A few weeks ago, our team decided to start writing some longer, more personal posts. Inspired by essay contests we saw in magazines, we thought it would be more meaningful to reflect on the decisions we made at home that weren’t related directly to products or the latest design trends. While we all love being able to discuss the objects and decorations that make our home look and feel good, we also love getting the the chance to talk about the decisions we’ve made that make our houses feel like home. Last week Amy shared her thoughts about living for now (rather than waiting for ‘future living’) and this week I’m sharing my most meaningful decision.
Earlier this year I came out. It wasn’t a decision I expected to have such a huge impact on my home life, but it’s completely changed the way my home looks and feels- and how I live inside it. Until this spring, I’d spent the last five or six years slowly unlearning all of the confidence I had at home. I used to pick bold paint colors with reckless (and excited) abandon, choose and make-over furniture without hesitation and have rooms decorated and ready shortly after moving in. But then slowly, without noticing, I started to doubt my gut instincts and try, without success, to create a home that looked the way I thought it should look. I felt so much pressure to have a space that looked perfect that I forgot to listen to what felt right and felt like home to me. I was struggling to keep up an appearance, even in my most private and sacred of spaces. That process was exhausting and, after a lot of deep thought and difficult work, I decided to let go.
That year and a half of learning to live honestly and heal myself- and my home- was messy. Literally. I moved into a tiny apartment near our D*S offices and never really unpacked. For a year and a half. When I found a new space and moved this summer, I found boxes I’d packed ages ago and never even opened. I had needed that time to heal emotionally and get back in touch with the decisions and feelings that make me who I am. It wasn’t until that moment that I started to truly get my confidence back at home. And that confidence was what lead me to live openly, make quick but true decisions (like getting a dog and moving to a different apartment near the park) and finally create a home that feels true to who I am and lets me welcome guests and loved ones inside the way I’ve always wanted to.
*All photos by Max Tielman
[Continued after the jump…]
Amy and I have always talked about a shared belief we have, that when you finally accept and appreciate the life you have, the universe seems to give you the things you’ve always wanted. That felt true for me this summer when I met the person who would make my life feel fuller, happier and more real than it ever has. I fell in love with the most amazing woman, Julia, with whom I now feel completely honored and blessed to be building a home and life. We’ve worked together, without hesitation or conflict (even after 3 trips to Ikea in one week) to decorate the big empty apartment I found for myself and create a home that reflects both of our personalities and interests. Julia writes about food and tests (and creates) some of the most beautiful meals for cookbooks, so our kitchen was the first space I decided to tackle with my new-found home confidence.
I’ve found that most people assume I live in a colorful, pattern-filled home that looks like the things we post here on the site. But getting in touch with myself taught me I actually wanted to live in a home that looked like the opposite of that. After being surrounded by color and pattern all day, I wanted to come home to a clean, neutral space that welcomed me inside quietly. Julia felt the same way, so together we worked (along with some help from a very nice contractor, Scott) to turn our kitchen into a space we both wanted to be in all the time. The cabinets were changed, we got a new sink and shelves were installed to give us more functional space.* When the room was finished a few days later, we had a new kitchen that felt like the warm space I’d always wanted combined with the functional space we both needed. I didn’t expect it to have this effect, but the new kitchen gave us the energy to makeover not just the kitchen but the dining room, bedroom, closet and parts of the living room as well. That jolt of excitement from seeing the final result was all I needed to research, pick things out and finally create a home that felt welcoming, comfortable and calm.
While I’m sure small details will change here and there over the years, I feel like I finally have a house that feels like home. Not just because of the way it looks, but because the way it makes me feel. I look around and am constantly reminded of decisions that were made out of love, trust and a confidence that comes only from knowing who I really am and what I really want. That’s a sort of comfort you just can’t buy or pick out from a store. xo, grace
*I’ll be posting a full before & after of the kitchen soon, so stay tuned. You can still see painter’s tape on the walls, as I’ve got a few more adjustments to make. And for anyone curious, we did got our landlord’s permission before making over the kitchen. He was very excited about the upgrades.