This is the third and final Q&A in our series of design dilemma solutions, answering a stay-at-home-mother of three’s questions.
Design Dilemma #5: I know I get too in my head. I think the absence of friends who also love design stunts my creativity because I’m not inspired. I feel like the “traditional” home style is trendy right now…I don’t want my house to look like Pinterest, so I overthink it. I also stress about making the wrong choice because money is tight. It’s like playing chess with my home, money, time and deep love for homemaking.
Because we discussed navigating the time-cost/DIY vs. hiring out debate in a previous design dilemma, today, let’s consider how we find inspiration for our homes.
The problem of social media
Increasingly social media has become a place where large companies advertise to us. Certain accounts boost their posts either through company algorithms or paid boosts. If you like looking at pretty homes, you’ll see advertising tailored to that general preference but couldn’t capture the full range of the things that could strike you as beautiful.
We’ll miss a lot of captivating accounts in our feed. The ones we see are the ones that are trending or the ones with the big dollars behind them.
Direct marketing, likes, clicks, and shares become mental clutter or noise. Viewing similar videos and photographs often shifts our unconscious perception of what is expected. Our minds want to pick up on patterns, but the patterns on social media are not patterns in the natural order. They cannot capture the complexity of time needed, the slow pacing, and the personal cost of the natural process of home design, art, or even cake decorating.
For a person looking for design inspiration, I recommend getting away from social media.
Hit the books
I love the idea you mentioned in past conversations about buying books at yard sales. Design books are abundant and can be found at yard sales, thrift stores used book stores, and, of course, the local library.
Looking at books unhindered by digital interruptions gives you the space and quiet to finally explore what appeals to you. Take some time and see what you love; you might be surprised.
The same can be said of home tours, if you can find them, or walking down the sidewalk in beautiful neighborhoods and basking in their curb appeal.
See the sights
Finding inspiration in home decorating requires the same things as finding inspiration in any creative endeavor sometimes.
We need to get away from the project itself and reset.
Look at those books or houses for the sheer pleasure of it.
Go for a walk. Walk in places where you admire the architecture, visit an art gallery or a museum. Try to find those places that look like the books you’re drawn to.
For me, that means our local historical societies.
When your cup is full of images and ideas that inspire you generally, it gets those creative juices flowing, as they say.
And then return to the project at hand
You return to your home refreshed, your creativity cup filled and ready to see it with new eyes; your brain will be prepared to connect the dots.
That doesn’t necessarily make the process of the chess game more straightforward, but it can help give you a vision of where you want to go.
Continue to try to quiet the voices of those who have an easy time or easy money. Stay focused on the project at hand. You’re decorating this home for you and your family.
You, like me, believe that a house has something of a soul of its own. Part of living in it is listening to what will fit it best and the family within it. That requires openness and observation.
Give yourself the time and space to decide. When you do that, I am confident you’ll make the right decisions.
“Falling is part of learning”
When my kids tried to teach themselves to roller skate, I told them often “Falling is part of learning”. I said it so often that they repeated it for years to come.
All decorating comes with a learning curve and a few “What was I thinking?” moments. We might think something will solve the problems only to learn it won’t. But each time we go through that, we learn lessons that make a difference. Then, when you are ready for the big remodel, if you have that in your future, you will know what you like because you went through all these little small decisions discovering that you prefer spice racks out in the open, floor-length curtains, and open shelves.
Enjoy the process. Whenever you hear that doubtful voice telling you there is only one right decision, turn away and look at those lilies of the field.