How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You’ll Love

How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You'll Love

In a day and age where entire houses appear to be entirely redecorated in the span of one TV show and blogs make style seem as easy as the perhaps now over used phrase “just decorate with what you love,” it can be a little intimidating to know where to begin when you are on a budget. Especially when you are looking at a house that has very little you love and no style you ever would choose on your own. And unfortunately if we decorate with everything we love there’s a possibility we might not love it all together :-).

Where DO you begin to decorate with what you love? While everyone might have their own opinion on what to do first, the reality is if you are truly decorating in a way that is authentic and meaningful to you, there is no “one size fits all” answer to the question of where you should begin. The rule to start with a favorite fabric or a rug or a chair or a sofa only works in a circumstance where 1) you have the money to purchase the ideal piece 2) you find the exact right item you love at the right moment on the right budget 3) you are starting from scratch with money to spend or 4) you actually NEED and want that recommended piece and it wouldn’t look ridiculous with everything you already have.

If only it was as easy as following a one-size fits all formula! Yet, getting started doesn’t have to be complicated.

The reality for most of us is you have to start with what you have, or what you find on the budget you have and in what order you find it in, and then evolve from there. It’s not a perfect formula, but it’s your home, not a show room!

So if you can afford to shop for everything you need, should you just run to your local retailers and buy everything you love or the whole set of furniture and be done with it? No, probably not. Even if you could do that, you would be missing out on the journey. Discovering what you love, what suits the home you are in and what enhances the life you live there is what makes the journey of creating a home so personal.

Being in a rush to “finish” often means you buy things that aren’t necessarily the best choice in the long runYet, I don’t believe everything you acquire has to be a perfect showstopper for that space. The “perfect piece” or combination of elements might take years to find, but it’s so much fun to hunt for it over the years! If we are on a budget, we might add or acquire things that fill a need for the time being. That’s OK. Don’t spend money on something temporary that you don’t like at all though, instead buy something you’ll like in other rooms down the road. That way when you find the ideal piece for that space in your home, you can simply rearrange what you had to make room for something you love more in that spot.

How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You'll Love

Sometimes you want some sense of order in the process so you let yourself enjoy something that makes your home “better than it was,” even if it isn’t exactly how you envision it long term. That’s OK too. Having a sofa that isn’t perfectly your style so you have something to sit on isn’t a decorating mistake if it works for your family in this season of your life. My house has been in process for years. I’ve worked with what I had and changed things as I could. It’s not perfect, but evolving! That’s part of the fun (and honestly, it is part of the challenge too)!

Creating a home is like a never ending love story. Let your style evolve. Every home tells a different story and every chapter of our life brings a fresh perspective. You clear out things that are no longer beautiful or useful and move them to a new home or another room. Then you are ready for new things to come in.

Decorating your home in a style you love doesn’t happen overnight. If we are impatient and want it done NOW, we might assume the only way others create a beautiful home is by spending a fortune in a short period of time to make it “perfect.”

But when you are on a budget like most people, you add one layer at a time and make do with what you can afford or already have. You get creative. You learn contentment with how it is now, but enjoy knowing it has greater potential in time. Sometimes you might go on a little decorating spree and update a number of things at once. You might go on a wall painting spree. Or remodel a kitchen. Or find a few new pieces of furniture in a short period of time. That’s fun! Other times you might just add a new pillow or a lamp, or a coat of white paint on that same old table. And in some seasons, you just pause for awhile and savor what you already have and avert your eyes from things you will deal with another day.

How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You'll Love

What worked for you a few years ago may no longer work as well now. Don’t feel you are stuck with what you already have. It’s time to refresh it, let it go or start the hunt for something new. What you loved at one point may not be right for how you live today. Your style evolves. When it comes to decorating, it’s OK to let go of something you once thought you loved in order to make room for something better. That is why decorating slowly on a budget appeals to my sense of creativity. Flexibility in my style allows me to evolve and feel creative at home, even when I don’t have much time or money. I don’t have to feel stuck with something or fear regretting a purchase if I don’t spend too much (unless I am pretty sure it will be a staple piece in my home for years to come).

