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Whatever You Do - Don't Follow the Rules

How designers are robbing us of the fun of designing.

Beautiful cat looking irked and avoiding eye contact while perched on dining room table.

You're killing me.

Thinking back, so many thoughtful "designers" have blessed me with a checklist to enlighten me on how I'm literally "killing" my home's design appeal. According to them, I'm breaking all the rules, and not in a good way. Yet, I have concrete evidence that I haven't killed my home, yet.

As a matter of fact, my home is quite alive. I mean all of the evidence of life is there - animals climbing the walls, children singing at the top of their lungs, people coming and going - life is happening in my home. Furthermore, my "not-so-perfect" home has a stunning record of "I LOVE your house," with each new guest we receive. People verify for me, not designers, that my home is alive and well.

Despite all of the design "mistakes," unfinished projects, and my grandma's severely outdated furniture, I somehow managed to make my house a home. An imperfect home that family and guests enjoy.

You see, I have to remember that designers are starting with a clean slate. No sentimental obligations to entwine family heirlooms into their neat and tidy design. And their clean slates begin with near-perfect or new homes. I, however, am starting with a cabin that is over 100 years old. A cabin with more character than a comic stand-off. I mean really, can a girl get ONE-level wall? Just one!?! And, let's not forget the loads of family heirlooms I couldn't possibly part with.

So, it's not a fair fight. But they are great ideas to draw inspiration from. And that, my friend, is what they are truly intend to be - inspiration. Not standards. Not even goals. So, come with me on this journey as we figure out how design fits into our homes.

Long apartment hallway with bike and a bold piece of art and deep blue green accent wall at end.

Style, what style?

First, let's start with style. My home is anything but what I see flooding Pinterest, Instagram, and blogs. I mean, "modern farmhouse," well we've got the farmhouse part down for sure. Muddy boots and all. Modern, not so much.

As far as style, it is not really modern farmhouse, cabin-y, hygge, Scandinavian, bohemian, industrial, or any other term used to describe a specific style. It has elements of all but I'd be hard-pressed to pin down an "exact" style of our home. Like most, I am drawn to many different styles. My home is filled with objects that I "love" and they did not exactly pass a design test before they were brought into the home. They passed simply because I liked them. I'm guessing many of the objects in your home are simply things you like as well.

And, let's face it, when I see these beautiful, spotless, perfectly styled modern farmhouse, living rooms, I can't help but want to change something about them albeit small. I want to ditch the oversized mono-chromatic clock that hangs above the mantle. In place of this cold and calculated clock, I imagine a giant blue and orange abstract piece of art right in its place. Why might you ask? Well, because I like it that way. And, if the truth is, you do, too.

And, because your beloved uncle painted it. And, it gives life, depth, adventure, and unpredictability - it reflects the complex person you really are.

Don't fall for perfect

Listen, I'm here to tell you, staging is real - people have paid jobs doing it and you don't want a staged life. You want what works for you. Also, I've found that budget is rarely the real challenge in a person adding personality to their home - confidence is. And, if that is the case with you, we're gonna tackle that here!

In the words of the great Salvador Dali, "Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it."

In the meantime, crank up some heavy tunes or do whatever it takes to get inspired and then take your first step!

Young woman facing lake and stunning snowcapped mountains with arms raised to the sky.

Freedom, oh freedom.

Enjoy the freedom to design. Yes, we all could use a few pointers every now and again, a fresh idea, or even just a pair of fresh eyes. So, go ahead and seek advice, and get some inspiration. Structure, checklist, color palette - they're all good ideas to start with. Just don't let them bog you down. Design is about freedom - freedom of expression, an expression of who you are.

The truth is, you really can't expect your house to look like what you see everywhere online - because that is the ESSENCE of design. Your home is just that, YOUR home - by definition it can't be anyone else's (well other than your family of course). You're not stagnate. You're not even a style. You are you in this very moment, in this season of your life. You're always changing - so should your environment be changing with you.

Change it up. Mix it up. Try things out. And, then change stuff up again! Have fun! And never lose sight that design is intended to reflect you - the designer.


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