buyer’s remorse anony : the comparison game

Hello lovelies!

We hope this finds you having a wonderful week. We’re in the throes of completing that crazy back yard overhaul we’ve been talking about for what feels like eight years quite some time now. In between wasp swarms, storms and battling the elements, it’s been a big fat lesson for us in the land of patience… and peeling our bootays off the ground when we’ve literally been knocked down a few times. We can’t wait to share it with you, as it’s been a few months in the making… so stay tuned, because we hope have that reveal here tomorrow! {Fingers crossed!} But without further ado, today’s topic: 

Last week we talked about buyer’s remorse in our homes. Just so you know, we absolutely loved hearing from you…from all the comments and feedback. I adore your honesty… and I’m learning quite a bit from reading your awesome takes on it all.

It’s super comforting to know I’m not alone. I feel like we should make matching t-shirts and bake cookies and start a club, because we’ve all been there. We’ll call ourselves the BRA’s (Buyer’s Remorse Anonys). Who’s with me!?

What? You don’t like it?

We’ve all struggled with that process of ‘becoming an adult’ and furnishing our spaces. When you’re finally on your own, when you can declare yourself an official ‘adult’, that process can be quite a rewarding (if not budget sucking) one. But beyond simple topics of the home, does that struggle to define ourselves ever really go away? Maybe it’s only minimalized as we learn from our mistakes.

While we could discuss tips and tricks to avoid buyer’s remorse all day long, I find myself sluffing it off. I want to touch on the deeper heart(s) of the issue. I’m going to be so bold today as to say this: Maybe we only learn to subdue the symptoms over time, instead of meeting the real problem head on.

If we aren’t getting to the root of the problem… do we ever really learn?

My biggest remorse, as I’ve spoken of often, was our gargantuan leather sofas debacle. Once upon a time circa 2006, we rushed and purchased these sofas to fill up our new living room. We actually had cash, and we rationalized that we were avoiding the credit card conundrum of our past. The sofas were also a cheaper option. It seemed like a smart purchase at the time. We had the space and needed it to be filled. We both said yes to those sofas, because it was what you did. You purchased the perfectly nice, big box store sofas. Kept them from now into eternity. The end. All perfectly good, rational reasons to take the plunge, right?

As it turns out, we were rushing for reasons that seemed right, without really evaluating our process. Within a week of moving into our new home, those sofas were gracing the living room floor. We did this without taking our time. Without thinking through what we really wanted.

When I had a chance to replace those (perfectly good though not my taste) sofas, I struggled with guilt. I even wrote of my tufted dream sofa. How could I dare replace those sofas when there were bigger problems in the world than my silly tastes to think about? But I wasn’t comfortable in my own home. It didn’t feel like a haven for me, or my family.

Fast forward a few years later, and I was in a rush because of some upcoming deadlines (read: things I totally did to myself) and felt the pressure. I finally got the green light from Jamin to replace the monstrocities (we actually sold them and they funded our new sofa purchases). I searched Craiglist, because we were on a tight budget and had a wonderfully talented friend reupholster Duncan (score-a forever piece!) and slipcover a new sofa. In my irrational race to the finish line and completing a space I rushed, once again, with that second sofa. I didn’t even prewash the fabric. I know. Slap me through the computer screen now. We all know how that one ended. It was time. It was money. It was a catastrophe. 

I honestly thought that perhaps the sofa juju decor karma fairies were punishing me for being so consumed with all things sofa drama.

Looking back, and now dubbed my ‘happy accident’ I was finally free to admit that six months of white just wasn’t working for our family, anyway. (That would be after I decided to come up for air following a week of bereaved planking and live my life like a renewed Polyanna on crack determined to search for the bright side in everything.) For us, personally, it was a nightmare with three young children. It was like making those mistakes gave me the courage to admit and wait for my love. (Yes, I am talking about sofas, not a high school love triangle a-la Twilight.)

In the meantime, I’ve now deemed sofas one of the most difficult items in a home to purchase. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone.