The more you work at it, the better it will probably be. It’s like anything you devote yourself to, it usually gets better with trial, error and practice. If you see a style you love, study it and start working towards incorporating that same vibe knowing it might take you awhile to get there. It’s likely that the owner of the house you admire took a long time to acquire that look too (or had their decorator shop for them to speed things up! Heh!).

And even if a mistake is made along the way, that is part of living a full life. Live life and decorate with GUSTO. Try new things. You will try some things and they won’t always work. Learn from it and move on!

How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You'll Love

It’s not easy to decorate slowly, it is hard patiently piecing things together over time. It would seem much easier to go buy all the beautiful things you love that already go together and fit perfectly in your space! Yet in the seasons where you find things you truly love and can afford and know will be with you for the long haul, you can be all the more grateful for them because you waited for it and thought about it for a very long time. It’s so much more meaningful when your style evolves with you.

And acquiring things you love over time might give your home a more interesting story to tell! My living room has been nearly empty or in various stages of transition for a very long time. I put things in there for awhile but then I move them out again to a better spot in the house. While that process might feel slow or even like it is going backwards at times, like you aren’t making any real progress, it’s what happens as you are refining your style for the home you are in. Parts of your home might go through awkward phases and setbacks, like a tween :-), where it has potential but still something isn’t quite put together yet.

You know with endless funds you could fill it with perfect furniture, but instead you wait for the right time. You watch for the right piece. You work with what you have. You save. And then, when you do find what you want at a price you can afford, you are ready to commit! That process can take a long time, so you might as well try to enjoy every step along the way!

I think the care we put into a home over time makes it all the more lovely!

How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You'll Love

What are your thoughts, challenges or feelings on decorating your home over time?

How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You'll Love

Order my book Love the Home You Have (NYT Bestseller!) at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You'll Love

How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You'll Love

Order my book Simple Decorating at Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Jump-start your style and refresh your home with budget-friendly and practical ideas from my book Simple Decorating! You’ll learn to embrace your style, reimagine your spaces, and transform hard-to-love areas into favorite destinations.

How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You'll Love

How to Decorate: The Slow Process to A Style You'll Love


  1. Lisa Stevens says

    Help Melissa! What do you do when you have many pieces that were your husbands grandmothers and they don’t even fit your style???? It’s all Victorian furniture and we live in a ranch style home! I need to recover or something to incorporate into my design which is British colonial. I’m very frustrated.

    • I love British Colonial. The great thing about that style is it is actually a mix of antique styles, so perhaps you can work it all in to suit what you dream it to be! When I picture British Colonial, I see dark wood and white slipcovers and a mix of antiques. LOVE!

      If you don’t already have enough white, perhaps start by getting as much into the space as possible to simplify and contrast with the heavier fussier Victorian pieces. White walls, white curtain panels, etc. If you have upholstered Victorian pieces, maybe one at a time or as you can, recover them in a white or soft neutral rather than anything heavy or patterned. I think the secret to working with all those antiques might be to do away with a lot of pattern, clutter and fussiness elsewhere so the antiques can stand out as beautiful instead of feel overwhelming in everything else you have. If that makes sense?

      Good luck :-) …. if you can’t find a way to make them work and they are just not right, maybe see if your husband would let you sell a few of them to someone who can use and love them. Keep one or two special ones as heirlooms and let the rest go.

