Over the years, I’ve heard the same thing time and time again in various forms: “I’d love to decorate my home, but I can’t because [insert reason here].”
All the reasons seem perfectly valid ─ time constraints, budget restrictions, not knowing where to begin, and a host of other roadblocks that make having a beautifully put-together home seem like nothing more than a pipe dream (or, at the very least, something in the distant future.) For a lot of people I’ve talked to, decorating seems like a privilege that only people with certain lifestyles can enjoy. Even as a professional decorator, there were times when I fell into this same thought process. I’d focus all of my energy on my clients’ homes but then ignore mine because I was waiting for the “right time.”
Have you ever gotten caught up in any of these misconceptions? If you have, I’ve got some life-changing news for you: NONE of these things have to get in the way of you turning your home into a place that inspires you. You can have the home you want right now.
Your first hurdle is realizing that the blocks you think you have are just challenges that will call on you to use a little more creativity.
Take a look at this list and see if any of the following things are holding you back from creating the home you’d love to have:
1 There’s no room in my budget to decorate and you have to spend lots of money to decorate your home.
This is probably the most common obstacle people face and one I have personal experience with. When you hear the words “decorating on a budget,” that often calls to mind an image of haphazardly painted hand-me-downs and DIY decor that looks like your kid put it together. For one, DIY design isn’t what it used to be ─ there are some incredible projects out there that are easy for even the un-craftiest person to make look chic. But what if you just aren’t the DIY kind of person? What if you just don’t have the time or desire to put into it?
Decorating on a budget doesn’t mean you have to make it from scratch or sacrifice style. There are many things you can do to give your home a designer touch without breaking the bank, even if your budget is a whopping zero. You can still freshen things up with tricks like rearranging the furniture, repurposing items in different spaces, or buying a $5 can of spray paint to turn that ugly sculpture your mother-in-law gave you into a chic piece of art.
If you want some new items without spending a dime, consider organizing a Trading Party with your friends and neighbors. Everyone brings decorative pieces they no longer want and swap with each other, completely free of cost. It’s a lot of fun and you get some new, totally free decor.
2 I’m not going to be able to decorate my home until my kids grow up and move out.
As a mom I can tell you, kids don’t have to cramp your style! While there are certain concessions you’ll have to make (glamorous, furry white carpet is a big no-no), there are some clever ways to work style into the everyday lifestyle challenges that come with living with kids.
Storage is a huge help in any home, but it’s a downright lifesaver in one with kids. It may seem overwhelming at first to think about trying to organize everything, but the long-term benefits are worth it. You can even turn it into a game with your kids to get them in on the action. Let them know you’ll be donating things they don’t keep to people who need it more. Promise them a special treat if they help you get their rooms cleaned up.
Once you’ve got a great storage system in place, it will be much easier to maintain it.
When it comes to decor, the right upholstery and flooring selections will be key. There are lots of durable options on the market nowadays that are stain resistant without compromising style. Many of them are affordable and look great. If you want some quicker fixes, consider slipcovers and area rugs to get the same effect at a lower cost.
Paint finishes are also a factor to consider. A satin finish on the walls, for example, will allow you to wipe off any marks the kids happen to leave behind (dirt, crayons, etc). Painting one wall in an accent color can instantly make a space more dynamic. Simple changes like that will amp up your home’s style without being affected by the kids.
3 I have pets and you can’t decorate with pets.
As someone with three dogs and two cats, I can say without hesitation that this is so not true! Pets are important ─ albeit furry ─ members of the family. They all have their little quirks from shedding profusely to drooling on everything. They like to play and run across your floors with their claws and they will probably track in dirt more often than you’d like.
Fortunately, none of these things have to get in the way of you having a stylish home. Like kids, you just have to make some smart choices. Pet-friendly upholstery and flooring are good places to start. There are scratch-resistant, manufactured flooring options from tile to faux wood, the latter of which is so advanced you can barely tell the difference between the real stuff and the fake stuff. In fact, they even have tile that looks like wood now. There are so many options.
