My Life The Victorian House

Making it Home

Let’s get rambly. Last weekend, I almost bought a couple of chairs for the back parlor, and then I decided against it. I’ve done this a bunch of times. I know — excitement and thrills! Hold on to your seats!

I’ve mentioned before that Brandon and I had set aside a budget for furniture when we bought this house, and I think we used it well. We bought a washer and dryer, a black and white striped sofa for the front parlor and a teal blue sofa for the back, a rug, and a media console. We’ve been working with what we already had from the last house too, of course, but this house is bigger and much different in style, and so there are some missing pieces. And those missing pieces are harder to justify spending a lot on, since we’ve already bought the main things and have gone through that initial furniture budget. Anything coming in now will be brought in a little at a time, and saved up for as we go.

This is exactly how we did things with the first house too, way back in 2007 at the beginning of this blog. The difference now though, is that I feel more pressure to do it all. Do it right! Do it big! Jules and I were emailing back and forth (chatting about something else), but she sent this gif in reply and it made me burst out laughing. It’s kind of appropriate here, so you get to enjoy it now too.

Go Big or Go Home!

Aren’t you glad? (Ack, it’s going to take a few posts before that gets pushed off the home page…)

But back to those chairs I almost bought. I love the idea of a matching pair of armchairs facing the blue sofa, which is what I was going for when I picked up the olive green scroll-arm chairs last winter. Then I got them home. They were a good deal, the scale was right, and the shape was interesting, but the color was off. Thankfully I didn’t lose any money on them (phew), and the mistake reinforced what I already knew, which was that I don’t like to make big impulse purchases. I like to fall in love with an item, then ponder it for a while. Sometimes I still love it, and it’s a go (like my blue sofa, which I thought and thought about for months before finally buying it on sale). Sometimes, I’m over it a couple of days later.

I often see chairs on Craigslist, in a thrift/resale/antique store, or on a flash-shopping site, and think I can make them work. I’m sure I could, and their easy to justify purchasing. The price is good! The deal won’t last! But then the more I think about it, I realize I’d be repeating the same mistake as with the green chairs. Something may be a great deal, but if the scale, shape, or color is off, I’m not going to be happy with the purchase long-term. And I’m not interested in rushing out to get a bunch of things for the sake of having a ‘finished’ room (self-induced pressure to do so or otherwise be damned). I’d rather wait and get it right. Maybe the right find will come along. Maybe it will mean saving up longer to buy the best quality I can. Either way, it’s going to take time. And I’m okay with that.

Actually, I’m more than okay with it. I’m enjoying the process! I love living here and experiencing the changing seasons in our house. I like being able to really think about how we can make it work best for our family. I may wish we had just the right chairs opposite a sofa, but if we need more seating there are others we can use in a pinch. Decorating shows and seeing client work from designers condition us to think that a rooms and houses can and should come together on a deadline, but that’s now how real life works for the people I know and it’s not how it works for us either.

I may not always succeed, but I’m doing my best to do things right the first time, and to value quality over quantity. What interests me most is working with what we have, adding good pieces over time, and adding pieces with an overall plan in mind (but being flexible enough to let that plan shift and change). I’m aware that I could be creating blog content by bringing in new pieces and working on rooms as quickly, but it’s more important to me that I’m creating a home. I’m trying to think of a cliché to mirror Go Big or Go Home here. Maybe Slow and Steady Wins the Race? Ah, wait, I have a Pinterest board full of platitudes and quotes to choose from!

This will do nicely.

When you do things from your soul, other people really dig that shit.

Also, this.

Remember why you started.

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  • Mallory
    May 29, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Huzzah! We’re almost one month into our new (and first!) house, and this was the perfect read at the perfect time. It’s a constant battle over wanting to feel completely moved into a magazine-ready home and knowing that these things take time and happen organically. Love seeing and reading about your process.

  • Laurie
    May 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Yes, this. I get this. I enjoy the process of creating my space so stretching it out to find just the right color/piece/solution doesn’t bother me. I end up loving the space more when I take my time.

    But it does make for slightly boring blogging, doesn’t it? Plus, I have family members, *cough*Mom*cough*, who can’t stand it when things are DONE right away so she pushes and interferes and I find I have to dodge these attempts and comments like an all-star football player.

  • Kim
    May 29, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I actually envy your take on this! I am so Type A, I HATE having stuff lie around unfinished. Every time I’ve moved, I’ve had art on the walls in less than a week.

    We just bought a house in January and it is a constant struggle not just to fill my house with stuff to mark it complete. There are still boxes. There is no art on the walls. Our walls are still painted the ugly colors they were when we moved in. And the furniture? Yeah. I’ve already made one mistake on a big reading chair. As soon as we set it up, I was regretting it. Ugh!

    I need to become more methodical and patient but it is very hard. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • judy
    May 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    not to be morbid but it’s not the destination it’s the journey and the last stop of Life is -you know-so as a fan of said re: VEBS Manifesto against uber expensive white kitchens -that it was like people trying to get white white teeth “calm down people”. Married for over half a century, we have lived in 9 houses, inherited some furniture,had some reupholstered antiques that turned out pretty nice. And now the last house, comfy, cozy, cluttered,but we’re happy, the husband, the 98 lb. dog, The 135 lb. dog and me. Hope you all are too for all your life. The less stuff the more time for people. Oh- and teach your kids-even the little ones-to run. They will be happier, healthier and filled with endorphins. Try to do that before they discover TV and video games.