  2. I so agree with what you are saying. I am 65 years young and have been decorating since I was 13. I designed the home we live in. We had a custom builder draw up blueprints, based on my graph paper drawings. For the most part, it worked out beautifully. We have been here for 23 years and it still fells new to me. Usually, about once a month, i will walk through the rooms and decide a chair from thr living room should go up to the guest room. A lamp may get replaced ormaybe just get anew shade. I had purchased a colection of bottles, all different shapes and sizes that had been painted a matte aqua. The bottles were not any thin special, some look as though they might has been beer bottles. I bought them when we did a 3 year stint in a condo in another city. When we moved back to our home I contued to use them on a library table in the living room. They goy put away to make room for holiday decoration, and I never put them back out. I have gone backto adecorating phase I had whenyoung, of displaying pictures. I have an antique gateleg table inmy foyer which is the “family”table, one in the living room that is all of the dogs we haveloved, ours,and others. Then there is the library tablr filled wiyh pic os friends. It is wonderfulto sit among those smiling faces and rememher the fun times, sed the kids now grown, with babes of their own. It would probably look caotic ir I had not had the good decorating sense to put them allin tlr same silver frame. Different sizes but all matching. I continue to decorate shopping the rooms in my home. One piece of advice I would like to pass along, it was given to me by a woman whobecame my dear friend,thouh much olcer thanI…she said to me when my husband was on the way up in the corporate world, one she had lived n through her husband for many years, ….she said, when you travel to a new city or go to a resort for a retreat, or to E urope, don’waste your monet on a bunch of knick-nacks and souveniers,….BUY ONE GOOD THING THAT YOU LOVE, a painting, a piece of pottery, a tapestry…..something that will stand the test of time. I found that tobe the best advice i evef got. I buy paintings, or at least copies and when I walk through my home I canlook at a painting or print and think Ireland, Charlestom,Atlanta, the Dominican Republic, and so on. Recalling those memories is such a joy, one of the smartest decorating ideas I have ever used.

    • AMEN! I agree wholeheartedly. No cheap knicknacks from the travels … I’ve always collected line drawings or water colors and they remind me of so many wonderful trips!

    • I am Turing 65 and these words were so inspirational and similar to my own life. For first time I have time to walk around love and absorb what’s in my house. I am also doing some DIY at the beach house. This is my first time commenting on a Blog and I love this site and reading the wise comments of others. I’ve got lots of “stuff” and need to learn how to move it around to get a “new” look because I like updating but really need to learn how to use the things I have. Thanks All and keep the ideas coming.

    • This advice really jibes with me. I love memories, but I don’t love clutter and cheap garbage. I just read about the cantaloupe rule–no decorative items smaller than a cantaloupe to keep things from looking cluttered. We move a lot, and I like the idea of one good thing. Thank you. That’s really inspiring to me. One good thing bigger than a cantaloupe.

  3. I am a member of the evolve-over-time decorating club.
    It’s a plus for me, that I have loved the same colors since I was a wee lass, so lots of what’s new goes with what I already own.
    In our new house, my plans involve tweaking my dark blue + red scheme a bit, by mixing in lots of pale blues (loving the pastels lately!)
    I will say bye bye to (most of) the buttery “Beeswax” (by Behr) that’s been my go-to neutral in my last 2 homes . . . + introduce lots of warm grays in its place.
    Fun post!

  4. You have said so well what we all deal with when we love to decorate but don’t want to or can’t spend lots of money. It is fun to search for the right accessories and furniture and yet sometimes it is so hard to wait!! I like how you said that you take the time to enjoy what you have already done to a room that you love, while turning a blind eye to the things that you don’t love. Good advice. Thanks for posting.

  5. Elizabeth says

    For me, I have to live in a space for about two years before the ideas start flowing. For the first year, I feel like I’m not really in my own space. Once that feeling settles, ideas start to form for about a year. Then, it’s like it all comes together in my mind and I hit the ground running. We have been in our place for almost two years. This is the first time I’ve really had a porch and it has taken me a minute to figure it out. About a month ago, I started with a table and chair and now the whole thing is almost done. I’ll bring in a piece which inspires my next move-kind of like chess! The final piece has been surprising elusive-an outdoor rug to anchor and soften everything. We live in Germany and I don’t think this idea has caught on yet!

    • YES YES YES!!! I know exactly what you mean. It takes me a couple of years too and then I start to get a better feel for the space and what it needs! Hmmm, maybe you should bring the outdoor rug solution to Germany! :-D

  6. I really appreciate how down to earth you are. Not everyone has a big budget, time, or sometimes the know-how to decorate in a style they love. As time goes by, and after making some mistakes, I am slowly learning to bide my time, stick to the basics, be patient, and most importantly–mindful in my decorating. It has made me more appreciative of what I do have, and has also forced me to look at my furniture and accessories with a more objective eye. Thank you for putting it all into words. I rarely, if ever, comment, but I read your blog faithfully as it is one of my favourites. Plus, I am in love with Jack and Lily! Have a beautiful day!

