Double Parlor Library The Victorian House

Decorating and Perfectionism

I can already hear the snickering at that title (ha, she thinks what she has done is perfect!?), but stick with me.

I’m slowly working toward my overall vision for the house. Certain things (like wallpaper) are on hold until the rewiring of the house has been finished, and the rewiring is on hold until at least after we host a bridal shower here next month. Holes in the walls and ceiling are so distracting at parties, you know?

Because our plan is to be here for a long time, I find myself obsessively fixating on getting things just right. I finally ordered the Dawson pedestal table that I’d had my eye on for over a year. The upside to fixating on certain pieces and keeping track of them is that you’re aware of when they go on sale, so I was able to grab the table at 30% off. I’m kind of kicking myself though for not having bought a pair of Deeda chairs when the pink ones went on clearance a while back. They can still be ordered in that fabric (farrow-strawberry linen), but I didn’t buy them when they were $500 instead of $1500 because I didn’t have the cash on hand at the time, and I’m not going into debt over a couple of chairs.

I borrowed one in the stock fabric so that I could check the scale and photograph it (because hi, I’m a blogger and my job is weird). Through the magic of Photoshop, I turned it into a pair.

Pair of Deeda Chairs in Making it Lovely's Home Library

Is it really everything I’ve imagined for the past year? Yes and no.

I love the table. I love the chairs with the table, and that farrow-strawberry fabric would be the most beautiful shade of pink for our library. But the chairs are tall, and the pair of Lincoln armchairs in the adjacent room look bitty when viewed together. So, go for the chairs I’d wanted all along, and sell and replace the floor model chairs in the living room? The house has already been photographed for publication — why not switch things up? Or stick with the ones I got, find something else to work with the table in the library, and stop spending so much damn money in pursuit of some silly inflexible vision? The room would still look good. It would still work. It just wouldn’t match what has been in my head.

Living Room, Looking into Home Library | Making it Lovely

I’ve been working toward this arbitrary idea of what our home should look like, without taking time to stop and reassess. What has changed? What can I move forward with, and what can I let go?

I’ve been here before. I included these phrases in a post from seven years ago, and they still apply now.

A good idea today is better than a perfect idea tomorrow.

Don’t let best get in the way of better.

Done is better than perfect.

I think that with the first house, there was less pressure. I always knew in the back of my mind that we would move on some day. Instead of ‘perfect’ I would go for the ‘good’ and the ‘done’ with the idea that it might be replaced eventually. It came together over time, and I loved it every step along the way.

Changing Living Room, Making it Lovely

And if we were still in that house, no doubt it would already look different.

I’m always aware of what is available and what’s coming on the market, so I’m constantly finding myself drawn to new! next! now! I could create an entire room design around the latest whatever because it’s far easier to pull a room together all at once, but how many of us can realistically do so? Most of us, myself included, are decorating over time, which means that your vision has time to grow and change. We create cohesion and a home that reflects our style while leaving room for things that may not even exist yet. In theory, each new piece for your home should bring you closer to the finish line, but in practice, that line is always moving.

We’ve lived here for almost two years. That’s crazy to me! The time has gone by so quickly. I’m coming out of the fog of caring for an infant as the baby gets a little older (and a little easier), and I’m excited that I’ve got this big old lovely house here just waiting for me to go nuts with it. Time to revisit my initial vision for the home, reassess, and move forward. Even if it isn’t perfect, it can still be pretty damn good.

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33 Comments

  • Reply
    Megan C.
    June 25, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Here’s what I would do, take it with a grain of salt: You’re right, the chairs are too big in scale for that table. I would get smaller chairs to flank each side (perhaps not upholstered?). I would also sell the chairs in the living room and replace them with something a little more dynamic like C&B’s Tess chair in a fun color like Raspberry: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/tess-chair/s272608

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      June 26, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      Those are fun! I have so much going on with the rest of the upholstery though — the teal sofa, a floral chair, and a black and white striped sofa — that there needs to be a place where the eye can rest, hence the living room chairs.

  • Reply
    Laura @ RatherSquare.com
    June 25, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Interesting post, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think “perfectionism” in design is kind of an impossible goal, since it encompasses subjective and fluid things like personal taste, style, trends, and most of all: function. In our home, I try to make things beautiful (by my standards), but not at the expense of their functionality. If a chair is really cool to look at but really uncomfortable to sit in, then it’s just taking up space and not serving a purpose. I think you’re right to take the long view and see your home as a slow evolution. And I like the concept of leaving room for things that don’t exist yet – or ideas that don’t exist in your brain yet!

