I have been craving ways to simplify my life, including my home, to feel less busy. I believe if I can eliminate the physical clutter, it will help eliminate the mental clutter too. Plus, less stuff means less to clean, right? How I can feel more control and happier with the things that I have collected over the years and make better choices about what I bring into my home in the future? A diet is simply controlling what you eat, so couldn’t I apply this idea to my home?
There are times when we have the money to do large renovations or buy all new furniture for our home. There are times too, when we need to budget, use what we have, do the work ourselves or hold off on spending money on wants rather than needs. It was in one of the latter seasons, that I tease my husband that he put me on a ‘décor diet.’ I did not make any large purchases for our home and really limited what I bought during that time period. I built some small furniture and décor from reclaimed wood, got creative with what I already owned to style areas in my home and shopped second hand for vintage and antique pieces. My husband and I even redid the flooring and painted some of the rooms in our home together. By doing the work ourselves, we learned to appreciate everything that we have including one another.
During this time of my ‘décor diet,’ I made conscious choices about my purchases which taught me to curate a personal style. I am sharing everything that I have learned over the past few years of décor dieting, and sharing these tips with you.
1. Get to know your style. Identify and develop your own style. Don’t worry about fitting into one category, as most styles are combinations of many like French country farmhouse or modern coastal. If you are looking on Pinterest, Instagram or home décor and design magazines, be inspired rather than influenced. It may take years to develop your own signature look, in which you add, omit or change different things in your home during this time, so I am only suggesting that you identify the direction that you want to go at this point. You are transforming your house into a home and the more that it reflects your personality and family, the more authentic your style will be. I do suggest that you stick with one similar look throughout your home, which also works in conjunction with the style or architecture of your home. Avoid themed rooms or dramatic differences of paint colors, so that your style is consistent throughout your home. It helps create a more polished look.
2. Avoid big purchases. Do not make any large purchases or decisions during the time that you are identifying your style and feeling out the spaces in your home. When I first moved into our current house, I reupholstered several chairs in a dark fabric that matched the original wood paneling and green carpet. I even bought an expensive rustic style reclaimed wood cabinet, which I still love but it didn’t work with my other furniture. We later removed the carpet and painted the walls bright white, and my style changed completely within a few months. I had to reupholster or get rid of several of the chairs and the cabinet. It was one of many mistakes that I made. Sometimes the best way to avoid overbuying is to cut off your love affair with HomeGoods and avoid shopping a few weeks or months. It isn’t about depriving yourself, but feeling empowered in your choices, so that you live a more fulfilled.
3. Live in your home. Similar to avoiding big purchases, don’t rush into big decisions or remodeling choices until you live in your home a while. My best advice is to get a rough draft of the entire house together before doing any major remodeling. You want the spaces to feel connected, even though they do not have to be the exact same. When you don’t have a plan, you may make purchases that you like, but that do not work cohesively in your home. When we moved in, we turned our built-in tv cabinet into a bar, but never used the bar so we are currently closing it in to use as a butler’s pantry. Since it was one of our first projects that we did, we used an off white tumbled tile which currently isn’t anywhere else in the house. It looks odd. I wish I would have used a red Chicago brick that I used in the mudroom or the grey subway tile used in the kitchen. I think it would make our home have a more cohesive style.
4. Purge what you don’t love. You have to let go of some things that you don’t love so you can make room for what you do. It is like a detox for your home when you eliminate junk in the house. If it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. It is hard to get rid of stuff that we have a sentimental connection too, or spent a lot of money on. The truth is that we probably made a mistake in buying it and feel guilty for getting rid of it – don’t make a second mistake in keeping it around. Maybe it has served its purpose, maybe not, but if you haven’t used it in months or years, you don’t need it. Find someone that could use it or sell it online. If it stresses you to think about hosting a garage sale like me, just donate it. Keep a box by the back door for quick drops off to the donation center. Physical clutter overloads our senses and causes us stress, which takes away the ‘sweet’ in home sweet home and turns it into chaos. My husband recently purged the kitchen, before I woke up one Sunday. Part of me wanted to sift through the garbage and make sure that he didn’t toss anything useful, but I walked away and have been so happy with the clean, organized kitchen.
5. Avoid junk! Just like limiting junk food that you put into your body; don’t bring that junk into the house. I don’t mean the good junk, either, that you find at the antique store. I mean the excess… buying stuff because it is on sale and not necessarily because you love it. Things like the Target hundred Dollar Spot may seem like good buys, but are usually just a quick fix and not necessarily a long-term solution to your décor style. Little by little becomes a lot… a lot of things that you don’t love. Don’t fall for something cute that you have craved for an hour when you are working on creating the home of your dreams. Avoid easy, cheap or fake furniture. You will spend more money replacing it several times over the years, than if you save up and get good quality material. This is why I love antiques. You can not beat the quality of real wood furniture. It just takes time to find great pieces.
6. Use what you have. A curated style takes time and creativity. You don’t need a lot of money to create a beautiful home. Good design elements, DIYs, repurposing and conscious choices about your purchases are more important than having a lot of money. I have many pieces of furniture in my home that were passed down from family. If I love the piece, I keep it and display it in my home. Use paint to transform any piece that needs updating or a new look to fit into your style. I have also used reclaimed wood to build frames, wall hooks, crates, and even a potter’s bench.
After you have figured out your style, developed an overall plan for your house, and have overcame the withdrawals from not shopping for months, you can decorate or remodel your home with confidence. Stepping back really encouraged me to develop my own personal style, only purchase pieces that I really love, and repurpose things that I had into something beautiful. First, focus on what you need like furniture pieces that anchor the room. Use neutrals, because you can always add color, texture, and patterns with pillows and rugs. Second, add what you love to complete the space and make it feel pretty and personal. Stick with the classics and avoid following too many trends.
A decor diet may last a few weeks or a few months; it is up to you. My hope is that it gives you more control, so that you feel more confident to decorate your home! Good luck!