  7. Stephanie Pontius says

    These “over time” thoughts are great therapy for me. I’ve been an Air Force spouse for 17 years, and we’ve moved 9 times in that 17 years. And, as a true nester that has been quite a challenge. Now that we are settled (we hope), I’m working on getting over the frantic feeling I have with my home to get it all just perfect before I have to pack it up again. I need to exhale and just take my time! And, I might finally have a couple of seasons to zero in on the climate, and maybe I’ll stop having gardening failure. Wish me luck! Love love love The Inspired Room.

    • Oh I’m right there with you Stephanie! I’ve moved almost as many times. It is exhausting! I slowly decorated other houses too but always had to MOVE and leave it all behind just as I was getting in my groove for that house. Now I’m hoping to exhale and enjoy living here as long as possible! :-D It takes time to get a feel for what your house needs, just like gardening!! Have fun :-)

  8. Thanks so much for this wonderful post. I so appreciate that you give us the encouragement to wait for what is right for us and our homes and not “do it now” but let it happen over time. Seeing your map [wrapping paper] wall again reminds me too, that happenstance can be great. If memory serves me correctly, you were going to paste them to the wall but when that didn’t work, you pinned them. I love it!! Its authentic, functional, out of the box – what a great lesson! You’re the best!

    • That’s right!!! They were maps I hung on to in a closet forever. Finally I wanted to do SOMETHING with them so on a whim I tried something that failed. Ha! But I tried again and it became a quirky wall I LOVE — it makes me smile every day now! :-D Thanks Faith!!! xo

  9. Thank you so much for this post. I am in the “growing impatient” phase of decorating. We have been living in our house going on 4 years and it is still unfinished when it comes to decorating. We built our house with transitional style in mind. Only to find out that it felt cold once we moved in. I realized 2 years ago that the farmhouse style and mixing antique and vintage pieces with new items bettersuit our personal style and our home. That left me starting over at square one. However, during the process, I am learning what I love and what I don’t. I have purchased pieces that I thought would work in our space and they didn’t because I was impatient. The biggest lesson that I am learning is to take my time and buy what I love rather than being hasty in my purhcases only to end up with something that I will never use. I have been there many times and end up wasting time and money. Thanks again for the encouragement.

    • It is a process, that’s for sure! But once you start to get a better idea of what you and your house wants, it becomes more fun!! I had trouble thinking about what I wanted for my house when I moved in, it was new and builder style but my old house was an English Tudor. Two different worlds! Now I feel like I’m starting to get in my groove but still evolving and rearranging and adding and taking away … eventually I think I’ll get it right :-) or at least have fun trying!

  10. This is said perfectly. When I started decorating our home it was a blank slate. Just moved in. We had a lot of hand me downs and college era furniture. This was our first full on interior decorating attempt. So I had it easy with a blank slate. But it has still evolved through the years. I love the story my home has to tell. The personal touches of places visited, memories made, furniture redone ourselves. If I had done it all right when we moved in these stories would not be in my home. I would not have a shell/coastal display gallery wall. I would not have an amazing art table for the kids. My home turned into what it is today. And I still find myself shifting, using more color, simplifying my accessories. I at one point imagined eventually I will be “done” decorating my home. But I know now I wont, and I don’t want to. The journey, dreaming, planning, trying, failing, getting a great deal, making something from nothing, redoing old furniture is much more appealing and fun then a pretty room to sit in. I don’t ever want to be done. I love what you said, it was perfect. I will be sharing this post. It explains why I have done what I did. Thank you!

  11. karen on bainbridge island says

    A very thoughtful piece that you’ve written. I agree that home decor must evolve and change over time. If we didn’t change things, we wouldn’t be decorating, we would have decorated. Where is the fun in having something completed, then stagnant?