In that single line up of events, was one of the greatest lessons I have learned about myself. There’s a lot to be said about really reflecting… and truly learning from our mistakes. I mean, how do you grow without them?

But after those traumatizing sequences, I was left with some tough questions to answer about myself. Why, in the past, did I feel the need to fill my home quickly? Why did I have an over all feeling of discontentment? Why did I feel so rushed to establish myself as an adult, or prove myself despite my own detriment? Once it was ‘together’ why wasn’t I satisfied?

No one else cared about what I did to my living room. It was me. It was all me.

Our home and the process of creating one says a lot about us personally, if we take the time to look and listen. Breaking it down: I made the same mistake, twice because of one main issue. 

I struggle a lot with feeling like I’m enough. And as odd as that is, I think it transcends in all areas of my life. Sometimes (Knuckles are white, eyes are closed for this heavy admittance) I am guilty of playing the comparison game.

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I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to be a real live adult, but now that we were married, I was comparing myself to people around me. I was so distracted by what others were doing, and how successful, or happy, or (fill in the blank here) they seemed, I wasn’t taking the time to evaluate my own choices. To enjoy my own life.

My inner dialog on selecting that first ‘grown up’ sofa: { _________ has a leather sofa. That’s probably what I should do, too.} And if it (whatever we were trying to accomplish at the moment) couldn’t happen right away, I was unhappy. I had unrealistic expectations for myself, and our home based on my supposed observations of everything around me.

Let me be clear with this: It’s not something I’ve conquered. They are the quiet demons waiting in the recesses of my mind that must be squelched on a constant basis.

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How often do we do that with the decisions we make in our homes? How often to we lose ourselves in negative thoughts, comparing ourselves to others? Why do we entertain these ridiculous ideas?

In doing so, we are playing the ultimate losing game. So why bother to play?

Why do we waste our days away wishing for better ones? Why do we feel so rushed to ‘get there’? Why can’t we savor where we are in life… mistakes, imperfections, blemishes and all?

A beautiful home… a beautiful life, is not and will never be perfect. Isn’t that the beauty of it? To find joy and contentment and confidence in all of that?

It’s hard not to struggle with a case of ‘the grass is always greeners’. How does that come out when we’re trying to figure out who we really are?

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The WWW is saturated with beautiful ideas and inspiring websites. It’s easy to get caught up in feeling inadequate, and comparing ourselves to others. Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that even the pretty magazines have their glossy shots, and a whole lot of junk shoved out of the way in the background.

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This is the challenge behind what I do. To share our ideas, without adding to the pressure. To remind you of the reality behind it all. Our beds aren’t made. The laundry is piled and there is a life to be lived. That is okay.

I think the pressure we feel, comes from ourselves. I think it’s an issue, because we allow ourselves to fall victim to the comparison game.

Love something, not because someone else has it. Not because of influential trends. Not because we feel pressured to please our mother in law’s sister’s mom…. We need to love our home as we learn to create, edit and appreciate it for what it is… made of what we love. In the present. Being happily content with what we have in the meantime.

Our choices, and our current, real life struggles are sometimes reflected quite clearly in our homes. Do you find it easy to get a bad case of ‘the inadequacies’ and sucked in to the comparison game? How can this play out in our homes, if we’re not careful?


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39 Responses to buyer’s remorse anony : the comparison game

  1. Claudia Konkus says:

    Oh, how I know those comparison games. When I was just married, my husband and I befriended a couple fifteen years older than us. They lived in this beautiful and inviting house and after each visit I would feel so unhappy in my own abode furnished with hand-me-downs. But, they had a lot more money and we were on a fixed income with nothing left at the end of the month. Only time will get you we’re you want to be. Three years ago I went back to college (at age 44) to get my degree. I also worked full time. My house was in a constant state of disarray. Instead of fretting and stressing about it I told everyone that my house was broken into and the thieves left a mess ( with a wink). My friends thought it was funny and nobody thought less of me. That was a huge lesson to be learned. Good for you to be honest and approach the subject. We all need to be be a bit kinder with ourselves and others. Mistakes are to be learned from, even if it takes two times ;)!

