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Making a House (or Apartment) a Home

One thing I was always so excited about was having a space of my own to decorate. Yet when it came to actually decorating our two-story apartment in VA Beach, I realized just how unrealistic it was to expect it would look exactly like something on Pinterest. Most of those homes are coordinated by designers and cost way more than I was willing to spend on the contents. Even just outfitting a whole house with matching products from Target would cost hundreds of dollars.

Pinterest homes are also unrealistic because it doesn’t show them being lived in. There aren’t things like appliances, shoes, and work bags that are used daily. There is a beautiful lodge the company I work for has in Georgia that has been decorated by a designer and featured in magazines. There is also a full-time employee that takes care of the house. She decorates it beautifully for each season and of course it is always immaculate. One time I was looking for something and I realized that cabinets, drawers, and closets were either empty or full of house supplies and decorations because nobody lives there. There doesn’t have to be places for clothes, toiletries, and all the other items you need just for day to day life. This atmosphere is what makes the lodge so special to visit but it isn’t attainable for somebody’s actual house.

Finally, I realized that the images I saw on Pinterest were not me. I am not made of neutral colors and everything matching just right. I like fuzzy, comfy blankets in different patterns, bright wall hangings, pictures of loved ones, and artifacts from places we have been. I can’t wait until we own a place so I can paint the walls whichever color I want; I am planning on painting each room a different color so my house will be a rainbow. I want my house to support our lifestyle, not the other way around. There should be places to easily put shoes, bags, and keys at the end of a long day, appliances we use daily easily accessible, and toys and cat trees for the enjoyment of our pets.

I had to figure all of this out when creating our wedding registry. For me this was one of the most challenging and overwhelming parts of the wedding. I wanted to ask for gifts that brought me joy and would be used but there were so many options. The guides on the internet were completely ridiculous: 50-piece dining sets we would never use, $400 gravy boats, “must haves” that I didn’t even want to use up space to store. Eventually, I set up both a Macy’s and Amazon registry. We also got a decent amount of cash and gift cards. Between everything, I felt like we got everything we needed for a home and items that we would truly use. I had been worried about being overwhelmed with “stuff” and we did end up unwrapping and putting away everything as it came because we didn’t have space for a whole pile of boxes. But I was truly so overjoyed at each of the gifts I got and love remembering who sent them to us. I like to think the variety of options we gave were fun to pick out too. We also got gifts that were not on the registry, and I loved those as well. They were things we wouldn’t pick out on our own, like a cocktail making set that has challenged us to learn different drink recipes and attend a cocktail making class on our honeymoon.

Now that we have everything we need; I am remembering to be grateful and content. There will always be some changes: items getting added while others are given away, yet it is so easy to fall into always searching for (and buying) new home décor. I have been reading more about hedonistic adaptation and how easy it is to keep wanting more and more. You must very intentionally recognize that even if your home isn’t perfect, you have enough. Matt and I have also been exploring used goods for when we move into a bigger place. We found a beautiful table on Offer Up that we now use as our dining room table. Used goods take a little more effort to find but are both frugal, better for the environment, and can give so much satisfaction when you find a good fit! It doesn’t always work to buy used, but we are trying to get into the habit of checking thrift stores or apps such as Offer Up, Thred Up, and Let Go first. We are also interested in joining a local buy nothing group where people often trade or give unneeded items to each other.

 I still look at Pinterest for future ideas. Matt and I have grand plans to make a DIY industrial farmhouse style light fixture, a cat jungle gym built into the wall, a creative work/craft space, and down the line a jungle-themed nursery. But I know when I add these things the room won’t look like it does on Pinterest. It will look like some version of that that is imperfect, uniquely me, and most importantly, real.

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