    I do subscribe to the buy what you love theory and being willing to spend on an item you will have for a long while. However, even if you invest in a big ticket piece for the long haul, it is alright to eventually let go of it when you need to move on to new decorating adventures.

  12. Madeline says

    I totally agree. I hate to see a room that has been purchased as a whole because it is so impersonal. I recently purchased a beach condo that I intend to use when I retire and I have had so much fun shopping my home. It made me realized how much I truly love some of my things because they all have a story. I purchased them while traveling, a family member gave me a piece, or I spent lots of time refinishing it. What really amazes me is that I am using things purchased 40 years ago in my new condo and it reminds me of my first apartment (which I loved).

  13. Melissa, this is such wonderful advice for anyone. I was just working on a post and reflecting on the “moments” in our house that we’ve created and enjoy so much, because our home is no where near being “done” but that’s perfectly okay with me. I want it to evolve over time and not to look like I bought everything at once. It’s a story, a journey (which you so perfectly said) and it’s a FUN journey. I love to scour through thrift stores trying to find things that catch my eye. I’ve also shopped my Mom’s house for things too that she is happy to give me (thank goodness). To address the first reader’s comment, heirlooms are meaningful but I don’t think you have to hold onto every piece of furniture from Grandma. It can be tough to let go, but only keep what you know you will really enjoy and use.

    • I agree! It’s like a game to see what you can do, use and find over time. I have such fun with creating a home! :-)

    • Love the down to earth advice. We all need a dose of reality when decorating. We all care what people think of our homes but we don’t know what the future holds financially so we much save for a rainy day. Regarding Grandma’s heirlooms be sure to check with any other relatives or close friends that might buy it from you. I would hope my cousins would do that with what they can’t use anymore.

  14. MELISSA! I could not agree more, that is why my tag line is, “ENJOY THE PROCESS!” It has to take time to take on the homeowners personality. There is nothing prettier than a room that has pieces that have been collected over time. I take years to get the look I want, case in point, my kitchen. It has been over 37 years in the making and it is now the kitchen I have always dreamed of, nothing fancy, but totally ME!!
    Love this post and I am going to share it on FB!! Thank you for being YOU!! xo

  15. I like the idea of decorating slowly, bringing in new pieces to fit in with what you already have because the existing pieces tell a story. But I had to sort of start over last year. i was living with my friend while I searched for a condo to buy. I didn’t expect to buy things a bit at a time, but it sort of happened because I would see something I totally LOVE, and buy it. I had no idea what my space was going to be like, or not sure if everything “tied in” together. But when I finally moved in my condo a few months ago, things surprisingly worked. It is a very small condo (525 sq feet) and the only thing I really need and worth waiting for the “right” piece, is a narrow media console/sideboard to ground my flat screen TV. I like the feeling of individually picking up things I love, and then at the end working. By the way Melissa, thanks for the amazing blog and design ideas you have. I always look forward to opening your blog and I LOVE your style. Would you ever do a blog on decorating TINY spaces? Would love to see more of those! Also, would you (or anyone) know where I can get a narrow sideboard (maximum depth of 15″) perferably in reclaimed barn/boat wood with a few shots of turquoise color. Thanks for the amazing work!!!!

    • I love writing about small spaces and do that from time to time but I should really try one on TINY spaces! Great idea. I would LOVE that, I enjoy small spaces so much!!!

      Also, I’m sighing and nodding my head with you at your hunt for a narrow sideboard. I have been hunting for something like that as well!!! It’s been a long time and I’m still waiting :-/. I see things that work work from time to time, but I have a few other particular things I want like drawers and a certain length, and it always seems what I find is not right. I’ll email you if I find anything that you might be interested in!

      • Awesome Melissa!!! I look forward to the read!!!! –If you would like to use my tiny space – you have free reign to decorate for your blog! :)

        Thank you, I appreciate your keeping me in mind if you see a sideboard that might be suitable for me.

