Even though it seems like all I've managed to write about, I've been doing more than reading and plotting wardrobes this year. Another area of my focus has been our home.
When we bought this house nearly eleven years ago, I was just shy of twenty-two, newly married, and my experience with home decorating and maintenance was limited to my dorm room and a couple months in our apartment. I hadn't given it much thought in my life to that point.
But suddenly I had a whole house to paint, furnish, etc.
So, obviously, "themes" represented the epitome of style to my newly initiated homeowner self. The kitchen was pepper themed (red accents and chili peppers of course) because Brad loved Tabasco so much. The dining area and guestroom had a vaguely Asian flair, with muted greens and bamboo (I even made an abstract green painting). The bathrooms were tropical. Lots of palm trees. The dark den, Brad's favorite, had wine paintings and wine coasters. Because we love to drink wine. And the living room revolved around some lovely sailboat prints which my in-laws gave us. It was soft blue and cream and so forth.
Most of this was decided in the first year, and despite various room reshufflings, the decor has remained remarkably undisturbed in the intervening seasons.
If you were being charitable, you might refer to the whole as sweetly schizophrenic.
But I did what I knew at the time, and I now know making a house OUR home requires not only intentional, coherent style and vision, but also time. It's not a race, it's a process that spans a lifetime. There's layers. You change your mind. You build bit-by-bit.
The tweaking is underway. I'm trying to look beyond matching towel motifs and paint colors to the full spectrum of homey-ness. What brings me joy to look at? What helps guests feel at home? How can I use ordinary things, and things we already have, to double as decorative?
I've benefitted from creating "home" and "Believe to be beautiful" Pinterest boards, and looking for the commonalities in my pins to help me better understand and define my style (The boards are set to secret so you can't view them, but I can invite you if you'd like to check it out!)
A photo of the boys' colored pencils
What I've identified so far:
I love white space.
I like green plants.
I dig white plaster and terra cotta walls.
I heart pops of color, almost anything in the rainbow, but especially sunshine yellow, tangerine orange, and sky blue.
I adore strings of white lights (yes the kind used by college students, and the slightly larger globe kind) (This is not my house, just showing you a pretty Pinterest pic of lights:)
I read The Nesting Place this fall and love The Nester's mantra: "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful"
How I'm using what I've learned:
Right now, my working title for my design aesthetic is "Happy Camper." It's not literally about loving camping - there are no plans for campfires and sleeping bags - but incorporating happy colors with the nature, travel, and temporary-ness associated with camping.
This isn't something to gut the house for and start over. It just gives me some purpose and direction in the choices I get to make going forward, as we replace a rug or sofa, or shuffle a room again. It also points out some areas I've neglected, such as greenery and lighting.
I've started a few small projects that are bringing a different feel, even as many of the main home elements remain the same. The photo at the top of this post is of some hanging herb planters I recently made by punching holes in soup cans and attaching colored bungee cords. They're beautiful in the sunlight and come in handy cooking too!
This was a project from last year, when I realized I had a collection of pretty bottle caps that weren't doing me any good in a bag in a drawer:
The first attempt involved elaborate gluing of thumbtacks and was an all-around flop. The caps promptly all fell off the tacks, and it looked lousy anyway.
The second effort was Brad's suggestion of using blank white canvas (caps are glued straight to it, I did burn my fingers a couple times) and I loved how it turned out.
Lots 'o maps! You can see our giant world map on the living room wall below, as well as one of the sailboat prints.
I have two Richmond maps too, the Richmond Type Map in the kitchen and the Richmond Neighborhood map has been bouncing around (currently in the living room in a frame that's too big, giving it a rakish industrial air):
My most recent addition is this picture I created yesterday by painting a black frame around a blank canvas and taping an old photo of a citronella candle in the center (from one of many picnics at my aunt and uncle's house when they lived in the country). Almost insultingly easy, and very easily changed. I am slightly obsessed with white canvas, so cheap and so many possibilities.
If I could snap my fingers and change everything in the living room this second, there would be a different sofa (not totally sure what kind, but simple with some wood elements), an indoor-outdoor rug that wasn't hideously uncomfortable, globe lights strung across the ceiling, and a bunch of blue folding "Captain's chairs" (like you take to outdoor events) that could be shifted and removed as needed.
But there's no rush :)