The glamorous ideal (image via Elements of Style)
What I do love: the plantation shutters, the desk from my mom's childhood I re purposed as a dressing table, and a mirror I bought in London years ago.
There is no place like home! I am sure most of you would agree with me, being the design and domestic aficionados you are. Nowadays, with so much available to us as far as design-related media goes, it's easy to look at the fabulous homes of others and, while being inspired, also feel twinges of design insecurity/inferiority. For me, design blogs and shelter magazines provide an endless source of eye candy and inspiration. But, at times, it's kind of like air-brushed photos of celebs, the homes look fabulous, but most have been styled to death, airbrushed and fine-tuned to excess. That can leave ordinary folks like me with "habitat-image" issues, not unlike self image issues that are exacerbated by "perfect" images of skinny, polished celebrities. Too much focus on design-perfect homes can leave people with thoughts like, "gosh, my kitchen cabinets look too much like cabinets and not furniture" or "my bed skirt looks like it is waiting for a flood". Have you ever felt nauseated when you look at clutter on your counter, or groaned with disgust at the dust you let build up on your lampshades? I have. (I hate dust, but hate dusting even more. I'll admit it, sometimes I skip the dusting.)
Truth is, nobody's space looks perfect all of the time. At least not mine. Like the rest of life, 99% of the time there is something of a gulf between people's ideals and how things actually are. If you're always bemoaning the imperfect, you don't have a chance to enjoy the better aspects of what really is. It's sort of like accepting your appearance. You see your flaws and, yeah, there are things you might like to change, but you don't run out and get a plastic surgeon to overhaul every inch of you. You make the most of what you have and make peace with the genes you've been "dealt", the good ones and the not-so-good ones.
One thing I appreciate about European design magazines, is that while I am sure they do their share of tweaking before photos, they seem better at letting things look natural and lived-in than us perfection-oriented Americans. I am not campaigning for a magazine that comes in and takes candid photos of mediocre interiors or anything akin to "just rolled out of bed" sloppiness. Nobody wants to aspire to that. What I am saying is that I think we should be able to enjoy our homes in process, even if we have absolutely no current plans to change anything. Home is dear purely because it's our private refuge and sanctuary. A space where we can find shelter, express ourselves and be "us". That is what makes people's homes truly beautiful and inviting, not when we are just following trends, trying to impress people or purchasing pieces much as someone buys a "statement handbag". I love to see it when someone decorates with things that mean something to them, whether it's been passed down, gathered on travels or made by someone special. To me, these are the things that truly give my space it's own unique personality, whether or not it wows other people. It needs to fit who YOU are and how you live! Don't listen to anyone who tries to sell you anything by way of intimidation tactics or subtle put-down manipulation. Like those hairdressers who ask first time customers in a snide tone"WHO cut your hair last time?!"or store clerks who use that annoying phrase to wind up your checkout experience,"Will this be ALL?". As if, by saying that, they are going to convince you that you are incredibly cheap and need to buy a heck of a lot more before you will be able to impress them. Not nice. Not smart.
Yeah, I am certainly all for new projects, or making the most of your space, but I don't think we should succumb to cookie-cutter peer pressure or always having to strive for "perfection" in our homes. As a wise person once said, "It's not the destination that matters, it's the journey". Take time to just live and enjoy what you do have. It's a blessing to just have a place to call home, be it grand or humble. It's more than a lot of people have.