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      June 26, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      Exactly! Sometimes it’s the ideas that need to form before we can do something great. (And I’m with you on the function aspect too.)

  • Reply
    JessiBee
    June 25, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Uh, two years? That can’t be right? Man, I have no concept of time at all.
    Also, yes! To everything. Decorating never ends…sometimes I wish it did but the stuff that doesn’t exist yet and the ideas we haven’t had are so exciting! I love what you are doing with your house BTW. I’m enjoying seeing the evolution of your style and I think the Victorian was a great move for you.

  • Reply
    Tina Slocum
    June 25, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    I love your taste and choices so much, but I have to admit, the grey Lincoln chairs look like hotel furniture. The color is very drab also. In the pink, maybe they would be better. They just look like they don’t rest within the room. I’m sure they look better in person.

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      June 26, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      They look fine in person. Not amazing, not OMG I LOVE THEM, but they’re nice chairs. :)

      • Reply
        Marcee ... ILLINOIS
        June 28, 2015 at 3:24 pm

        Yes, nice chairs Nicole. Comfy. I saw them face to face! Pinkish-strawberry linen fabric has a lot of orange. Not sure if I’d change. Well, it will definitely create color pop. Would love to see if you decide to change up fabric. Everything looks nice to me. Keeps getting better and better ….. relax Nicole! Ha!!

  • Reply
    Patty Dieterle
    June 25, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I have found over the years that in a few years you will find that you want to change things out.

    • Reply
      Marcee ... ILLINOIS
      June 28, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Usually, when pieces are classics, you keep them forever. Hand them down to the children if still in good shape. I have my grandmother’s Chippendale dinette set. A smaller version of a dining room table and chairs. Obviously, it’s very old, in so-so shape. Chairs are worn. Table is still sturdy and reliable though. Can’t believe how shiny the (real) wood is. Amazing.

  • Reply
    juy
    June 25, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    One of the things that I admire about you is your ability to purchase things that are so good you are able to sell them and move on. We were always stuck with the uglys or less than attractive because we went to the better stores and then to the sub sub basement 0f rejects and repeated discounts until they had descended into the basement of final oblivion. They were always structurally great(quality of the store) but shape and fabric pretty awful. With three little rambunctious boys sturdy structure was paramount. They could break,spill,rip and knock over till they seemed more like a demolition derby than Children. Thankfully they grew up to be very nice guys so there is always Hope.

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      June 26, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      That’s true, I am often able to sell things at a decent price to recoup expenses, as they were nice enough to begin with. Not always, of course! And luckily, our kids have been relatively easy on the furniture so far, but who knows how it will change as they all get a little older.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    June 25, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I would totally get the ones you were looking at and keep the old ones around for a while. I actually love the ones that you have, so maybe you just need to live in it for a while!

    Good luck!

  • Reply
    Margie
    June 25, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I can’t help but wonder if you are spending so much time and effort fixing the structure of the house, that you don’t feel like you can spend any “real” money on the decorating? Like you can’t start frosting until you fix the cake?

    I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on it, as we just moved and it’s hard for me to buy rugs when we need to be fixing dry rot and the AC.

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      June 25, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      That’s part of it, yes. We changed the second floor layout around and are 80% done (according to the electricians) with rewiring the house, and stuff like that takes priority. There’s also a running list of ‘would be nice’ projects that aren’t feasible yet that would need a lot of saving up to do. I’ve picked up new things for the house along the way too though, so I’m kind of jumping all over the place with big stuff and smaller decorating projects.

      • Reply
        Hally
        June 26, 2015 at 3:54 pm

        This is what I was wondering myself. We’re about to close on a gorgeous old white brick ranch, but the layout needs a bit of help and we’d like to vault the ceiling while knocking out a wall, but I also want to update the shutters, extend the roofline for a larger porch and decorate in a more mature style since I’m not 22 anymore. All of that to say, these posts you have about the background of things are always my favorite. I love to see when you buy a new pair of chairs or switch out a rug, but the thought process is fascinating for me!

  • Reply
    Nitya
    June 25, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Nicole,
    I know exactly how you feel :). I have felt like that often.
    I loved the table choice. The chairs Im not sure. I really like the way your home is coming together. After living 5 years in our home, I have recently come to accept that I will never be done decorating and that is fine. I really enjoy the process and how my taste is evolving over time. To me, your spaces always look good even though it may be incomplete in your eyes because they really speak to you and your family who reside in it. I think that in the best part :). Enjoy this journey!