    • Claudia- I couldn’t agree more. Glad to know I’m not the only one! Time is a true testament, as well. ;} And congratulations on your decision to go back to school! That’s awesome. Hurray for contentment and not playing that comparison game!

  2. Lindsay Redd says:

    Love love love this! I have followed your blog for a while. You have a beautiful home and a beautiful way of writing… Thanks for sharing. I am completely in love with your sofa, mosaic pictures and lets just say everything about your living room. And your perspective on your writing today was spot on for me. It’s something my brother and I call our happy pie. Too often we find ourselves thinking if someone has something, does something or is happy they take directly from our happy pie. Rather then each having our own. Ha ha. Thanks again.

  3. JoniH says:

    Thank you so much! You have voiced what I feel…

  4. Boy are you speaking out loud to me this morning, friend! As I sit here potty training my 2.5 year old daughter, surrounded by chaos, I’m simply overwhelmed by the “undone-ness” of our house that we’ve lived in for almost 2 years. I have this crazy idea that since we’re married adults, with children and jobs, our home should be furnished, uncluttered, and decorated for the appropriate holiday (like everyone else’s I see on their blog or facebook or instagram). I have almost-rotting Mickey Mouse pumpkins on my front steps, and no desire to put up the Christmas tree just yet. I’d just like to get the clutter off the kitchen counters! Anyway, I am definitely guilty of letting the comparison game get me down…It’s good to read that you do too, because I so admire you and your lovely home and family :} Thank you for sharing!

  5. Debbie says:

    Truer words have never been spoken – thank you for sharing!

  6. Colleen says:

    Thank you for this post, you really nailed the heart of the issues a lot of us face. We all love blogs and Pinterest and HGTV, etc. but it does leave us feeling a little “less than”, no question about it. I find myself gravitating more toward blogs (and some dot coms/nets) that are truly “keeping it real” and they admit they are not perfect and are perfectly happy showing us their finished treasures or projects and then showing us the mess as well. I’m over all the blogs turned dot coms that put on a brave face of perfection, it’s not helping the reader stay connected the way we want to be on a more personal and relatible level. I think in the end, we all want to feel like we’re good enough and that what we share in blog land or create in our own homes is enough. After all, if we all did the same thing and decorated the same way, it would be so boring! I say, let your freak flag fly and love yourself enough to let it be what it is. You will without realizing it, inspire many.

  7. Very insightful and well written. I think comparison can rob us of joy faster than almost anything else in life. We can be utterly delighted with what we have, until we see that “others” have something different, or until someone makes a negative remark, then we are overcome with feelings that we made the wrong choice. How freeing it is to realize that we need only please ourselves, and those whose lives are directly affected by our choices!!

  8. Ashley says:

    Oh my, I get myself all caught up in this ALL-THE-TIME. The hubs and I are in the process of building an industrial cabin with a very open loft feel. We’ve got some really nice leather couches which we have loved for about 6 years, but they are just not gonna do in the new abode. I hate the idea of getting rid of them just because I’m not feeling them in the new space, but I do -not- want to orchestrate my new home’s decor in order to allow those couches to make sense.

    I’m totally in love with your chesterfield, but I when I browse magazines I feel myself pulled toward sectional instead. I’m honestly so torn; we might end up hanging out of box crates for a while!

  9. Irma Kentie says:

    I certainly can relate to buyers remorse. But probably there have been other purchases that I didn’t make, that I wish I had,too. But sometimes I rationalize why not to buy an item so much, that years later, still, I wish I had bought those charming, items that would really add to my decor.
    But getting on to the whole comparison thing. For the last few years , it seems like every decorating blog featured a lot of white kitchens, white slip covers , white trim, very muted colors. I was growing very frustrated. My Craftsman home is filled with a lot of medium brown,wood trim work and oak wood floors. When we moved in 12 yrs.ago I painted the rooms in natural earth colors. Sage green, tans, wheat, and yellow. And it suits this house very well. But because of my comparing I wrestled with painting all the trim work and lightening up the rooms. Then, one day I happened upon blogs featuring restorations of Craftsman homes. Admiring these persevering, homeowners for their fortitude in stripping off many layers of paint, and wallpaper, gave me pause. My home already had been through this process by PO. I started to appreciate my home more and now I’m embracing my darker, but richer looking decor. A Craftsman home always shows best at night. And I’ve received many compliments over the years. But now I’m content that, for me, the ‘ grass is not greener ‘ in blogland. It’s just different.

