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“Never decorate all at once. ‘When you do it all at once, you make mistakes,’ explains Fredéric Amico. Take your time trying out different pieces, and never settle.” —Architectural Digest’s Clever (new online destination for decor ideas, quoting French actor and artist Fredéric Amico (view his Paris loft here)
Our wardrobe, our mind, our relationships all ebb and flow, grow, migrate, wander and progress as much as we choose to let them, and our sancturaries need not be any different.
Reflect upon your childhood bedroom and the first time your parents gave you permission to decorate it as you pleased – paint color, linens and all (or maybe you took the initiative all on your own). Then graduate to your first home away from home – perhaps your dorm, perhaps an apartment. Then remember the next home and the next as your life began to unfold.
I can remember vividly during my junior year in high school wielding a paintbrush, ushering in a double bed, selecting the wallpaper for the accent wall and reveling in my very own “grown-up” sanctuary. Then college arrived, and it was with my first apartment sophomore year that furniture was needed, and much was cheap and yard sale must-have finds, but there were treasures that I brought with me from my childhood home – that black rod-iron bed, dishware found at an unexpected estate sale, pictures that held dear meaning. And then the first “adult” apartment during graduate school, living on my own – daring to paint an entire wall red and framing everything in gold. It reflected my choice at the time, and having a choice and a home that was all my own, felt liberating. Never before have I painted a wall red – it took three, at least, coats to make it as I had hoped. But I don’t regret it for a moment.
Since then, the homes I have rented or owned have been unique unto themselves, but one detail always remains constant, the woman living within the four walls – me.
Even so, each home of which my paycheck has paid the monthly mortgage or rent, has gradually evolved to reflect more of what has shaped me and influenced me and inspired me to become the person I am today. And as much as we, okay, maybe this was just me, moreso especially in my earlier years of homeownership, may want our homes to come together immediately to reflect the aesthetic we desire and see in our mind’s eye, our most authentic sanctuary will be a reflection of patience, of thoughtfulness and of careful selection.
Not all of us have the luxury of being able to live in a home we love for decades, and others might state that it is a luxury to be able to move frequently based on curiosity and opportunities, but either way, we can take what means the most with us to our next home. So that no matter where we go, our journey can be reflected within the four walls of our sanctuary.
Today I’d like to share with you ways that you can begin to decorate your sanctuary to not only reflect your journey which will offer comfort and confidence each time you cross the threshold, but also be welcoming to most importantly the inhabitants, but guests who are invited to visit as well.
In last Wednesday’s post, I shared eight small, but unique ways to add your signature to your sanctuary, many of which, as you will discover, reflect my journey thus far over the past 40 years. And today I’d like to share less of the specific things to include and more the concepts to consider when deciding what should hang on your walls, fill your rooms and welcome you home.
1.Does it warm your heart and lift your spirits?
Ask yourself this question when deciding what pictures, paintings, souvenirs, etc. any item that doesn’t perform a function, but rather only adorns a wall, tabletop or shelf, to display.
Being reminded of what you are capable of, being reminded of the love that was felt and expressed, being reminded of a dream that came true, all of these reminders are helpful and healthy to have in your home especially on those days and during those moments we need comfort and confidence.
2. What function does it provide?
Being clear about the function that an item provides – literally or figuratively (i.e. a candleholder, a vase, a settee, a bench (literal); painting, particular coffee table books, throw pillows (figurative) — clarifies in your mind why you are considering it for your home. If the reason is because it is the color of the year, or my favorite influencer has one, unless your signature for decor is trendy, perhaps find a deeper purpose for welcoming it into your home. But if instead, the reason is to provide warmth, to lift my spirits, to hold my favorite bunch of flowers and fit perfectly on that particular tabletop, then by all means, welcome it into your home.
“Have nothing in your home that you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”—William Morris
With points #1 & #2, it may appear that I am simply further describing what William Morris has taught decorators for years, and if your interpretation of the quote is similar to mine, then you are in good company, but for me, it goes deeper. What does beautiful mean?
Beautiful must go deeper, beauty can only be present if it fits the two criteria above in a more visceral part of our well-being. There are many items that are beautiful – from traditional to modern designs, art that speaks volumes from contemporary to acclaimed icons, but if it doesn’t mean something to you, if it doesn’t have a story as to why it spoke to you, then let someone else welcome it into their home.
