wasn't completely in love with
At times this was hard. I had to look at my home and my furnishings in a completely new light. Instead of focusing on the fact that I had purchased a great piece at a bargain price I had to ask myself if I truly loved it. For some things the answer was no. I let go of textiles from my grandmother's shop that were sitting in storage, I got rid of dining chairs, lamps, a sideboard and small accessories cluttering my shelves. I let go of excess to allow the pieces that I truly adored to take center stage.
3. I completed DIY projects
Vintage pieces are one of my secret design weapons. But along with quality, style and originality comes refurbishment & repair. This in itself is not a problem. What is a problem is letting unfinished pieces stay in your home for far too long. Because I had reconnected with my style - it was easier to finally decide to stain a sideboard an ebony finish rather than lacquer it white - a decision I had been thinking about for almost a year! I also tackled other issues like touching up small holes and refreshing the paint in the living room and on the fireplace. I started really attacking the bones of the space and addressing all the small things that bothered me about the space.
4. I reworked my floor plan
My space has been laid out in every which way imaginable. Or so I thought. After taking out several major furnishings I started to see the space in new ways. I tried the sofa in a new spot, I moved shelving to new areas, I broke up the tired traditional symmetry and used pieces in completely new ways. It took two weeks. Leaning on my design style and taking some risks I was met with a new layout that felt more open and easy. If I would have shopped before working out the space plan surely I would have had some new things to donate to Goodwill.
5. I recognized the hidden cost of bargain shopping
I've never met anyone who didn't love a bargain. While there is absolutely a dignity in living within your means it is very easy to be tempted into the allure of a good deal. When you purchase something based solely on the price you may not be considering if it's something the room truly needs or if it fits into your design scheme. All too often when you feel that something is off in a room there is a tendency to run out and buy something - and when that nagging feeling returns it's often because you didn't buy what the room truly needed. Over time these purchases turn into clutter and frustration. Focus on quality and shop less often but when you do shop, purchase the items that you really need, want and love.
6. And then I shopped for what the space truly needed
As my home started to come together in a new way, the need to shop surprisingly stared to lessen. But it also revealed to me the few things I did need to purchase. I needed four things for the living room and one for the bedroom. I focused on quality and took my time to select what would be the best selection design-wise. I purchased a faux fur throw from Restoration Hardware (on sale because it was summertime), a black linen shade for my brass table lamp, a white floor lamp from Ikea and I swapped a piece of photography with my friend Jon Rou and the photographer of the piece. For the bedroom I purchased a moroccan shag rug (also on sale) as I needed to soften the floor and balance the proportion of the grandness of the bed. I made these decisions with a clear vision in mind and they met the needs of the space.