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    June 25, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    You know how I feel about this :) I think it’s impossible to be done, no matter what type of house, when you are attuned to how the house needs to flow and function. Your children are small now, in a few years no matter what you decide, it will need to flex again to accommodate the presence of 5 taller people (and a 7 & 10 year old pair of wrestling boys takes up a lot of space) which will again change the flow. Things move. Tastes change. Buying and selling sometimes, sometimes just moving everything around. There is no done if the home is truly going to fit the family inside.

  • Reply
    Nicole
    June 25, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Love this post! I’m not a blogger, or anyone who’d ever have their home in a magazine, but I still feel pressure to get to what I consider perfect. Because once we buy a couch, a chair, a what-ever we’re pretty much sticking with it until it breaks (or I throw it out, darn you Poang!).

    Also in Canada we have so much less choice, or spend too much if we import. It’s ridiculous how long it took me to find a good gold curtain rod, let alone the perfect one! (It wasn’t the best, but it’s totally turned into better!)

  • Reply
    Ericae
    June 26, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I moved into our forever house and have the opposite feeling. I’ve been dreaming about it so long and now I can’t wait to get it all out of my head and into real life.

    I love those pink stools. Where did you get them?

    • Reply
      Constance
      June 29, 2015 at 9:44 am

      We have the same stools — they are from Target! I’m actually unsure if they make them anymore b/c I can’t find them on the website (I may have missed them).

      • Reply
        Kathleen
        July 2, 2015 at 8:16 am

        Yeah, that was the Threshold Tufted Ottoman from Target. I know because I was desperate to get these, only to find they weren’t made anymore.

  • Reply
    Lexi
    June 27, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I don’t know that anyone else will think the living room chairs look too small in comparison. They are wider than the pink ones will be and it’s okay that they are different proportions.
    You could buy the pink chairs with the eventual plan of replacing the other chairs, since it sounds like you don’t 100% love the lincoln chairs. You have to decide how much the difference in size actually matters to you, will it bug you every time you see them or is it just going to go on your “one day I’ll change that” list.
    Basically, don’t let two chairs you aren’t sure you will keep forever get in the way of chairs you really seem to love.
    Sometimes when I get stuck on a decision I find it helpful to remind myself of what I want my home to feel like. For me: joyful, lived in, welcoming and peaceful. It really helps when I am trying to decide if a piece needs to be purchase right now or if it can wait.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    erin @ the honey home
    June 29, 2015 at 6:59 am

    We’ve spent the past 7-8 years in a foreclosure that was essentially a blank slate for whatever we felt like doing (and re-doing, and re-doing, and re-doing). We’re hoping to move to our “forever home” in the next year (my childhood home) and already I am feeling the pressure of making decisions for…longevity, I guess. I learned a lot about myself and my style in the process of our fixer-upper, and I’m hoping to not repeat so many of the mistakes I made the first-go-round; I hope that doesn’t discourage me from acting on something in favor of the end vision…something to think about. Thanks for the food for thought. :)

  • Reply
    katja
    June 29, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Looking at the photos of your old house reminds me how much I prefer your “old” style. More fun, casual and all over happier looking. But that’s just me and what I like, you are certainly talented and you’ve evolved into a more sophisticated look over the years.

  • Reply
    nancy50
    June 30, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I’ll start by saying I love that striped sofa…but I think it is the reason why you’re having problems decorating the front room. It’s too big. If only it cound be cut down to love seat size – to be a true settee or left in it’s original size and moved to another room – in the front room it looks like the sofa is screaming “look how cool I am, if only I could fit”. As for chairs, I would like to see the Nina chair in fuschia from the World Market. It’s hard to tell on the internet about the scale and how it would work with the table, but the price is right, it looks comfortable and the color is awesome.

    Second thought about the sofa- replace it with a chaise upholstered in the same fabric.

  • Reply
    Kate
    July 8, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks for this post, Nicole, and for those three wise phases about “a good idea today… ” This post really resonated with me and my current home in progress (but, really, aren’t all homes in progress?) and made me give myself a little push to quit hemming and hawing over things. Consequently I now have curtains hung up in the living room and throw pillows on the sofa in the den and while they aren’t perfection, it turns out that I’m the only one who knows it! Waiting for that perfect something or belaboring the ideal item can sometimes overwhelm even the best of us, I think. Live in the home, create a life you love within its walls and enjoy the decorating ride. : )
    Love your blog and your style.

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