The home conundrum.
When dealing with new homes…the twelfth time, or the first… there’s something about that process. It can feel like a blessing and a curse. And when it comes down to it, it can feel like there’s a lot of pressure.
I received a few questions recently and see it time and time again from new construction to a new-to-you home. So today in the grand ideal of buyer’s remorse annoy and in an effort to be intentionally savvy with what we do, there’s a process of making that ever so intimidating transition from house to home… sensibly.
It’s like we’re fighting against the ever present, invisible machine in our culture of instant gratification. Taking the steps from ownership to making it a real home for your family can be a challenge. It’s 2,225 tiny little decisions that are exactly the opposite of those involved in purging… they come together to make a home. It can feel a bit like carving into a stone tablet, and it’s daunting… like you’ll be living with them forever. Sometimes depending on the contractor or the builders or former owners, you’ll be making these decisions under pressure if you get to make them at all.
I know, because I’ve been there. I think most of us have. If I could go back in time and say a few things to myself, and to all of those overwhelmed friends moving into a home, here’s a few of the main struggles where I would take a deep breath, and simply sleep on.
1. The Paint.
This traditionally comes first on the construction/move in list. It’s one of the final things they add in new construction, but it’s first when the home is officially yours, and the keys are in your hands. Last year when we were looking at some homes in the area, upon finding that we had two whopping choices for paint colors, I asked if we could just buy a brand new home from the builders without said paint colors on the wall and call it even. It felt like such a waste. This didn’t go over too well because there’s like, rules and stuff. But really, despite the underwhelming options process, who wants to pick their paint colors first? It’s counterintuitive in the process of designing a space.
a. When in doubt, go neutral.
There’s a reason most homes come with that not-so-fantastically-inspiring builder’s beige, but I’d go beyond that in tones that you love that can be considered neutral. Even whites. If you have to pick, if you’re in control and can only choose from a few, make it bearable and blendable for that ‘in the meantime’ phase. Even if you’re moving into an 80’s fabulous home and need to get rid of a garish color, stick with something livable for later.
b. You’ll change it anyway.
I had an art teacher in college who always said that paint was the most forgiving medium. While she was talking about oils, I apply this to everything. And unless it spills on your linen sofa (I just gave myself chills) it is forgiving. This is most definitely true for walls. In most cases, you will change those colors.
You have to wait for the dust to settle, before you know the true function of a space and beyond that, your design approach. Three months later whilst out shopping with your friends, you may spy a pillow that gives you heart palpitations. You’re inspired. Something sparks a flood of great ideas. It has coral accents and aqua piping. Will it match the firetruck red you initially chose for the dining room? Probably not.
So if you find yourself stressing, pick something light and easy to live with in the meantime. And remember, you’ll change most of it anyway in the process of living there and making it your own.
2. The ‘List’.
There’s always been this daunting ever looming list of immediate, seemingly necessary purchases that come with the big move. And we’ve stressed over them. This list usually includes (in no particular order) a 1. fence, 2. a fridge, 3. blinds. and so on. It all depends on where you live, but these are usually in the immediate purchases category.
It’s the same with everyone. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt a little stretched. But why are windows even on the list of immediate changes? We’ve all thrown some things on the windows and then regretted the look, wishing for something a little more ‘us’. But by then, (whether plantation shutters, blinds, or even curtains-we’ve all been there and it’s different for everyone) it feels too late. And the guilt settles in for the long haul. We’re stuck.
Why do we have it in our heads that say, paper is such a bad thing? Do we think that our neighbors will judge us by the amount of time said paper is on the window? It would address the issue of privacy while we figured it out. Are we in a rush to flank the windows with the latest and greatest thing we’ll probably resent in a month? Because quick doesn’t always mean good. And fast isn’t always efficient or attractive. I’ve never heard anyone say that they regretted taking their time in planning a space. I’m kind of confused as to why windows aren’t included in that.
There is no such thing as instant gratification in well-planned spaces. Instant and well-planned in themselves are contradictions, aren’t they? It all comes down to what you want to spend your time doing, but great design takes time. They don’t all have to match. And they certainly don’t all have to be immediate. Sleep on it. You’ll be glad you did. And consider it extra money in your pocket while you think through those options.
3. The pieces.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you know where I’m going with this one. When we were younger, we were eager to buy furniture to fill a space. Almost as if to impress a bunch of people when they came over for some rando party I had dreamed up in my head. And chances are, those people didn’t even notice. It’s what grown-ups do, right? Poof! Here’s a house. Poof! Here’s our furniture.
Poof! Here’s our… debt.
Why do we do this? Question yourself when you feel pressured in this world of the grass is always green-ers. Let your rooms breathe for a while.
No, this doesn’t apply to everything. When I first spied this quote, I was all, ‘that’s a good story, but we have college educations to pay for, mouths to feed, and at this rate I’ll never make our house a home’. You guys know I truly believe the best spaces are collected over time, with handmade and on the cheap. What’s that phrase about an artist shining through with their limitations? Handmade certainly takes time. There’s something about creating something on your own that makes you think through the process. But there’s also something about those key, dependable pieces that just won’t fail you because you did take your time, think through the process, and save for them. (see: our never ending sofa conundrum. I should have cried once. Instead, I cried a total of three times, with small temper tantrums sprinkled in between.) That’s where I apply this phrase. Take your time. Breathe. Wait and save for what you truly love.
All things in moderation, and for the love of all things credit card debt don’t ruin your future over a dining room set you’ll resent in five years by the time you finally pay it off. Gross.
These are the things I would tell myself. These are the things I wouldn’t lose my head over. These are the things I’m happy to sleep on. It’s true what they say… good things come to those who wait. Figuring out this house to home stuff can be intimidating. But in embracing the process, is where you’ll discover your awesome style.
I found this little gem recently, and you’ll love what she has to say. Click through as well to the Perisian Apartment. It’s mesmerizing in all it’s glory. I am absolutely in love.
So where do you think the pressure comes from? If you could have a do over, what would you gladly pass on? Why do we do this to ourselves?
Have an inspired day, lovelies!