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The Art of Slow Decorating

Emily Dean

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There is beauty in letting our home come together slowly, piece by piece.

Newly married, my husband and I moved into our first home together over the summer. After weeks of unpacking (which looked more like moving boxes from one room to the other than anything else), we finally recycled the last box and took a long look at our space.

Enter lots of googling, time on pinterest, and flipping through home magazines.

I can’t tell you how many images I looked through, but it felt like I searched the entire internet trying to find the right items for our home that felt like “us,” were affordable, and also fit our lifestyle.

The tricky thing for home decorating is there is a lot of pressure to go from zero to one hundred in the snap of your fingers. We live in the age of glamorous before and after shots that simply gloss-over a process that can be both time-consuming and frustrating. Both my husband and I are in our mid-twenties, so it makes sense that people assume we’ll have a completely decorated home right off the bat. It would be rather easy (though hardly affordable) to rush into stores or fill our Amazon cart with things that looked okay and did the job. But at the end of the day, we’d be left with a rather stuffy house full of things we never really looked at that just take up space.

I’m the type of person that wants to check things off her list and finish a project the same day I start it. I want the immediate satisfaction of a room full of boxes turned into a polished guest room or office. I don’t want to hang temporary art work as we wait for hard-to-find paintings or the perfect paint color. I’d almost rather have a room full of the wrong things than a room that is half-empty.

It’s when I’m itching to quickly rush something together that I have to remind myself the goal isn’t actually to have a room that is filled with stuff. A complete room isn’t one that is neatly decorated with all the right things and then forgotten about. Instead, I want a room (and house) that is charmingly personable and cozy, and that, like all good things, comes slowly.

I’m learning to welcome the half-finished rooms, the bare walls, the chilly floors in the morning still waiting for a rug. There is beauty in letting our home come together slowly, piece by piece. Instead of automatically buying a lot of matching décor or furniture from a big store, we have the opportunity to curate individual pieces from local shops that we love. Buying secondhand takes patience and time, but it’s rather romantic to have an item you know has been well loved and is now ready to play a role in your home. These items tell a story and carry a personality that is much richer than anything I could order with a push of a button.

“The French have a wonderful way of letting their homes slowly evolve, and ‘decorating’ is unthinkable.” -Annie Moore

Discovering what you love, what fits your lifestyle, and what makes your home come alive is the beauty of home-making. You’ll end up with a space that not only feels completely you but has character and personality – far more meaningful that simply copying an Instagram look.

I’m actually really starting to enjoy the process of finding items and waiting days or weeks before looking again – most of the time I realize I don’t actually like what I’ve found which makes me glad I didn’t make a quick purchase! Our home might take a year or two to feel more finished, but the process is helping me discover my own style and look, as well as to let go of the need to always impress an audience with unfinished homes themselves. We’re all a work in progress, after all.

A few questions to help you discover your own style:

  1. Whether you’re working with a room, a house, a tiny corner – close your eyes and in envision what would make you truly enjoy that space. Not what is popular or trending, but what brings you happiness.

  2. If you knew that no one would ever see your home again, what would you do with it? Free from trying to impress or conform, imagine your house as a place you create just for yourself (and/or your family). You are the one who will spend the most time there, not your friends or Instagram followers.

  3. Create a vision board: cut out pictures from magazines, make a secret Pinterest board just for yourself, combine textures and elements that make you feel satisfied and at peace. As you go through the process of creating and decorating your home, continually look back at (and make changes as needed) your inspiration to make sure you’re staying true to your style, not just buying pieces in a hurry.

Article by Reeve Klatt
Photography & Macrame by Madeline Long of Copper Topped