It is funny, there are a few common phrases related to home that include the word settle. You can settle in. You can settle down. But I don’t think you should ever settle when it comes to the things that go in your home.
Am I Settling?
I think all decisions big and small in life should be weighed against this question…am I settling? Sure, on trivial things like where to go for lunch, settling might be okay. For big things like who to marry or which house to buy, settling is an obvious no-no. But there is a lot of grey area between those two extremes. One key area where I think too many people settle is when it comes to how they decorate and furnish their home.
In my first two homes, I settled a lot. In our last townhome we painted the walls in the main living areas tan. The color was actually called “broomstick”…seriously that should have warned us. We picked a color we thought was mainstream and neutral. We knew pretty quickly it wasn’t us, but visitors complimented on the color and we labored for days to paint all those walls. So we settled. We accepted a color we disliked. Finally, after a year on the market trying to sell the home, we worked up the courage to repaint every wall in a beautiful light grey. Immediately the space transformed, the color fits us, and we sold the home quickly after with multiple offers. As soon as we stopped settling and started repainting, we thought to ourselves…we should have done this sooner!
Define Your Style, Accept the Journey
Settling has nothing to do with sticking to a budget or a timeline. We all have to make choices that match our budget and time, but within those constraints, you don’t have to settle. Settling is accepting the norm, it’s doing what your neighbors do, it is buying what is on the shelf at your local big box store. Settling is the easy way out. It’s letting someone else define your style for you.
Your decorating style is individual and unique. There is no right or wrong, as long as you stay true to your unique style. My favorite colors to decorate with are teal, lime, turquoise, and yellow. My palette is unique (see my whole house color scheme and my accent color palette). Those colors are not readily available from mass retailers. I have to look a bit harder to find the right pieces, to get the right color. Sometimes I just have to make it myself. But I don’t ever settle. Furnishing and decorating a home doesn’t have to be a race. To truly embrace and develop your own style in your home will be a journey.
In our current home, we went without chairs in our family room for nearly two years. Having only a couch limited our seating when we had company over. We resorted on occasion to sitting on the floor or dragging the yellow chairs in from the office (as seen in some semi-before shots of the family room). We just recently found the right chairs, but they have the wrong fabric. See it is a journey. It took us nearly two years to find the chairs and they are not perfect yet. The journey continues. We could have settled a long time ago on another pair of chairs, but we would never have been satisfied with them. Making a home takes patience.
Don’t Do What Your Neighbors Do
No one else has a decorating style like you, so it follows that your home should be original too. Every house in our neighborhood is painted the same Cafe Latte color on the interior (seen in before shots of our dining room and kitchen). Okay, I have not seen inside every house, but while trick-or-treating I did notice that color in every house we went to! It is fine for the people that love that color, but my guess is it would not have been the first choice of everyone in the neighborhood. I am sure the builder got a bulk discount on paint in that color and used it in every house.
The first thing we did when we moved in was start painting. We learned our lesson on settling when it comes to color. Color is such a powerful force in our lives. It can truly affect your mood. We are still in the process of repainting every inch of this house, but when we have guests over we get so many compliments on the colors. I think the biggest reason is that they are unique. They make our house different and they represent us. If we had settled with Cafe Latte, we would have constantly been battling to get all of our other furnishings to fit in. The color would have thrown off our whole style.
Don’t Limit Your Style
Don’t settle for what’s on the shelf. I used to do this a lot. With no plan in mind, I would go to the store and confine myself to the options before me. For a long time what was available locally in mass retail stores defined my style. Just because the store only sells rugs in shades of beige, green, red, and brown, that does not mean you have to limit your color scheme. Look for another store that sells rugs and keep looking until you find one that you love. Don’t just settle for what is readily available, especially on the big-ticket items. Take the time to search. If the perfect piece is out of your price range, save up. Just don’t settle for what’s on the shelf, unless you love it.
How To Avoid Settling
Settling is giving up, not settling means:
- Look beyond the easy options that don’t meet your needs or wants. You may have to shop more stores, hold out for sales on pieces you truly love and be patient.
- Do a lot of window shopping or online browsing to find stores that fit your style. For the select stores you love, sign up for their email lists to stay current on new items and sales. Also, don’t forget Etsy, Craig’s List, and your local thrift and consignment shops.
- DIY! When I can’t buy the piece you want, it costs too much or comes in the wrong color, then I have to be willing to go the do-it-yourself route to get the look I am after.
- Take it slow on the big pieces. I would rather have a sparsely furnished house with great pieces, then a fully furnished house with a bunch of stuff I don’t like. When we were unable to sell our townhome, we looked at the silver lining…the smaller house payment allowed us to stock up on great furniture, even when it didn’t really fit in the townhome. We made the investment in pieces we knew we’d love for years to come, which made furnishing our current home easier.
- Stock up. This may seem to contradict the previous bullet, but I am always ready to stock up when I find things I love. The colors I gravitate towards tend to get popular in stores in the springtime. If I see pieces I love in my style and my favorite colors, I get them even if I don’t know where I will use them. Then I have a bit of a stash when I am working on a project. This tip is especially applicable to small decor items, party supplies, and fabric.
- Change it, don’t work around it. You can work around a space being small or lacking light, but don’t work around things you hate that you have the ability to change. Changing color and decor can make a big impact with little money and time.
- Grow with your decorating style. Your style will evolve…you and your home should evolve with it. Would you believe me if I told you my bachelorette style was still modern, but more modern country? It evolved when my husband and I started finding our combined style.
Hold Out, Don’t Settle
Right now I am holding out for the right fabric for the new living room chairs, the right light fixture for the master bedroom, and the right outdoor rug for the deck. These are the things I would rather live without for now, then settle. What are you holding out for in your home?