It feels like every time I open my laptop there’s a headline (always in bold) warning me about the “10 Mistakes You’re Making at Home” or “The Biggest Design Disasters and How to Avoid Them!” At first I clicked on these links, thinking I must have been missing something huge, but then I quickly realized it’s the same old click bait that haunts all of our communities online: stories that try to scare people into thinking they should be more worried than they are.
Are there things most of us can avoid to save money and not make unwise investments in our homes? Totally. But I can promise you that a certain paint color or the placement of your couch isn’t one of them. Most of the things we do to decorate our homes, design-wise, are easy to change, move around or, if necessary, redo. I definitely don’t want to repaint my walls all the time, but if I need to, it’s definitely not a “disaster” — it’s just a color that doesn’t work for me anymore.
So to counteract some of the design hyperbole happening online, I thought I’d walk through 5 of the things I’ve learned to just let the heck go of at home. From frayed couch edges to less-than-perfect paint, it’s all a matter of looking at what you have and not what you don’t. Have a favorite “letting go” moment you want to share? I’d love to hear about the moments when you realized that having a home you love isn’t the same thing as a perfect home. xo, grace
*Disclaimer: If paying close attention to (or worrying about) any of these home decor issues doesn’t stress you out, that’s great! This list isn’t an attempt to say that it’s wrong to worry about these things, but rather a moment to remember that if you need to take a few things off your worry list, these are good places to start. Some of us find comfort in keeping things neat and tidy (and that’s great!) but not everyone does, so today I’m hoping to alleviate some of that stress for any of us who could use a dose of “relax” when it comes to worrying about “perfect” homes.
Scratches, dings and stains are a part of life: Back when I just had one pet, I worried about every tiny pet hair and scratch. I went so far as to cover everything in layers of blankets. But then I adopted our first dog, Hope. And then we adopted Winky, our second dog. And you know what happened? Our house turned into a big mess of pet hair, mud stains and scratches on the upholstery from where our pets look out the window. Sure, I wish they wouldn’t scratch the couch, but at the end of the day, I’d rather have a house full of happy, loving pets than a sofa without a ding on it. So if your pets are leaving their mark on things (within reason), don’t worry about anyone noticing — they’re far more likely to notice how loved and happy your pets are than to judge you about some rips on the sofa.
Paint can be changed: One of the least expensive (but most time consuming) changes you can make at home is paint. And while I understand the stress that can come with looking for the perfect color, I’ve also learned to let colors be what they are sometimes. I spent weeks looking for the perfect grey/green for our dining room. Then when we found it and invested in having it painted professionally on built-in cabinets (that were painted and then brought into our house), I realized it wasn’t the same color as the swatch. Was I a little bummed? Yeah. But I also took a moment to remember — it’s just paint. If it really bothers me I can redo it in a few years when I’m feeling up to a paint project. But until then, no one else knows (well now you all do, I guess) that it was supposed to be more grey than the forest green we now have (above). Also, when in doubt, get paint you can wash or scrub down — unless you don’t have pets or kids, you’re bound to need to clean it now and then.
Layouts will grow and change with time: One of the things I’ve never mastered about design is furniture layout. I’m always reimagining how rooms would look with sofas or chairs swapped and at the end of the day, I’ve come to realize there’s no such thing as one perfect layout. What works for me may not work for you, and what works for you NOW in life may not work later down the road when you add pets or kids (or new pieces of furniture) to your life. So if you feel like the layout doesn’t work, just move some pieces around and see what happens. Nothing needs to be precious or symmetrical or like a magazine — if you like your sofa covering a window, go for it. If it makes you happy, you can toss the “rules” out the window. (Above: our living room side table and artwork keeps moving around. We’ll settle on a style — maybe? — one day…)
It’s OK to have an empty wall: I love artwork and gallery walls as much as the next design blogger, but sometimes it’s best to let a wall be empty until you know what you really want to go there. With all the pressure that exists online to create and curate the perfect (and affordable! and indie!) art collection, it can be easy to forget that sometimes it’s nice to just let a wall be empty. No one will gawk when they walk in your home, they’ll just focus on talking to you and catching up. (That’s our empty hallway wall above, it’s been empty for two years and that’s okay with me.)
People who judge you for embracing what you love shouldn’t be regular house guests: If you’re worried about displaying your favorite framed album covers or having your beloved Rock Band set next to the TV — or just having a TV visible at all –– let those worries go. None of us have the exact same style, priorities or needs at home. And thank goodness, that’s what makes the world of home design so interesting. Holding yourself to someone else’s standards of “cool” is never a great idea. So if you really love your guitar collection and want to hang them above the sofa, go for it! There are plenty of cool ways to display and/or use just about everything (from toy robot collections and travel memorabilia to everyday accessories like remote controls and magazines) you love and use. So if you’re worried someone else will judge your home for embracing the “real” things you use and love every day, worry less about having them over and more about enjoying the things YOU have and use in your home.