I guess there should be a pretty hefty disclaimer that this is clearly just mine and George’s opinion and not that of gospel. Every single person with a house out there is on their own quest to make it their own, and while interiors seem to be the influencer genre du jour, I thought I’d weigh in on an argument for not rushing every room in your house, nor feeling the pressure to thanks to glossy interior instagram pictures, and why that concept is working for us.
I’m a big advocate that while a house should be beautiful and exactly an accurate representation of style, it should also be functional. It should be able to survive whatever is thrown at it – piles of washing, cups that have been left behind from the night before and well, a dog – or delete/add as applicable. As well as two high functioning humans who aren’t the best at tidying… this was no mean feat when George and I were deciding how to redecorate our house in particular.
We purchased our house in 2017, and since then we have only fully gutted – flooring n’ all – one ‘room’ (more on this in a minute) – the lounge. This was my utter priority as this is the central family room. It had awful cheap flooring that was as thin as paper, as well as awful door fixtures and grubby old alcove. We got a decorator in to rip the floor out, wallpaper the walls and redo the paint and we had a brand new plushie squishy carpet fitted. I then started to fill it with furniture exactly how I knew I would still like it in a few years time. I opted for a soft pale white grey paint with a statement ‘concrete’ finish wallpaper on two walls, inspired by my love of a hotel in Los Angeles called ‘the LINE’. I tried where possible to invest in good wood furniture from independent sellers or well known online stores, and this is the only room in the house where we have completely avoided IKEA furniture. Nothing wrong with IKEA at all – I love IKEA actually, but I really wanted to try and invest in stuff that would last a bit longer and not show signs of wear and tear after a couple of years.
The other room we fairly quickly (read: within a year) converted was the garage. It was really no use to us as a garage because we have an adequate driveway to park the car on, and store other ‘outdoor’ bits in the shed. So we set work on converting it fully to another room of the house. This included adding in a stud wall behind the garage door, as well as electrics and getting to work on converting the awful cold brickwork and awful paint splattered car used concrete floor. We carpeted half of the garage, and did the other half in flooring as this is where our washing machine and tumble dryer (which also need replacing but are fine for now) are. This has become George’s room to be in when I’m working in the office, or if he wants to head off and play guitar. All the walls have been fully soundproofed for this purpose, so I can sit and watch tv in the lounge above the garage uninterrupted. This is where we also have our home ‘gym’ which is an exercise bike and a punch bag suspended from the ceiling.
These were all pretty sure fire things we knew exactly what we wanted to do with. Other than that, it’s been three years almost that we bought this house and we are still very much decorating. Infact, (and if you watch my vlogs you’ll have seen this!) we only just painted over the magnolia bedroom hellhole that we lived in for so long. We were about to embark on ripping out the fitted wardrobes and carpet before COVID took place, but that has now been put on hold. We lived with it for so long like this and I have no shame in that at all. It’s not always feasible to move into a house and do a complete 360 on all the rooms like instagram would have you feel, and within five months of moving in. George and I focussed more on our wedding and other things financially, and this in turn was a great thing because it allowed us to really ‘live’ in the house before we made any major changes to it. Almost three years on, and we’re now clear on exactly what gets used daily, where washing ends up, and what we need to do to make our house a complete home.
I know exactly what it’s like when you initially move in you want to rip out EVERYTHING and redo it asap. But it’s not always feasible. And you may find that the stuff you do in that moment, won’t work for you five years later. Or even a year later. I know of people who have had babies they didn’t originally plan for in the house and have had to completely redecorate to fit around them. Or now, as COVID is proving to all of us as our house becomes our workspace, that we have had to discard the decorative elements of the house to make it functional to work from. I’m not saying we have it perfect here, but nothing has changed in our household even with a new dog and COVID in the mix. But that’s because we didn’t rush anything, we lived in it for a good amount of time first and saw what worked and what didn’t and we tried to future proof it as we went along.
I also think there is a bit of a sustainability issue within the interior world, I see far too many encouraging of cheap flimsy furniture to fit a trend, that in six months will be thrown out. Of course it doesn’t really matter about paint.. but when it comes to furniture I really think more of an onus should be on encouraging furniture that lasts a long time. Our parents and their parents were brought up to invest in furniture that they kept with them from house to house (and probably still have!) but the sort of throwaway nature of the generations after can mean products are cheap and more ‘for show’ than for use. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend more money, not at all, what it means is to really consider a purchase and think about how you might use it in a few years, and not just in a few months.
One of the best things I’ve seen in the interiors world is the encouraging of salvaging furniture. There is so much oak, solid wood furniture that was built years ago to last, just sitting in charity shops or second hand furniture shops unloved in favour of the latest trendy piece. I love influencers like Mr Kate and Leanne Lim Walker who encourage thoughtful, sustainable purchases that can be up cycled to make beautiful modern furniture that will still last the test of time. I’m a firm believer in this and it takes me a while to purchase any furniture as I just don’t want to rush things. We desperately need a new bed frame to replace our literally broken IKEA bed frame but I am still very much shopping around for the solid wood one I want to keep for years and years.
I think really, it’s so important to remember that not everything you see online – much like any other influencer genre – is always accurate. I don’t move things out of shot or re-arrange my home for any home photos (ok ok I have been known to move a plant into frame…) and that’s because I very much want my house to be a real home. A lived in home. One that while it took years for us to redo and make our own, it was all done thoughtfully, and not regretfully on a rush. I know it’s really easy to see home trends and think “yes! I want that! right now!” but you need to really consider what works in your home and if it’s actually practical. In my opinion anyway.
With all this popping up as a new popular genre, I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s okay to be a slow renovator or decorator. Make your house truly the home you want it to be, and don’t feel the weight of any pressure on your shoulders in doing so. If it takes you two and a half years to paint a hallway white… *ahem*… then it took two and a half years. You’re not worthless, or any lesser than the glossy photos you see on instagram.
Your house is your home. And it’s you. Don’t let it consume you with worry about not keeping up with trends or shiny Pinterest photos.