I recently moved into a house with my partner Chris. Combining households can be a complicated process, and since I have a tendency to be a Decor Dictator, I had to really check myself. We decided that instead of just bringing all our stuff to the new place, we would let go of things that didn’t really fit the space, and take time to find furniture and items that reflect our combined style. But after a week of living in a bare-bones house, I started to feel anxious, and had the urge to just go out and buy things (anything!) to fill the space. I wanted it to be “done,” so I wouldn’t feel embarrassed when I had friends over (or like an imposter, because everyone assumes I have a perfect house), but I knew that it just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t take the time to find the right things. I listened to a guided meditation later that night, which was about “letting go.” It reminded me that we can’t control everything, all the time, and to keep from going crazy, we need to be ok with that. I thought about all the reasons people feel unsatisfied with their home, or guilty, or embarrassed that it’s not “Pinterest worthy” and how these are often unnecessary feelings that keep us from sharing our space with others, or feeling comfortable in our home. I’m writing this blog to tell you that you don’t have to have the perfect house to feel good about it. I want to tell you that IT’S OK.
It’s OK to actually use your house
The first thing everyone says to me when I come over, no matter how cluttered or perfect their home is, is “don’t judge…” Why do we all have so much guilt about our homes? There is this lingering expectation from the recent past when people (Ok, let’s tell it like it is, WOMEN) were expected to have a home worthy of company at all times. As we’ve gotten busier, with both parents working, and work bleeding into our leisure time, we have less time, but the same high standards. Let me tell you that sometimes I don’t put my laundry away for a couple of days. Who cares? I have the book I’m currently reading on my coffee table, and my sweater from this morning draped over a chair. It’s ok for your home to show some signs of life. I once heard a story (who knows if it was true or not) about a model who rarely smiled because she was so afraid of getting wrinkles and laugh lines. Can you imagine not wanting to laugh and share deep emotions with others because you’re worried about how you look? Talk about missing the point. That’s how I view some of those perfect, sleek Pinterest houses. If your house looks like that 100% of the time, you’re probably missing out on real life. Let’s agree to stop feeling so guilty about the reality of our lives.
It’s ok for your home to be a work in progress.
Have you ever gotten to a point in life when you could say “This is it. I’ve reached the point where everything is perfect, and now I’m going to stay this way forever”? Of course not! That’s not how life works. The world is always changing, and we are evolving and growing with it. What worked for us, and the things we enjoyed in our 20s are not going to be the same in our 40s. The same is true for our environment. Our home is an extension of ourselves, and our things reflect our changing styles, interests, and habits. It may take a while to get to the point where it feels “done,” and even then, there will probably come a time when you want to change it again. Be ok with where you’re at in the process, and find beauty in the transition.
It’s OK if your house doesn’t look like it belongs on Pinterest
When people hear “organized,” I think the images that pop into their heads are shelves of matching labeled bins all lined up perfectly in a row, clear surfaces as far as the eye can see, or closets with clothes all lined up by color. These are images that make me drool…but for people out there in the real world, they can seem unattainable, impractical, or even sterile. When I say “organized” I mean that every item has a home, and that your living space is functional, i.e. you know where to find things, where to put them away, and there are systems in place that make it easy to go about your daily life smoothly. What this actually looks like can vary widely depending on the person. Some of my clients DO want the matching labeled bins, or they are motivated to “file fold” (picture Marie Kondo’s perfect t-shirt drawer) all their clothing every time they do laundry. For others, “organized” may look like labeled pull out bins under their bed, where they can throw items of clothing into the appropriate category, and then hide them away, because they don’t have the time or inclination to fold everything. There’s no right or wrong, as long as it works for you. Getting organized is not about making your home look impressive (although that’s an added bonus!), it’s all about feeling good in your own space. Don’t feel like your home has to look a certain way. Embrace your own particular style and personality!
If your home feels chaotic, out of control, and burdensome, then it may be time to make some changes, but don’t change things just to reach some ideal, and don’t waste time worrying about what others will think about your house. Think about what makes you happy, and how you want to live, and let that be your guide. Home sweeet home.