While purging and no-spending through February and into March, I found myself thinking a lot about my favorite things vs. things I have as a default. No matter how many times I’ve purged over the years and taken the oath to be intentional about every single thing that enters our home, it’s so easy to be a lenient gatekeeper and to become complicit in bringing in things that are not well-loved and/or well-used. When you’re managing an entire house – bills, laundry, meals, schedules, homework, not to mention work, it can be a low priority. Sometimes you just need to grab something quickly. Sometimes you buy things on impulse. Sometimes a bargain was just too good or it’s hard to refuse a hand-me-down. But as I’ve been thoroughly cleaning out cabinets and drawers, closets, and cupboards and I’ve been living with it, I’m getting so much more joy out of all of the things I own. I’m no longer skipping over the clutter to get to the good stuff.
It’s all the good stuff.
As I’ve been going through this journey, I’ve had this thought – Everyone should all have a house full of favorites.
That doesn’t mean we own everything we want, but it means we want everything we already own. Not only do we want it, but we love it and use it. Doesn’t that sound delightful?
Here are some of my thoughts on curating a house full of favorites…
don’t buy things you don’t love
I have gotten much better about this, but I have certainly been guilty of buying things that I feel a little lukewarm about. I buy it because it’s the right price, because it’s a good fit, because I’ve been looking for something similar for a long time and my patience is running thin. I buy it simply because I’m in the mood to have something new. A few years ago, I established these simple buying rules – I have to love it AND I have to have the perfect place/use for it. Both have to be true and this has helped me be more selective, but not certainly not perfect.
Making some rules about what you will and won’t buy and adhering to them (even most of the time) will ultimately be one of the best ways to curate a house full of favorites.
I would also add to this that those rules can be applied to what you keep and what you sell/donate/give away. If you don’t love it and don’t have the perfect place for it (or whatever your rules are), it might be time to let it go.
buy quality, not quantity
I spent many, many years buying for quantity. How far can I stretch $50? While thriftiness is a great thing and we all want to stretch our money, it can also be a way to fill your house with good bargains that you feel mediocre about. I have learned that I would rather walk out of a store with one thing that makes me giddy instead of ten things that are okay, but were really good deals. This isn’t about the amount of money you spend, but what you spend it on.
When you shop, shop for favorites, not for bargains.
don’t have so much stuff that you can’t interact with it all in a meaningful way
I definitely have the “collector gene.” I enjoy the hunt for something whether it’s ironstone, art supplies, or seashells. This is a fantastic quality when you’re an antiques dealer, but it can get out of hand if things are coming in and nothing is going out. (This can also be an issue if you inherit an entire household from a family member who passed away.) You might have a house full of awesome things, but you probably don’t fully know what you have and you’re certainly not interacting with any of it in a meaningful way.
If going into your attic, basement, garage, shed, storage unit or even closets is like a suspenseful treasure hunt, then this is you! If your craft room is so stuffed with fabric and supplies that you have no room to create, this is you! You probably have a bunch of favorites and you can’t reach them, use them, or you don’t even know you have them! If you can’t interact with your stuff in a meaningful way, then you have too much stuff. (And some drawers in my studio were like this recently!)
appreciate your favorites
I think appreciating and using your current favorites is one of the best ways to foster contentment. When you really enjoy your things, you are far less likely to buy more things you don’t love and won’t use. As someone who likes to collect, I’ll hone in on something and then I don’t just want to buy one, I buy one and all of its friends! Collections are great but carefully curated collections of favorites that are displayed, used, and loved are even better.
I realize this whole concept is a bit romantic and idealistic. But, I really do think our environment matters. What we surround ourselves with matters. It can contribute to stress or it can inspire creativity. It can encourage togetherness and rest or it can be disruptive and distracting. It can remind us of people and places we love or it can be baggage, physical evidence of poor decisions, or roads not taken.
A part of our home feeling like a sanctuary, being a place that really feels like our home, is the details. While the four walls and the roof make a house, it’s what’s inside – the people and the things that populate it, that make it home.