I am continually editing my home, just as I am my closet, and with more evaluation, comes more removal of items that were bought at the spur of the moment, out of preceived need. Gradually, those items, if they don’t possess both of the criteria above, are replaced by items that do, and the home’s decor begins to feel more symphonic.
Speaking of symphonies, there is more criteria to consider when bringing it all together in your home.
3. Cost per true value
Similar to cost per wear, but slightly different, cost per true value is how much it costs to acquire the item while taking into account the value it will add to the overall quality of life over the amount of years you expect to own the item.
In other words, the antique dining table that costs $1000 and would fit perfectly in your dining room. No more need for separate tables, more dinner parties, more opportunity to share your passion for cooking and your partner’s passion for convivial conversation about the guests’ favorite topics. Many would way this is priceless and others would say you can do the same thing around two nondescript tables pulled together, but this is where the decision will be different for each person: What do you want to invest in? What is it that brings you and those you love great enjoyment and peace of mind?
Some of the items we bring into our homes will be treasure finds for pennies of what they are actually worth, or maybe not worth anything at all to anyone else, but priceless in our eyes. Whatever you choose to invest in monetarily, simply remember to ask the “cost per true value” question and answer it for yourself. No one else’s opinion (unless they are paying for it or a partner in the household) should matter.
4. Consider the decor that spoke to you on your travels
So many of TSLL readers/listeners of the podcast are travelers to all sorts of amazing places, large and small, far and near on the globe. Often it isn’t until we see, and then sometimes live with temporarily through staying in vacation rentals, a particular decor idea that we realize how excellent of an idea it is or how much it makes us feel at home even when we are far way.
As I shared in my post last Wednesday, one decor idea I would have never known about or considered was to use linen tablecloths as curtains. Perfect! And with my love of linen as it reminds me of France and my travels to the south and north of the country, the curtains I now have in my home not only serve a much needed function, but they also bring back fond memories.
5. Does it tell a story that you want to welcome into your home?
I have an antique English draw-leaf table that was the first dining room table I ever owned (you can see a bit of it in the above image on the far right). I purchased it in college after saving up $400 for it and have had it with me ever since (here is a similar one from One King’s Lane). No matter what size my home, I have always made a spot for it. Currently, it holds my record player which suits it perfectly as it brings the music and the news into my home.
As well, a chair from an individual who you knew or have known and simply remembering who they are makes you smile when you look at the piece furniture even if there are a few tears in the upholstery is a keeper.
Not everything in our homes will have long stories that will make your heart smile, but gradually, once we have what we need to live sufficiently, we can be thoughtful and careful about what we wish to bring into our sanctuaries. Often it actually becomes easier because we know precisely what is not only needed but also what would be cherished.
6. Include custom art or upholstered items with beloved fabrics from your travels or the past
Whether you are a painter or someone has painted or illustrated something for you, framing it gives you an original piece of art. Playful or serious, seasoned artists or first-timers, the art we display can share a glimpse of your story to those you invite into your home as well as remind you of what you care most about.
As well, choosing to upholster old furniture, or cover pillow or make blankets with fabrics found like traveling or found like going through your family’s attic are unique and signature ways of adding a decor idea that can’t be purchased in a retail store.
Transforming a house or an apartment into a home is a creative journey and revelation of our truest selves in many ways if we want it to be. Recognizing the power of communication and comfort and confidence that can transpire simply with the decor choices we make is a tool we can put in our toolbox to improve the quality of our lives. It is a process that requires patience, but one day when you least expect it or aren’t looking for it or trying to achieve it, you will find yourself sitting in that one particular spot in your home, passing the time doing something you love either on your own or with someone you love and you will feel the most at home you have ever felt. Such a feeling is not because your home is complete (it never will be), it is because you have curated a space that enables you to relax, recharge, share yourself without saying too much or saying just the right amount in each room of the home and knowing you did what you could with what you had.
It is my hope that you experience such moments often no matter where you are along your journey. Because, if my experience has taught me anything in each of the homes I have inhabited, it is possible and it only gets better with each step forward along the journey.
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~21 Parisian Decor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange’s New Decor Book, episode #228
~22 Tips for Creating a Grown-Up’s Living Space
~How to Create Surroundings for Everyday Contentment, episode #219
~Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets, four episodes on BritBox
~learn about each episode here
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #250
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~Image: an everyday moment captured in my living room, complete with a dog toy left on the floor – learn more about the photo in this post.