        Here are two that I found. (If any of them sound suitable for your space I can email pictures and the store where to find them)

        The first one is the one I LOOVE, but it’s a bit high (42″) to hang a TV above since my living room is only 10′ wide, and I don’t want to crank my neck if the TV is too high. Also price point is a little high.

        1. Reclaimed barnwood w/ hints of turquioise – closed with glass panelled doors
        Length 60″; Depth 16″; Height 42″
        Price $1,699 CAD

        2. Distressed wood – brown and beige – with lots of drawers
        Length 60″; Depth 12″; Height 38″
        Price $1,599 CAD + 20% off (they are having a sale)

        Thanks for the amazing work you do!! Always look forward to your blogs!!

  16. Great post & so true. I love this clock- is it yours?? Where can I find one??

  17. I just wanted to tell you that I love this post!! I think its great advise.

    Also, thank you for the Memorial day post!

  18. Amen… Decorating for me has been like you said a never ending love story. I have had plenty seasons of change…some that are better than others.
    Thank you for being the voice of understanding and reason when it come to decorating.
    I hope someday we meet. =)
    Have a wonderful day

  19. Well said! We purchased a home two years ago that we use on weekends and will eventually retire to. I have been taking it room by room. Sometimes I get frustrated that it isn’t DONE, but I really want what I want and am not willing to settle. If it takes me 15 years, at least it will be exactly what I want. I pinned this blog post so I can read it when I need a reminder to enjoy the journey :-)

  20. Good advice. We have moved over 30 times between army life and overseas second career work. That is an opportunity and a challege. Furniture was changed when the movers crunched a peice. We finally took up residence in our old.. old farmhouse. I get the minus -3 year itch regularly which my husband does not. I have had to learn to love this place. Most of the cheap auction furniture had been tossed to the curb. There was no style, just need. We had not stored much when we moved overseas for years. There is so much beauty and creativeness abounding in the homemaking, decorating world I have had a time settling. Mostly it is because it has taken this long to get to know this house that is so different from quarters, bought homes and apartments. We had to get to know each other. I am finally at peace with that slow process. Of course expense is a factor. As for traveling, we bought art…street art to gallery art. We also bought significant crystal or pottery pieces, a mix of quality and price. We did not buy anything we did not love, at least at the time. Jim bought me beautiful small boxes that were easy to pack. So even if my auction couch is ugly, my art looks great and my sidetables are elegant!

    • I love that!!! Enjoy getting to know your home. It really does take time to get to know it’s personality and quirks so you can dress it right!

      I love what you said about your furniture and art…enjoy what you have that you DO LOVE! That makes it worth the wait. :-)

  21. I pinned this, can I give it to EVERY client I work with????

  22. This. This post. Thank you. Melissa, as long as I have followed your blog, you rock my world when I least expect it. Great post.

  23. I am starting with my sixth blank canvas in 12 years of marriage-next month (and I plan on not moving for a very long time after this one;)…I have some really nice furniture pieces but the material will not work in our new design plan…does anyone know how cost effective it is to reupholster a sofa…would slip covering be a better option?? Anyone?

  24. I love this post, Melissa, and I completely agree! Out of necessity (budget) and will (so that it looks beautiful & interesting), I am also decorating our house very slowly. I love the look of a home that has unique pieces sprinkled throughout that the homeowner obviously thought very hard about. Your house is gorgeous! XO

  25. Joancelle says

    I have been looking for a small French cup drying rack like the one in your picture. The ones i have found are too big.
    Where did you find that one?

  26. Patty Aslin says

    Good Morning Melissa…Patty from Colorado here! I believe the best decorated homes are the ones that have evolved over time. I also believe if you find something you truly love, you can make it work somewhere in your home. Never worry about what someone might think of how you have decorated your home, because so often people love what you have done, but do not have the decorating confidence to just do it themselves. If a home is put together with thought and love…..and your family who lives there loves it….it should not matter what others think! Who is to say what is right or wrong when it comes to decorating…..just decorate with the purpose of making it your ” HOME SWEET HOME” and have a lot of fun treasure hunting for just the right pieces to pull it all together! Blessings, Patty from Colorado

  27. Awesome Melissa!!! I look forward to the read!!!! –If you would like to use my tiny space – you have free reign to decorate for your blog! :)

    Thank you, I appreciate your keeping me in mind if you see a sideboard that might be suitable for me.