For your furniture, if you really want to have materials that aren’t necessarily pet-friendly, you can use pretty blankets or slipcovers specially made for pets that can go on your furniture when company isn’t around. When you have guests over, simply remove it. Place a rug or runner in high-traffic areas in a color and pattern that doesn’t easily show dirt. Little tricks like this will make decorating with pets much easier.
4 I’m renting and not allowed to paint the walls or make any changes.
When renting an apartment or house, you are often limited to what you can change in it. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be stylish. There are lots of ways you can decorate an apartment or other leased spaces without painting the walls or tearing out those funky colored tiles in the bathroom.
Large pieces of artwork can bring color to the walls, for example. If you aren’t allowed to hang anything or don’t want to worry about filling holes when you leave, decorative screens are a great alternative. Area rugs will help cover up the ugly carpet (and keep it clean so you’ll get your deposit back.) Figure out the things you don’t like about the space and then focus on ways to counteract those downsides with temporary decor.
With a few a tricks, you can put your stamp on it and make it a space that is a reflection of your personality.
5 The person (or people) I share my house with has/have a completely different style than me.
This can seem like an impossible challenge, especially if you have roommates. It causes a lot of people to just throw their hands up and give up. But blending disparate style into a cohesive look can actually result in some very interesting and creative ideas.
Don’t shy away from the differences in taste you have with your partner, family or roommates. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to create a look that is completely new and unique. Being forced to think outside of the box is where many of the most inspired ideas are fostered. Work together on the project; as long as everyone comes to it with an open mind and willingness to both listen and compromise, you’re bound to hit on some magic.
6 I’ve got too much stuff (clutter) in the way and I don’t know what to do with it.
Clutter can be overwhelming, that’s for sure. But tackling it is a lot easier when you go in with a plan. Instead of getting bogged down by the big picture, focus on tackling one small project a time. For example, start with your bedroom and then from there, break it down into smaller projects like your closet, dressers, linen closet, etc.
One of the biggest challenges is deciding what stays and what goes. To help out with that problem, check out this post on decluttering.
7 I’m worried that my friends or family won’t like how I’ve decorated.
Decorating your home is a very personal endeavor. It is an expression of you and what you love, so it can be daunting to put that on display. You may worry that you don’t have good taste or that the look you are drawn to will be judged negatively by other people.
When it comes down to it, your home is for you. You are the one living there, you are the one affected by its atmosphere on a daily basis, and you are the one paying the mortgage or the rent. Decorating to impress others will only stress you out and leave you feeling unfulfilled, because 1) not everyone is going to like the same things, even if you follow all the big trends which are ever-changing, and 2) they’re going to go back home to the decor they love while you’re stuck with something that feels “off” and uninspiring just to please them.
There are so many decorating styles out there because there are so many different tastes. Even the most lauded, respected interior designers in the world have scores of people who are turned off by their designs or flat-out hate them. It’s a form of art. Not everyone is going to like it, but that’s okay!
8 I don’t know how to decorate let alone know where to start.
Not knowing where to begin is quick to cause paralysis in any area of life. Decorating is no exception, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with it. Decorating your home doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be ─ at least most of the time!) a headache. Like anything, it comes down to understanding the basics. If you have an understanding of what elements and practices your favorite spaces on Pinterest share, you’ll be able to use those in your own home to capture that pro look.
That’s why I’ve created The Casa Collective ─ to help guide you along the right path for you and and take the confusion out of decorating. We’ll empower you with with the tools you need to create a home you’ll be proud to share and even happier to live in.
We’ll be launching a free course in decorating basics soon, so be sure to sign up for our mailing list on the form below to be alerted as soon as it is available.
In the meantime, keep checking the blog for weekly tips and ideas to empower the decorator in you.
If you believe you can do it, you will.