    • judy
      May 29, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      sorry that would be very funny blog

  • Dajana
    May 29, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    This post is exactly the reason why I love your blog and admire you, Nicole.

    You’re real. The fact you want to take your time in making your house a home makes me want to high five you.

    Looking forward to seeing the as-it-comes-naturally progress.

  • Tara
    May 29, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I forget…if only the color of the olive green chairs was off, why didn’t you get them reupholstered in the correct color? Or was it prohibitively expensive? I buy a lot of Craigslist, so I feel ya. It’s hard to find the “perfect” items sometimes and there is so much pressure to do so.

  • Geneviève
    May 29, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    What a great post :) I know that some readers are looking mainly for style/decoration posts on your blog, but I really love reading about your thoughts. To me, reading about the process (like in this post) can be as inspiring as the presentation of a new completed room.

    I’m moving in a new home in two weeks and I hope to be able to just take the time to live in my house before making any decision about the furniture or the painting. It will certainly be frustrating, but I guess you have to live in your house a little to find what will really work best for you to make it your home.

    Thank you for helping me to keep that in mind!

  • Lesley
    May 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I was always told that you need to “live” in a place for at least a year before you start making major changes or major purchases because the house needs to be able to have time to ‘speak” to you about how things should be done/changed etc.
    I don’t know if it’s completely true or not, but I do know whenever I’ve felt the need to get things finished quickly I’ve always ended up with something that’s less than what it could’ve been.

    Ignoring the feeling of wanting everything done NOW is difficult at times…but oh so worth it in the long run

  • Nicola Shuttleworth
    May 29, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    This is beautifully written and made such a personal connection. I also recently moved (1 year ago) into a Chicago town home and it was a big change. Some of my early purchases I regret but the slower more thoughtful ones I love. Now I just have to decide on that dining room table…..

  • Lisa
    May 29, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Ha, Go Big or Go Home, that was my friends’ and my motto in the late 90s when it came to partying. Oh how life has changed, but it’s kind of fun to hear that saying in regards to an actual home. If you love it, live with it. If you don’t love it, leave it. Hold out for what you love, in other words. Your blog will be just fine until you find what you love. Great post!

  • Extragrunty
    May 30, 2014 at 12:39 am

    “When you do things from your soul, other people really dig that shit” – That make me laugh. I think it needs to be on a poster on my walls.

  • katie
    May 30, 2014 at 8:18 am

    lovely rambly post – well timed for me as well since i am also in the process of moving.

    i’ve enjoyed seeing your process of adjusting and re-decorating this home with belongings and furniture from your previous home. even though the style and the architecture of the two homes is so very different, it’s been great to see how you make each piece work with this new house, and to see your process of acquiring new things.

    our first house had tall ceilings, beautiful woodwork, and square rooms. we renovated the entire thing, and slowly filled the house with furniture and decor. our new house will be a 1940s cape cod, with lower ceiling heights, minimal “character”, and oddly shaped rooms. we are currently living in temporary housing while waiting to move in to our new house – and the waiting is giving me too much time to think! i keep stressing about how this or that will fit, or what paint color we should us… you are right – it was 6 years before i could say that the last house was “finished”, so there’s no need to rush this next one. thanks for the reminder. :)

  • Jenna
    May 30, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Thank you, Nicole. Thank you for taking time to enjoy your home and add to it slowly. And thanks for sharing those feelings with us. It’s encouraging to be reminded that it’s okay to go slow. I want to be able to enjoy the journey… I needed this today. :)

  • Laura
    May 30, 2014 at 10:54 am

    You are a pregnant lady with two small kids! What you’ve accomplished in a very short time with your lovely home is AMAZING! Do bloggers get sent secret emails pressuring them to be more awesome or something? Definitely cut yourself some slack. You could just post a picture of that blue sofa once a week and I’d still keep coming back.

  • Lesley | Artsy Forager
    May 30, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    This is why I love your blog so much– the fact that you aren’t running out to purchase everything for the house immediately and are giving such a great example of budgeting and saving for big ticket items! We’re saving to build and I hope to have the same will power and tenacity when it comes to furnishing. So much better to wait for the right piece than to impulse buy the piece you’ll never be completely happy with.

    We’re all just enjoying being on this journey with you!

  • Celeste
    May 30, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Love this! I just (like today) moved into a bigger place and I’m realizing how empty it is going to be, probably for some time. I want to be deliberate in my furniture and decor choices, bringing in only what I really love. I can’t wait to see how it shapes up, and I’m excited to follow your slow, intentional decorating as well!

  • Stephanie
    May 31, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Yours is the only blog like this that I follow, precisely because of how you approach decorating. It is refreshing and a perspective I try to live by myself. Keep doing what you do. It is your strength, what makes you unique, and why we are here.

  • Melanie
    June 2, 2014 at 12:58 am

    I follow, somewhat obsessively, designer Abigail Ahern’s advice which is always to let the eclectic room grow over time. It’s not a look which can be bought at one store and shipped in like they do on makeover shows. So you do right I think. In fact I wish I had a pinch more of your patience. I bought chairs recently….I love the shape, hate the fabric and one day will get them upholstered (which will cost a fortune!) There were lots of comments from friends yesterday about whether I was given them by some old lady….they couldn’t believe I spent good money on them….I’m going to have to live with people taking the mick a good while I think!