    Here are two that I found. (If any of them sound suitable for your space I can email pictures and the store where to find them)

    The first one is the one I LOOVE, but it’s a bit high (42″) to hang a TV above since my living room is only 10′ wide, and I don’t want to crank my neck if the TV is too high. Also price point is a little high.

    1. Reclaimed barnwood w/ hints of turquioise – closed with glass panelled doors
    Length 60″; Depth 16″; Height 42″
    Price $1,699 CAD

    2. Distressed wood – brown and beige – with lots of drawers
    Length 60″; Depth 12″; Height 38″
    Price $1,599 CAD + 20% off (they are having a sale)

    Thanks for the amazing work you do!! Always look forward to your blogs!!

  28. I love this post. I agree with this method, slow over time to find what you truly love. My problem is that I grew up in a family that kept everything forever or until it absolutely fell apart-to make the most out of it. I struggle with feeling guilty over changing something out when it is still perfectly good, but no longer my taste or style. It takes the fun out of change for me. But I keep working at it because I really want to live in a space that I feel good about and reflects who I am.

  29. I’m a wait it out kind of girl. Sometimes it benefits me because I find exactly what I wanted at the right price. Sometimes I walk into a room that is basically empty and shake my head and want to just FILL IT! (Don’t worry, it passes as soon as I sit down.)

  30. Sarah Clark says

    I really needed to hear this! I’m trying to wait and find the perfect pieces for my house, but finding it very difficult to find a style to fit our house. We have a house built in the early 90’s with lots of oak trim. I love the look of white trim and how it makes the wall color and décor pop. It seems like white trim coordinates well with all sorts of looks–rustic, formal, etc. How do I achieve that sort of style with oak trim without the décor seeming out of place?

    • Well, I think if you don’t want to or can’t change it then you just work with it! Perhaps basically ignore it and do what you really want to do. At first you might feel like the oak trim is a distraction but once you do enough of what you love in your home, I bet you’ll hardly even notice it. Maybe just consider the oak trim to be another rustic type of feature and see if you can reimagine your space with a balance of lighter woods and white and pretty colors!

    • I recently painted my bedroom a dark glossy hunter green and it really makes the natural golden maple trim pop.

  31. what a wonderful, thought-provoking post Melissa, thank you! I admit to falling into the trap of ‘get it all done now, this minute, just like they do on TV!’ …but when I decorate a room like that, it invariably leaves me feeling empty. those are the rooms I end up redoing, and at a more leisurely pace the 2nd [or 3rd!] time around. I love the idea of rooms that look collected over time, they tell much better stories about their inhabitants :-)

    thanks as always for sharing with us…and for the great eye candy pics!

  32. Hi, Melissa!
    I need to completely redo my living room except for the floors and wall paint. I have a fireplace that is painted white over red brick and it’s ugly. Not doing away with the fireplace but want to recover it with something. My question is where in the room should I start? Should I start with recovering the surround on the fireplace or start with choosing the new furniture?

  33. Beautiful post. “Creating a home is like a never ending love story”….Love that! Congrats on your BHG Blogger award!

  34. What a lovely post. Like so many other commenters, I thought your advice was full of grace and wisdom. Not too many people live without budget constraints on home dec, and a lot of us have shoestring budgets! I’ve gotten less impatient in our 3 years of marriage with this fixer upper, but I certainly have my moments still. We really did start with very little stuff, so there was big stuff that can’t be fixed with new textiles or paint or free art- the too small bed (a full), the lack of dining table & chairs, and the 80’s leather sofa set. The first two are solved and I finally got the ok to put savings toward getting a new sofa by year’s end. Paint, fabric, paper, ingenuity, and bargain hunting can take you a long way when you’ve got some basic good bones! Next up the knotty pine kitchen, with trashed doors and shelves… that won’t be remodeled anytime soon sadly, but some sanding and white paint and DIY counter refinishing will hold me over for a long time.

