In the last episode of Design Ramblings, Kriste and I brought up the question, “Who are we decorating for?” I was talking about my sons’ decorating their Christmas tree and how I had to restrain myself from trying to “fix” it…to make it “photo-worthy.” As I jerked my hands away from the tree, I thought about what kind of message that would send to them.
What you’re doing isn’t good enough. Step aside and let mommy make it the way SHE wants it even though she said it’s YOUR tree.
Marian, back away from the tree.
And I did. I let them weigh it down until the branches were sagging under mis-matched garlands, Lego pieces, blinky colorful lights and three toppers. And I cross my heart that I didn’t “fix” the tree the entire holiday season.
I’ve had a lot of moments like that throughout my life as a homemaker. I wrote about it a lot in my book, because I was really in the thick of finding contentment amid the smushed Cherrios in the carpet and was just on the heels of having the row of baby gear in the family room. I’ve had to learn (slowly) that the house isn’t all about ME and MY decorating wants and desires. There are three other people who live in this house and it has to be a refuge for them, not a place where they are going to get yelled at for messing up mommy’s stuff. (And that goes for Jeff, too.)
So, that’s what Kriste and I rambled about in this episode…
That is definitely still my tendency…to get hyper about the silliest things regarding the home and how things should look. But I have chilled out a lot over the years, especially as the kids have grown. I want them to be respectful of the things in our home, but I also want them to feel free to set up a huge Lego battle right in the middle of the family room or, as they were doing today, throw balloons at the ceiling fans to watch them get batted around.
So, what are some practical tips for staying balanced?
I said it in the video and I really do believe this – Things don’t have to be all about form or all about function. They can be both! There are so many clever ways to deal with the not-so-pretty things in everyday life and there are so many well-made, well-designed pieces of furniture that are comfortable and stylish. So, try to find a piece that looks the way you want it to, but also meets the practical need. (I love how my pot rack keeps the pots and pans we use everyday easy to reach. I intentionally look for pretty pans and colanders, so they look nice, but they also have to be great for cooking.)
You might have a clean idea of what you want, but you need to be okay with compromising. Slipcovers, for me, are a great way to compromise when it comes to soft furnishing. They can unify mis-matched pieces, they can be washed and they can hide ugly or worn fabric.
You need to know when to show preference to your spouse (or kid or roommate). Jeff was set on picking out his own desk chair. I kept insisting that I could find something that was comfortable and fit everything he was looking for, but also looked the way I wanted it to. After trying out lots of different desk chairs, he settled on the kind that are made of a heavy, mesh fabric. I can’t slipcover MESH! Why are you picking the one thing I can’t make look better?! I was a little irritated by this, because I thought he was picking that particular one on purpose! Once I got some much needed perspective, I recognized that it’s HIS desk chair and if that’s the one HE wants, I need to be okay with it. I have been able to pick every other chair in the house, for goodness’ sake. So, he happily sits in his mesh office chair.
Be okay with letting go of things that aren’t working. I think this can be the hardest one. You make a change or purchase something and now things look the way you always wanted them to, but you come to see that it’s totally impractical. People are tripping over it or bumping their head on it. It doesn’t provide enough storage. It’s blocking a traffic path. It falls over at least three times a day. Whatever the situation, if you see that your decor isn’t working for your family, let it go. Work to find a creative solution that will address the needs and the wants.
So, how do you balance your personal preferences vs. those who live in the house with you?
By the way, Happy July 4th!
It’s a special day in our family, not just because it’s Independence Day, but because it was my Opa’s birthday. He was born on the 4th of July and, when he was a kid, his mom told him all of the fireworks were for him. He was really a great man and we named our oldest son after him. Happy birthday, Opa. We miss you.