Here’s Why You Need to Take a Design “Audit” Of Your Home

published May 27, 2020
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Credit: Andrew Bui

For a long time, I viewed most aspects of my life through an “all or nothing” lens. I could either work out every single day—or not at all. I could save a certain percentage of my income every month, or it wasn’t worth it to even try. This wasn’t necessarily a healthy mindset, but it existed all the same. And I applied the same perspective to my home decor. Nothing seemed good to look at—or display on Instagram—if it wasn’t completely done. 

In my mind there existed a long, jumbled list of all the things that needed to be accomplished to make a space “perfect.” It included everything from making a junk drawer less junky to reorganizing my closet to finally finding the perfect spare room furniture. But even if I accomplished one of those things, it didn’t feel as good if I didn’t tackle them all. And because they all only existed in my head, I had trouble keeping track of most of them to begin with. All I knew is that there was always more to do, and I had to do as much of it as possible to make anything I did feel like it was worth it. The result? I would rush through a laundry list of home decor goals and end up with rooms that didn’t feel quite right, or worse, I’d end up spending money on things I only half-loved and would end up replacing in three months. And then one day, out of sheer boredom, my fiancé and I decided to do something we called a “walk-through” or “audit” of our entire home—and it totally changed how we viewed decorating. And here’s why you should consider doing this, too. 

We spent a few hours going through each and every space and making a detailed, itemized list of what we wanted to change. Everything from a new silverware organizer to a bigger couch to fixing a scratch on the wall got listed, room by room. When we finished the entire audit, we were left with dozens and dozens of to-do items, but none of the tasks felt like the jumbled, overwhelming mess that existed in my brain before. Instead, it felt like a game plan—something actionable and concrete that we could make progress on slowly but surely. Instead of feeling rushed to make a room feel perfect, I felt like we had a plan. Sure, it would take a while to get through all of it, but for the first time, I was looking at a physical list of everything we wanted to get done. And at least I knew that if we went item by item, we’d get through it.  

Each weekend after that, we started making time to go through the list. We’d do a small repair on a Saturday or go thrifting on a Sunday to search for the specific mirror style we had on our list. And slowly, I actually started enjoying the process of decorating instead of being overwhelmed by it. I was no longer searching for every single item I thought I needed to complete a room or convincing myself that none of it would ever be perfect unless I did it all at once. I actually found myself enjoying rooms for the small changes we made little by little and appreciating that we took our time to find just the right piece of furniture or art for a room instead of choosing something that neither of us really loved.

Before I knew it, the process of decorating our house had become a gradual, rewarding activity that we did together instead of a rushed, stressful process that made me feel like I could always be doing more. It sounds counterintuitive, but in a lot of ways the list (even one that long) made me feel like I had a concrete vision for our home instead of an endless, overwhelming stream of tasks in my head. And knowing that we weren’t rushing to complete rooms or spend money on things that we wouldn’t love in the long-term? Well, that felt pretty darn good, too, even if it meant a space wouldn’t be “perfect” for a long time. And truthfully? The “audit” of our space taught me that I’m not as interested in perfect spaces as I once thought I was. Turns out that spending time thoughtfully, slowly creating a home is a lot more rewarding than whatever “perfect” is or could ever be.