  10. My favorite quote that you posted was “Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle.” It is so hard not to compare ourselves with others and their accomplishments. I have encountered this with my blog. I have made progress but in my effort to improve my blog I read a lot of other blogs. Sometimes instead of it encouraging me I get discouraged because it seems to take too long. I need to relax and enjoy the process. I need not be in such a hurry.

  11. I think you were speaking to me, Ashley ~ I’m convicted! But admitting the problem is the first step, right? :)
    Thanks for sharing!!
    xo Heidi

  12. Sherrie says:

    How smart you are! Yes when you compare yourself you will always fail. Getting there is the story! No matter what I do I know it has a beginning a middle and ending. So I love the beginning no matter how hard.
    I am a leather girl. So I prefer leather couches. I need two new ones and I am taking my time to find the prefers one. For me I have learned not to buy cheap and to buy what I love. I change out everything else in my house but my couches live here a very long time.
    I admire the women that can pull a room together like magic. It takes me a lot of time. When I found something or make something I know at that moment it is perfect. But each room takes a lot of time. Ever since our remodel decorating and finding the right thing for each room has been a effort. Most of my rooms are coming together but one room still doesn’t have lamp shades. Because I want the right ones I won’t make do. Drives my Husband nuts, but that’s my job. Great post loved it.

  13. thank you so much for this post. I absolutely needed to read it. My process to becoming an ‘adult’ in the sense of having a home and actually buying furniture was an incredibly long one. Actually, I inherited my first home when I married my husband, and we’ve just used his furniture {which is beige and exactly the opposite of anything I would ever choose}. Over the past 3 years, I’ve gradually removed piece after piece of ugly furniture, and accepted ‘freebies’ from family and friends. And the end result was being even more overwhelmed by the disorder. So, when we moved I determined to not add a single thing to my house that I didn’t love, and I mean ‘love in all capital letters’ love. Your blog is actually what inspired me to make that decision. I’ve found myself chomping at the bit lately to speed up the process of filling my house… so, perfect timing on this post! Thanks!

  14. Wow this is just what I needed to hear today, thanks!

  15. Clover says:

    Talk about buyers remorse. Before kids we OWNED a townhouse by the beach. I got pregnant and decided we needed “the house” (suburbia) only now to be short selling at a huge loss and RENTING a townhouse down by the beach. Tough lessons. Be glad yours was only a sofa. Often the hardest lessons are just what we needed.

  16. Debra says:

    Wow, cut straight to my heart. I’m so glad I took a minute to read this before going to sleep tonight. We just moved 2000 miles with our two little kids into a new house a month ago, and we came with no furniture and a miniscule budget to furnish this place. Every day I look around at the sparse furniture and bare walls, feeling discouraged at how half-done everything is and wondering when I will find the time and resources to make this house a home. Thanks for the timely reminder to choose contentment right where I am at, and to embrace being in process.

  17. Rhonda says:

    Oh, reading this post could not have come at a more perfect time as I stare at MY leather monstrosities that my Dave Ramsey hubby won’t let me get rid of (cause they’re perfectly fine, right?) and as I long to do projects in my home that I just don’t have the funds for right now… ugh. Frustrating. Disappointing.

    Thanks for the dose of perspective—

  18. Thank you. Simply, thank you. I was feeling the slam today and your post was a relief to read.

  19. Naomi W. says:

    Thanks for your encouraging post. You help bring us back to reality. Comparison to others only makes us feel worse. We just need to be who we are!