  35. Hi Melissa, it’s so nice to hear that others don’t finish a room all in one go or able to find that perfect piece straight away. Since finishing a large home reno eighteen months ago I have been rediscovering my style and slowly adding bits and pieces to my home. Wall art is one item I find particularly tricky to choose, probably because I have champagne taste on a beer budget. At times I get frustrated by my bland walls but I know that in the long term it will be worth the wait.

    Sarah x

  36. Simply, thank you. You’ve given joy back to my love of interior design. Through freedom creativity thrives. I’m ready to take a fresh look around and be inspired again.

  37. I’m a little late but I wanted to thank you for this post! It shows me decorating a house can be done even if it takes like what seems to be forever.

    After going through a hard divorce and having to move out, I was left with old furniture from my previous relationship and no money to redecorate. I only had the basic furniture such as couch, tv, bed, dresser and kitchen table… all purchased by my ex! Nothing I really liked, nothing with my personal touch. Frustrating much?

    I refused to stay in such depressing environment but I had no money to redecorate, so I started asking friends and family if they had furniture they weren’t using… I wasn’t willing to say yes to everything but in a matter of 6 months I had kicked out almost all of my old stuff and replaced them with some very nice furniture (including some antiques!). Some needed to be fixed ans repainted but it made them unique and more like they belong to me. Then I took another year to add rugs, lamps and pillow as I was on a budget and could only purchase a new item each month. Since last spring, I started purchasing the little extra things such as books, frames, potted plants, etc. Since I’m still on a budget, I hope to be done by next year.

    I estimate that with as little as 1500$ and lots of patience and hard work (sanding a 9 drawers dressers without a sanding machine IS DAMN LONG AND HARD! but so worth it) I will have a home that I love and that reflects my bohemian-chic style. And I have to say : your home inspires me a LOT!

  38. Lucy Devore says

    I am putting wood and tile downstairs in my house. I have enough wood to tile my second floor excluding the bedrooms. Is this acceptable? Or should I just carpet the second floor? For some reason I really want to put hard wood on my stairs.

    • I have hardwood stairs and I have loved them! Most of my house is hardwood except for two bedrooms and our media room are carpet, and our bathrooms are tiled. It’s definitely personal preference, but I love having hardwood floors in a bedroom best, but carpeting is nice and cozy too!

  39. In the next few months we will be moving into a house built in the 60’s. A lot of my antique furniture was bought when we lived in a big Victorian in the 80’s. Then we moved into a Craftsman. My furniture still fit in and all the rooms were painted in warm, natural colors. Now, I’ve chosen light, creamy color. Very neutral and wondering how I’m going to make it all work. I’m looking forward to living in a light, airy home. I’m thinking of moving toward light, colorful, fabrics for pillows and throws, I have drapes with colors, that I love, but on a cream background. They will be my jumping off point. I recognize that it will be a slow process, a journey.

  40. I feel design always was for the masses about a journey and collection of searched for finds. The new day and age of TV has made some folks think that designers walk in point to a corner and say this goes here that goes there and wham it’s done. Even the best of designers don’t have that talent. It’s a lot of playing and taking back and thought and work and redos. THEN IT GETS ON TV. I like the room to tell me bit by bit and find by find what it needs and what I love. It’s a story to me and the found objects are so fun. When I soak in the room and it gets in my head and in my heart, I see the right piece and I know if it’s right or not. If by some chance it isn’t, well then it usually fits in one of my other rooms since my taste or the most part all works with each other. I spend a lot of time in a new room. I research soak it in and learn its feel. It’s exciting fun and like a labor of love. TV has done both good and bad for design. Know this…….you don’t and they don’t just waltz in and click they know every little thing they want to do. Relax enjoy and build on that vision. I bet it will be great.

  41. Great ideas. I have been doing this for a few years now. Waiting for the inspired items to show up, or making them. And being flexible! Putting a link back on my blog. Nancy@LittlehomesteadinBoise

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