Furnishing your home is a story of many battles. It shouldn’t be; the mild world of home decor – how can this cause so much stress? But it does.
First, you have to decide for yourself what you want. That’s no easy task. Unless you have very clearly defined tastes (which no one does), then you’re going to have at least a few periods where you find yourself paralysed with indecision. When you give yourself over to the decor bug, you can find yourself with a list of “Things I Must Have” that you’d need several houses to fill. So how do you pick for just one?
Secondly, you have to convince your other half of your decision. Many a woman knows what it’s like to have their partner stare at a plethora of cushions and ask aloud what their point is. It depends on the guy how difficult this argument is going to be. Is it an offhand observance before he continues ignoring the decor side of things? Or does he too have strong stylistic values – and you don’t necessarily see things eye-to-eye?
The third battle is the one we all hate but that life itself forces us to do. It is the battle of practicality. Let’s say you find a set of stools that you just have to use at your breakfast kitchen bar. You go along to a store to try them out before you buy, and you notice:
- a) They’re incredibly uncomfortable. This would bother you more admittedly if you didn’t…
- b) You fall off them. Your partner falls off them.
They are clearly impractical; their sole function would be their aesthetic quality. They might even make life more difficult; you may find yourself not even able to sit at the kitchen counter without risking muscle cramp. But they’re so pretty and finish the look off just fine – so what do you do?
Make the practical, adult decision and pick something that works better?
Or go for the stools, regret it every time you sit on them but still admire them as a work of art?
The above are the classic battles, but beneath them lie a thousand and one others. These are the ones that ultimately dictate how our home looks in the finer detail; the pieces we choose; the little touches that we create.
The problem is, for as well known as they are, they don’t get any easier. In fact, for every room that you decorate in your home, you may find yourself running up against the same quandary time and time again.
Battle One: Colour vs.. No Colour
If you were to type the words “neutral home colour scheme” into a search engine, the sheer number of results that would flood back would be overwhelming.
It’s the standard; the thing everyone does; the thing everyone recommends. Neutral. Everything should be neutral. If it’s not going to be some variation of white, cream, taupe or – very occasionally – light greens, then frankly, why do you even have a house? Do you even go here?
If a preference is repeated often enough by a high a number of people, then it can become a fact. It becomes the accepted norm, the standard to which we all must conform. Neutral colour schemes have become just that. They’re the way we’re meant to want things to be. We’re meant to crave a world that is a slightly less harsh monochrome, alternating an entire home through a few limited shades. Colours – even within this limited palette – should be on the “gentle” end of the spectrum rather than bold.
At least, that’s how it should be.
In the midst of all the results mentioned above, you would also find that most insidious of home decor terms: a pop of colour.
Let’s be realistic: the only reason we need a pop of colour is because we have washed as much of it out of our style anyway. The obsession with neutral palettes has lead us to needing to scream about an injection of colour because there’s no other place it’s going to come naturally, at least not in the sepia-toned worlds we’ve created for ourselves.
Would it not be easier just to go with colour, to begin with? Bold colours, primary colours that negate the need for a “pop” of anything. They pop just fine on their own.
Or should you be “adult” and accept that neutral schemes are used because they work?
Walking the fine line in this battle is one of the toughest in home decor. Which will you choose?
Battle Two: Unique or Mass Produced?
The above applies primarily to furniture.
Admittedly, this is not always being influenced by the look and feel of a room alone. There is a financial aspect, too. The less mass-produced and high street that your furniture is, the higher the price tag. Depending on your budget, that can mean that the choice between these two sides is made for you – even if you prefer the other side’s arguments!
If you have a little more to spend or are willing to save money to ensure you can make the right decision, then you face a quandary.
Mass produced furniture – the kind that adorns the high street and homes across the land – is popular. It might be popular because it’s cheaper, but also because it tends to take its lead from high designer pieces. There’s many a newspaper article printed about how you can “get the look for less“.
The one downside in the battle plan for mass produced however is the quality. Even if you are a flat-pack whiz (https://www.davesdiytips.com/assembling-flat-pack-furniture/) who can assemble a piece in 20 minutes and have it stay up until the end of time, there is still something flimsy about these pieces. The lower build quality is part of the reason they feature lower on the price spectrum. Woods will generally be thinner – that’s if they are wood at all, with veneer still a popular alternative. Glass and mirrors will be more fragile, handles will not be quite as snug a fit – all things that ask for easier breakages.
For more individual pieces that have a focus on quality, the likes of www.PlumGoose.com/noir-furniture/ may seem the perfect solution. There are plenty of manufacturers alike who concentrate on ensuring that quality is high, emphasising an individual design approach and high build standards. If you can afford to choose from this side, then it’s usually the one we prefer.
Even if you know the above, however, there is still a war to be fought. Do you just pick one piece to splash out on and make do with the rest? Or should everything have a kind of middling quality, neither high-end nor high street? It can become a furious spin of thoughts to which there is no natural conclusion – there’s no obvious winner in this one, yet!
Battle Three: Clutter vs.. Modern
Clutter is meant to be the bane of our lives. It’s destroying our feng shui; it’s preventing our homes from looking the way we want them to. Clutter should be banished! Trampled at the bottom of the battlefield!
Except… some of that clutter is kind of useful, isn’t it? It’s not like anyone is keeping manuals for appliances around for their design features. We’re doing it for a reason; because it’s useful, because we might someday need it. A manual is fairly easy to tuck out of sight, but many things that cause clutter aren’t.
That’s only the non-intentional clutter – what about ornaments? Photo frames, decorative touches? At some point they become clutter as well, getting in the way of those smooth modern lines we’re all meant to love and covet so much.
So which is it going to be – a room full of character-driven clutter, or the clutter free life?
The vast majority of who wins this battle is going to depend on the person you are. Can you realistically expect yourself to keep a minimal home that way?
The situation is complicated even further if you have kids. You might be able to operate on the understanding that everything has its place and should remain there, but young children are less able to understand. So does that mean the only alternative is to hand over your home to chaos, with stuff piling upon stuff to the point you forget what your furniture is meant to look like without it?
If you think you can maintain a minimal, modern look and you like the aesthetic, then great! You may be wrong, but clever storage can always help you disguise the things you don’t want to see. Or, you can give over to the inevitable and acknowledge you’re not likely in the .5% of people that can really live like that – and embrace the chaos from day one.
There might never be a way to resolve these battles, but you can put your head down, battle through and make the right decision for the moment. It might change further down the line, but this is a war – and the only option is to keep fighting!