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  21. Mary says:

    You are very wise. Thank you for addressing the core of the matter. I think that is what drives too many of us in our decorating, in our fashion we wear, in our car choices, etc.
    An odd thing happened when we bought a second home and tried to take some time to make it a home. People wanted to come and visit, and they would always say, “Why don’t you finish one room at a time instead of starting all these projects?” –They never realized that if I only worked on the living room or master bedroom, or kitchen, they would have no bed or mattress to sleep on, there would be a cement floor in their room, their bathroom would not have a new, unstained toilet, and a shower without moldy grout. Eleven different things were leaking when we took ownership, so there priorities.

  22. Tennille says:

    Thanks for this post Ashley. It’s hilarious to read this after just about having a mental breakdown last night over how to set up my craft room and create the “perfect” storage system. Good grief! The pressure we put on ourselves is just pure craziness. Please continue to create vulnerable posts that help the rest of “Get Real”. And, every once in a while when you’re feeling really brave, post the “after” pictures of a shoot and then do a little panormic shot of the rest of your house so we can see what it really looks like when you’re creating and living. Have a blessed day! (OMG I just caught my toddler writing on the wall with lime green pen while I was typing. Well, that wall is definitely less than perfect now. hahahaha!!)

  23. Katelyn says:

    I just started following your blog a few days ago, and I am loving EVERYTHING about it. This post really hit home with me. My boyfriend and I purchased our first home four and a half months ago, and I haven’t stopped ‘improving it’ since the day we moved in. I am now finished the main floor (aside from floors – those will have to wait until we have a little more saved up) and I am so happy to be done (for now) and take a break. When you speak about ‘striving to please everyone else and prove a point’, that’s exactly where I’ve been up. I wanted to move out of our apartment and buy a home SO BAD, and we were finally able to do that. Now that I had the home, I wanted to continually modify it. Why is it so hard to just sit down, take a break, and enjoy what we’ve got right now? I’m finally getting to that point, and reading this post was exactly the little push I needed.

    Thank you for your ‘realness’ and I look forward to many many more enjoyable posts :)

  24. Valerie Malone says:

    What a refreshing read, thank you! My family recently relocated to Canada from the States and we moved into a big ‘ole giant builder beige spec home. We’re renting so I can’t paint all the walls/cabinets and do small the small reno’s that are calling my name. And because this house is so much bigger we don’t even have enough furniture to fill it, and don’t have the money to buy everything we want now. (I am also an interior designer so this is killing me!) But yes, these are first world problems for sure. It’s really helpful to know that others feel this pain of comparison too. I so appreciate your honesty, that’s why your blog is so incredibly successful. Thanks for letting us into your world!! It brings some happy to my everyday.
    xo!
    Val

  25. Amy says:

    I have struggled with this too. I’ve moved so many times & felt the pressure each time to fill up my house & have pictures on the walls & chotckes placed in a month. It’s only been in the last 2 years that I’ve learned to wait. Wait. That’ss so hard for me. To learn to live with something unfinished was actually LIBERATING. Right now I have had multiple paint samples on my bathroom wall, and an unfinished mirror in my bathroom for a month. And it feels good. Because I know I’m ok with myself and where I am. It took a long time to learn to WAIT. I’ve been more pleased with what I’ve accomplished by waiting, than I ever did by rushing. That’s huge personal growth for me!

  26. Angela says:

    Thank you! I needed to read this today!

  27. Susan Todd says:

    OMG. I just read your post (a little behind in blog reading. :) YOU are ME. Really, you are. I bought a house four years ago (divorce), and RUSHED to put furniture in it, so that it wouldn’t be empty, and that i would have things. STUPID. Now, I wish I would have waited and taken my time. After finding your blog, and many others, there are so many things you can do with things you “find”…..re-do’s, makeovers, etc., that would have made my house look much prettier now. ACK. WHYYYYYYY do I do this to myself??? I always feel like I have to buy it “now”, because it might not be there when I come back. Then, I don’t even want it LOL. I am going to start buying pieces that I truly LOVE, and start selling the other pieces……thanks for this read. Really hit home. LOVE LOVE LOVE your home and blog!!!

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  29. Stephanie says:

    Inspirational. Thank you.