Recently, I bought stools for our kitchen island. I started with two but quickly added another, since one kid always felt left out. (You’d think I’d have learned by now.) During our Month of Two Stools there were too many fights to count and I cursed even buying them in the first place. (Sometimes I still regret buying stools because my two-year old thinks he has full access to everything on the island at any given time, but that’s another story.)
We’ve lived in our house for almost three years. I didn’t care much about stools at first during the chaos of moving and adding another baby and having twin two-year old climbers who didn’t need any more temptations. But after awhile the island looked kind of lonely and empty to me. It was time. I searched and I researched and compared prices. I found some. Now I love having our simple kitchen stools. The kids have easy access to help me bake, I often sit there for breakfast or to work on a project, cold brew or craft brew by my side. The three little Williamses often sit three across for breakfast or lunch or an afternoon snack.
But I had to find the right stools first.
It was the same in our bedroom. All this open space, what to do with it? A (very first world) problem I had never had before. Our previous apartment barely had room for a bed, two nightstands, a dresser, and space to walk around them all without bumping into something.
I thought I hated the tan walls (It's grey that's in, not tan!) but despised all that painting would entail. Then I saw an image, burned into my brain now, of a bedroom full of tans and whites and creams and walnut and it looked so beautiful, so serene. That picture became my inspiration. A cream-textured bed with nailheads, white and walnut dresser, cozy chair in the corner. I’m not done yet. But it took me at least a year of living there to realize I even liked the space I had to work with. To realize I could mold and transform and even love it.
I’m wary of buying any pieces I don’t love. Afraid that if I just buy something to fill the space, it will become normal, I’ll get used to it, I’ll never update. Until recently, our ottoman was a $79.99 faux leather (Does "vegan leather" sound fancier? Let's go with that.) dark brown piece with storage from Target that desperately needed replacing. The hinges didn’t quite work after four years of kids using it for everything from a boat to a hiding spot. There were a couple of rips in the “vegan leather” on the corner. But it worked. It held my feet up. It was easy to set it and forget it and not worry about upgrading.
I’m a big fan of slow decorating. I think you have to live in a space before you know how you want it to feel, how you want it to look, how it will function best for you and your family. I know many people buy houses and immediately go about their renovations and binge on furniture purchases. I’m a bit more tortoise-like, quieter. I often don’t have an idea about a space until — suddenly — I do. It often comes to me, in a flash, and then I can’t tackle a project fast enough.
I guess we’ve never really had the budget for major renovations or a plethora of furniture purchases to begin with. The lean days of our early married years made even a $79.99 ottoman purchase an investment for us. It amazed me that after putting a down payment on a house anyone had any money left to buy furniture to fill it with. In a way, we’ve been forced into slow.
But I do love the slow accumulation, over time, of pieces that speak to me, of pieces that are just right, of a corner I had no idea how to use until suddenly the exact right, perfect idea pops into my head - ah ha! So that’s what to do with you.
That ottoman has been replaced now. A bigger piece, one more suited to the size of our space. Without hinges because now I know those will just get broken again. With a cream fabric that will probably get stained but since it was a steal at $169.99 it’s a risk I can take for something that’s more my style, something I like, something that feels like me. (It's still from Target, though. Some things never change.)
I’ve been eyeing some nightstands for our bedroom, a couple of chairs for our living room, still have no idea what to do with the long wall in our entryway. Maybe I won't for another three years, five years, eight. This house will probably never be "done", not finished in the way I see on Pinterest or in the pages of Dwell. And that's alright.
I'm okay with taking it slow.