Article #5. Home Decorating, From Scratch

When events happen, they happen in batches don’t they?  An entire group of friends starts dating all in one summer.  By the next wave of daters, there’s a whole movement of engagements which naturally leads all at once to batches of weddings.  Don’t even get me started about baby booms, or even the idea that each baby boom trends one gender or the other.

For me, the latest batch of events seems to have been friends who are moving into new spaces… whether new houses or apartments.  Just recently, I helped one of my best friends move into an apartment right next door, and there was such fresh potential for arranging a new space, and decorating a home!

It reminds me of when I married Austin and moved into his tiny one-bedroom apartment.  Until we had gotten married, it was a very basic but functional bachelor pad, complete with only a twin mattress on the floor, a tall floor lamp, bare walls, one area rug, and only one couch and a small dining room table.  You can’t blame bachelors… the man was hardly ever home to MAKE it a home.  (Mostly the hottie-man was out working, taking me on dates, or visiting family for dinner.)

I was about to say that seeing Austin’s bachelor pad for the first time (even before he actually bought the apartment house he would soon be living in) lit me up with anticipation and inspiration for all that could be done to make this building a home.  But now that I remember more accurately, that wasn’t actually the case.  Heh.

In fact, I have to admit: I could not see past the former resident’s clutter, dysfunctional furniture layout, and even the smell of the place.  The outdated wall colors and old tile countertop with flaky grout went perfectly with the strong scent smell of essential oils that could remind anyone of sickly old ladies.

Thankfully, I married a natural visionary who is also accustomed to seeing potential in every home he sells as a real estate broker.  He’s also pretty handy (and looks sexy, turns out) with tools.  It’s amazing what cheap and simple cosmetic updates can do for a home, such as a fresh coat of paint and a clean new countertop.

When the place was completely void of any belongings, and the updates finished and installed, suddenly I could see all the potential Austin saw for creating a welcoming environment that was both efficient and cozy.  For the first time in my life, I had the itch to window shop Home Goods, Hobby Lobby, and furniture stores.

Starting from scratch was thrilling, but initially overwhelming to me.  Where was I suppose to start?  What did this space need?  Most importantly: What was my style?  And should I try bold, new ideas, or stick to what I knew?  I was afraid I would regret a style once I began making purchases.

When I look around my home now, I can’t believe what little faith I had in the space, or my ability to furnish it well.  We adore our tiny, one-bedroom apartment.  I kind of navigated my own way through the insecurity of how to start decorating, and that’s what I want to write about in today’s post.

FIRST.  I asked myself how I wanted people to FEEL in each room of my house.

If it was the living room, did I want them to feel an air of sophistication and intrigue… or cozy comfort that felt bright and clean?

If it was the master bedroom, was it to feel luxurious and private, a safe and restful retreat, or some combination thereof?

My bath & laundry room I wanted to feel fresh, clean, and organized.  My kitchen?  Inspired, organized, and lively.

I find that if I focus too much on the decor itself, I spend a lot more money and stress more over whether each purchase “matched” the correct style.  Allowing the feel of the room to guide my style not only produced a better look, but also relaxed my approach to it all, making the process much more enjoyable.  Swapping pieces in and out of the room is also much more workable this way as well.  I found that my style just “became apparent” as I purchased pieces that I genuinely loved, with the look and feel of the space in mind.

SECOND.  I got inspired.

I am not ashamed to say that Pinterest and Instagram have heavily influenced my home.  If I didn’t know where to begin, I would just scrollllll for ideas.  Endlessly.  I have never regretted the time I spent doing that!  Creating the environment you and your family will come home to every single day is an investment; investing time isn’t a waste.  The best part is that I still feel like my original, genuine tastes are represented in my house.  If I don’t LOVE it, I don’t use it.

Getting inspired is not only for decorating, but I also utilized it for things like how to arrange furniture and ways to efficiently organize.  All of these things are a part of transforming a space into a home!

THIRD.  I thrifted what I could, and splurged on what was important to me.

I felt like a crazy woman half-way into the trip.  But it was too late now to turn around and call the thing off, so I did it: I drove and hour and a half – one way – to where there was no cell service just to purchase two end-tables for $60 off Facebook Marketplace.  They are gorgeous, match my furniture perfectly, and fit like a glove in my tiny living room.  Inconvenient and crazy purchase, but in the end (no pun intended) absolutely no regrets.

In contrast, it was really important to me that our bedroom furniture set was uniform and nice.  We didn’t buy the most expensive stuff, but I’d say we splurged.  That also felt right.

There is no right or wrong way to shop, unless maybe your bank account winds up in the red over it.  But for me, by balancing these two ways of shopping, I was able to create an environment I love while still feeling like I was shopping reasonably and responsibly.  Which makes the decorating budget stretch farther!

FOURTH. I exercised patience.

Sometimes, it takes time to acquire each piece when you’re starting from scratch.  I remember wanting the entire room to pull together RIGHT NOW! and just be finished so I could fully enjoy the finished look and feel.  Especially as a newly wed, you’re in a transition time where you’re leaving and cleaving, and you just want to be settled.  I remember when rooms felt “unfinished,” I felt a tad less settled-in, and that was an adjustment for me.

But not only did having a little patience give me the time to search Craigslist and Marketplace for neat deals to come up, it also allowed us to gradually construct our design style with care so that it was truly “us”, and save money for the things we already knew we wanted to splurge on.

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So there you have it!  If I ever had to furnish a home (or even a new room!) from scratch again, I imagine I might feel lost all over again at first.  But hopefully I would remember these tips and starting points and feel much more confident the second time around!

I am actually curious about you others…  I know there are more tips than these out there!  Did you furnish and decorate your home from scratch, and how did you go about it?

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