I love looking through images of beautiful spaces for inspiration, encouragement and motivation, but sometimes all the ideas start to clog up my brain, and I'm filled with a deep sense of lassitude. In other words, I start comparing my home to picture-perfect, stylist-cultured, magazine-ready spaces, and I feel discontent about the walls I have to look at every day. I call it catalog burn-out — also known as Pinterest fatigue and magazine exhaustion. To combat this syndrome, I think it's important to reassess our homes for what they should be — a place to thrive, to create memories, to have a shelter away from the world; I have to ask myself sometimes if I am striving to create a space that looks impressive or a space that represents me and feels… well, just right. To get back on track, I like to step away from the computer, amend my goals, and make some changes.
Here are a few things you can do to refresh your perspective and gently nudge your home or apartment into a more graceful, creative space that is unique to you. And all it really takes is patience, time, and a little hard work.
• Organize what you have; a clean, organized home is halfway there. Clutter is the first enemy of a peaceful, inspiring space. I have to remind myself of this rule often if I am feeling discouraged or overwhelmed about a room—simply de-cluttering a space is an instant energizer!
• Donate or recycle extra items. An important part of de-cluttering is paring down what you have to the essentials. I sometimes find myself moving or handling things that I never, ever use—I recently realized a drawer in my kitchen held about fifteen different rectangular pot holders that I don't even like. Reducing "copies" of things is a good way to pare down.
• Bring out things you love. Once you realize how much space you've freed up with the clutter gone, you can choose several things that represent you to use in your space. I love hand-thrown pottery, and have bought several pieces over the years that I really love. I never used the pieces in my décor until recently—I didn't have a place to put them, and was always saving them for "something special." I finally realized a very special way to use them was to bring them out for everyday use in my home.
• Carefully collect new things to love. I am what some would (lovingly, of course) call a tight-wad. I almost never buy an item on impulse, even if I love it. But I've learned—especially at garage sales or thrift stores—that if I love a piece, and it's in the budget, to go ahead and get it. Slowly collecting things that I love over the years will really help make my home feel unique and personal.
• Reconsider existing wall art. Imagine taking down everything currently hanging on your walls and looking at them in a fresh way. Are there things that are too small—or too big—for your wall space? Do you have photos or art that could be changed out for something new? Do you have art hanging up that you aren't really that fond of? I have a few paintings my grandfather brought my grandmother back from Korea when he was stationed there during the Korean War, and I treasure them—but I don't like the way I have them framed. Changing out the frames or mats will go a long way toward helping me love the space they are in.
• Make some new art! I frequently paint over old paintings that I'm ready to say goodbye to. If you're not the painting type, create some easy art with magazine cuttings, paint chips, or cardstock. Or try something new—recently I bought a few things at a craft store to make linocut prints. I made a few simple printings on some cardstock, slipped them in a simple frame—and I love them!
• Rearrange furniture. I love rearranging a room and giving it a new feel and fresh perspective. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to move our furniture around and see if I can improve on a room. It's also a good excuse to vacuum those never-seen parts of your rugs and floor—nothing beats knowing there aren't any secret dust collections hiding in nooks and crannies. A new furniture layout means you get to rethink your space—changing the position of indirect lighting and art can do a lot for making a room feel new.
• Switch rooms. Almost every bedroom in my house has once been an office, a guest room, or my bedroom. It almost gives you that just-moved-in feeling when you get to decide where everything will go in a new space. Sometimes I wonder what I would do with my office if it were in the current nursery. So I find out!
• Bring in some fresh foliage. Even in the winter, you can bring in evergreens or bare branches. I realized this summer that if I cut fresh flowers from my gardens and brought them indoors, it instantly perked up the room. Sounds obvious, but I had never done it before because I was hesitant to cut anything blooming in my garden. But I've gotten braver, and it has paid off; bring in what you are drawn to in nature.
• Try to ignore trends and imagine what you like. Sure, I've picked up many ideas on the internet or in magazines, but the things that have lasted in my home have been things that I was drawn to just because they spoke to me. Don't be afraid to try something that you've never seen anyone do in their home—all great ideas were at some point done for the first time!
Remember that what makes your home special to you is the extension of you and your family's personalities. If your home is clean, comfortable, and represents you, it's special. Sometimes when I start feeling discouraged about my home, I remember that my family, my kids, and even my guests won't remember how stylish or trendy my space was years down the road. What they will remember is the feeling of being cared for, sheltered, and maybe even inspired by the little place we call home.
What about you? Do you sometimes need a break from all the pinning—I mean, pining—on the internet? What are your tips for making your home special to you?
Image : Jen Siska from Erin & Danny's House Tour on Apartment Therapy