Five Mistakes I Made Decorating My First Home

mistakes decorating home lulu georgia connecticut

Five Mistakes I Made Decorating My First Home

L I F E . S T Y L E D .

Here are all the mistakes I made decorating my first house – so you don’t have to!

Lately, as we’ve been doing some late-summer* cleaning and purging bulk items like old mattresses, rugs, and furniture, I’ve been struck with how grateful I am that we weren’t in a position to do any major home renovations or any serious furniture investments when we moved into our first house.  Having scarcely had the freedom to hang a picture on a wall without the approval of a landlord, much less choose paint colors or install trim, I hadn’t really had a reason to devote myself to interiors by the time we moved into a place of our own.  The result?  I made lots and lots of mistakes that are currently for sale on Facebook Marketplace. 

1. Not respecting the style of my home

We live in a colonial in Connecticut, which is lovely in and of itself, but at the time we purchased three years ago, the California eclectic vibe reigned supreme.  While I still love to pull from there to give our home an updated edge (and my husband is from California, so I use that as an excuse to appropriate that aesthetic), I’m finding ways to give a subtle nod to modern styles without creating anything artificial.  It helps that I’ve seen some of my favorite designers move towards more restrained and sophisticated looks that make for an easy transition into our East Coast home.

2. Buying the wrong dang rug size

Unless you’re in a very small space, 5 x 7 rugs are essentially useless.  Retailers know that.  That’s why they are all a mere fraction of the price of a more practical 6 x 9 or larger.  After having just sold not one but three of my 5 x 7 rugs that just didn’t work for our spaces, it’s a mistake I’ll never make again.  I also recently fell in love with this rug for my gender-neutral nursery, but the larger size was way out of my budget.  I layered the 4 x 6 (purchased on sale!) over a larger natural fiber rug from IKEA and voila!  The vibe I wanted at a reasonable price. 

3. Buying throwaway furniture

We moved from a studio apartment to a 3 bedroom house, so simply furnishing the whole place was a project.  It’s natural to want it to be all done at once, but for us — and, I’d guess, for most people — that wasn’t realistic.  Not if we wanted quality, anyways.  Of the furniture I purchased quickly from places like Wayfair and Target, much of it already needs to be replaced.  On the flip side, the quality items I hunted down on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are things I plan on keeping for years; I paid less for our Restoration Hardware dining room table and dresser purchased second hand than I would have for a new piece from IKEA, and it’s in wonderful condition.

4. Disregarding functionality

For years, probably since the dawn of Pinterest, I’ve had that Coco Chanel quote rolling around in my brain:  “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”  What she says about fashion is utterly applicable to interiors:  the spaces we inhabit must meet the needs of how we live, and, I’d argue, be conducive to living well.  This means things like floor plans that are easy to navigate, sitting areas that encourage conversation, and closets or nooks that help keep us organized.  Also of note:  I originally wrote “Choosing aesthetics over functionality” for this bullet point, but thought better of it.  I’d hate to give the impression that the two are at odds, when I think the opposite is true:  a well-ordered space is beautiful, while I find a dysfunctional one irritating.

5. Comparing our beginning to everyone else’s middle

Another Pinterest quote for you!  I saw this back in the day, probably while I was scrolling through Pinterest and avoiding college papers, and I didn’t think much of it.  Fast-forward to attending birthday parties and playdates at the homes of couples who have had 10 or 15 more years to perfect and renovate their homes than we have enjoyed, and all that Internet wisdom resurfaced with full force.  Truthfully, it’s something I have to remind myself of often:  we moved into our house three years ago, about two months before our first child was born.  There was – and is – very little in the way of spare time for DIY’s or spare cash to hire anyone else.  So, for now, we’re living with a little bit of a disjointed vision, which is a struggle for someone who likes beauty and order and McGee & Co. furniture.  But it’s also okay.  In 10 or 15 years, maybe we’ll get there.

*written July 28, 2018