I think I began decorating in early grade school. I clearly remember drawing a dividing line down the middle of the room that I shared with my sister, and guarding the tidiness, organization, and flow of my half of the space. My tomboy self lived outdoors on the acres of land that my parents owned, and even in our tree-branch “forts” I would arrange flowers, snacks, and blankets.
We all create art in different ways. And, I found a creative outlet in home decor and design.
But, let’s be clear. In over 12 years of marriage, we have never had much of a budget for home decor much less for anything NEW for our home. And perhaps that has been a gift in disguise. I’ve always had to use my imagination and mix and match items and styles and Craigslist finds (when that was still a thing before Facebook Marketplace proved itself soooo much better). Now, I get asked if I’m an interior designer (and I even have my first side project this summer for a doctor’s office in Houston), and I have to smile and shake my head…
A quick evolution of my interior design passion:
+Multiple basement apartments, non-ideal home situations, and living with family gave me an eye for maintaining VERY small spaces.
+I have a rather amazing group of artists and photographers in my life. They have all gifted me different pieces of insight into the way to mix colors, appreciate textures, and figure out what I love.
+I first fell in love with the vintage farmhouse vibe and visited many open air markets regularly looking for inspiration and picking up a few inexpensive items along the way.
+PINTEREST. But not just pinning pretty photos. Rather, really analyzing the common elements between images that I loved and refining what it was about each of those images that spoke to me. (I recommend this as the first step to anyone who is still trying to figure out what style speaks to them.)
+Finding the freedom to not just stick with one style. Rather, intentionally deciding upon the atmosphere that I wanted to create and curating an eclectic mix of items to together produce that specific vibe in a space.
+Pouring over a design book or two that gave me confidence in my own preferences.
+Learning the power of textures and simplicity.
+Never spending too much on a project, so I had the ability to change it later and wasn’t handicapped by the fear of blowing too much money.
So there you have it. Nothing fancy about my story, but it has given me the deep soul-stirring craving to create beauty out of minimalist, cozy decor. Do you know your style(s)? I always love hearing others’ creative stories about how they intentionally sought and/or stumbled into their decor preferences.
And let me reiterate: I can count on my fingers the number of times that I have bought new pieces of furniture. And my style doesn’t need lots of accessories, so there has been minimal new purchases of those as well. So please, if you don’t think you can decorate because you don’t have the budget, then have the courage to think beyond that. Sometimes the best design comes in clearing away much of what is there and replacing with just a few of your favorite already-owned items. Eventually, you will know your own style well-enough to know what items are worth splurging on for you, and what pieces of furniture and accessories you can salvage, make, re-use, and stage differently.
In the coming months, I will focus a bit more on the details of my current mid-century modern farmhouse style with tips and product recommendations, but for today, I want to leave you with a few tips for finding your own styles and getting over the fear of mixing styles to which you are drawn.
- First, start by searching Pinterest. And not just what pops up on your suggested Home feed (those suggestions are based on things that you may have shown interest in at some point in the past, but are NOT necessarily your current style). Search broad decor style terms such as Mid-Century Modern, Contemporary, Traditional, Rustic, Farmhouse, Tribal, Boho, and Coastal.
- Second, create a dream home board and pin images that you love. Don’t question yet why you love them. And don’t be afraid to pin images that you can’t imagine in your current space. You need the BIG picture first of what you like before you hone it.
- Third, take a break. Don’t do this all in one sitting. Go fold a load of laundry, drink a cup of coffee, deal with an afternoon of squabbling children, attend that work meeting. When you have fresh eyes, come back to your board.
- Fourth, begin to look closely at the images. What are the common threads? Do you see a similar wall color? A specific type of lighting? The same shape of furniture items? And make yourself really notice small details. The textures. Cool metals. Rustic wood finishes. Eclectic rugs. Warm colors. Cool colors. Bright colors. Lots of layers of texture. Minimal texture. Large art pieces. Fresh, empty walls. If you can’t find common threads, then go back to step 2 and pin more images. Repeat steps 3 and 4 as needed. (Sometimes it helps to start by just pinning images of a single room of the house…usually the living room…if you are overwhelmed by the assignment.)
- Fifth, write down a list of the common threads that you discovered. Go back to your Pinterest board and delete pins that don’t have those common threads. (You probably liked these images subconsciously for a different reason, but not because of the interior design elements.) Add more pins to your board by searching specific common threads that you identified that you like such as “modern lighting,” “farmhouse table,” “Turkish rug,” or “sea-blue walls.” Make sure you really DO like the common threads that you have identified.
- Sixth, evaluate your current space. What atmosphere do you want to create? Write down 3 to 5 “atmosphere” words that you want to use to help shape your decor choices. For instance, some of my top words include “cozy,” “hygge,” “kid-friendly,” “white,” “minimal,” and “bright.” Clearly, you won’t find large, dark pieces of furniture or warm/red/brown walls in my space.
- Seventh, develop an attitude of patience. You aren’t just going to go buy a room from “Rooms to Go.” You aren’t going to buy matching bedding from Target. You don’t need to “name” your style yet. Currently, I know that my style can be described as mid-century modern meets farmhouse (one of my favorite design articles about this style can be found by clicking HERE). But, until recently, I didn’t have a style name. Just a vibe. And that gave me the patience and inspiration to allow myself to slowly fall in love with my home decor choices.
I would love to meet you over on Instagram @laurenhasz for more regular design posts and stories and be able to answer questions over on the gram too. I DO hope today gives you a starting point if you are yearning to create a beautiful home, but currently feel hampered by budget or overwhelmed by the options at TJ Maxx. Remember, less is more when it comes to design, and you will love having the BIG PICTURE of your design preferences pinned down before you tackle a space.