September 28, 2015

Creative Fixes

WARNING: Seriously wordy design thoughts post without very many pictures.  (Mom, you’ll want to skip this one! 😉

As a kid, I loved to draw, but sadly, I was never very good at it.  Not terrible, but just not great.  And I’m still that way.  The same goes with singing and dancing, cooking, and I’m sure a bunch of other things.  But I’ve always been imaginative and have always had this urge to create, whether I was good at it or not.  I love to learn about different art forms and I remember grade school art classes and projects more vividly than any others.  

{Drawing for my line of textiles is really hard for me.  My tongue is usually sticking out in concentration and what comes out isn’t always what’s in my head…  I’m learning to only do the patterns I’m capable of which means leaving some of the ones in my head out for now.}

So when I started decorating, I realized it was a way of creating I could be good at.  As much as I wanted to sing, paint, draw, etc., I wasn’t born with those innate talents.  I’m not trying to get into what can be taught and what can’t or what’s in the eye of the beholder and all of that, but I’ve seen gifted artists in kindergarten (I’m talking to YOU, Erin Pedati!!) and I definitely wasn’t one of them.  It didn’t stop me from drawing ALL THE TIME (because I did) but I never saw it as any sort of viable career option.  In my mind I’d see how I wanted it to look and it just wouldn’t come out that way.  (Same with Britney’s moves 😉  So when I started decorating first apartments, I realized that decorating was giving me that awesome feeling I craved… you know, a house being a (sort of) blank canvas and all that.  I wasn’t very good, but the difference between decorating and drawing was that I could imagine perfectly what something would look like in my mind’s eye and when I physically put a plan into action, it looked exactly as I imagined it would.  It wasn’t a completely innate talent you had to be born with.  

I started educating myself and honing my eye- a never-ending process- and then eventually started doing it for a living.  So now, I imagine, working on homes for clients is very much like an artist working on a commission, whereas decorating my own place, is more like an artist painting exactly what he/she wants to paint.  I love having other people’s experiences, tastes, and needs as a starting point to shape my designs, because then everything isn’t the same and I get to do things I wouldn’t normally do for myself.  But I also love working on projects with no style parameters- other than my own- like my own home or something I do as a favor for a close family member.  (When my family members truly work with me – vs. asking for advice/guidance here and there- it’s like making a deal with the devil because I say I’ll help but they have to give me the reigns.  Sounds crazy controlling (and it is) but I just simply can’t give up all the time and energy into something that I’m not going to be proud of in the end and that isn’t fun for me.   I was thinking about it this weekend, and realized that I really need both types of projects to feel creatively satisfied and to grow.  I couldn’t just do “Lauren” in every house because it would get old, but I couldn’t just never do me either, because it would be a bit stifling.  As I’ve been in business longer, clients have finally started to come to me to get my look, which is so exciting, and really allows me to do my thing with more freedom.

{My dining room, two houses ago… Once I felt I had it “right” nothing changed except the table setting.  I could never part with the blown up Albrecht Durer horse/knight/lady print on the wall and think I’ve got a spot for it in the new house!!}

When I first took an interest in decorating all of those years ago, I’d rearrange things all the time- like furniture, art, pillow fabrics to give my room a whole new look-  but around two houses ago, I stopped doing that.  Moving all of the living room furniture by myself and taking a spin through the thrift store for a couple of new things used to be a dream day for me…  But I’m not sure if it was because I’d put more thought into how everything should be arranged and came to feel that there was in fact a “best” way, but I generally began to leave my things alone once I placed them and they felt right, and would really only accessorize with fresh flowers or greenery or seasonal throws.  Basically, my outlet was no longer rearranging/ reaccessorizing because I just didn’t have the urge (or see a reason to keep shopping.)  And, maybe it’s because it’s what I do almost every day, it felt A-mazing to feel “done” and to not need to decorate at home.   I started spending a lot of time in the garden and in the kitchen.  Again, two things I love to do but am in no way awesome at… just sort of passionate about.  But they were creative outlets that got me excited and gave me that little fix I’m always craving.  

{Our previous house}

And now that I’m back to decorating my own place again, I’m going back to where I started, to decorating our personal home as an outlet.  But I left our last house before I was over it and so it’s a little different this time.  (I keep reminding myself that it’s always best to leave the party while you’re still having fun!!)  I’ve moved from a home that I felt was so “me,” that felt so “done,” and I was having so much fun just living in it…  into an incredibly practical house that will require a lot of time, effort, & money to turn it into something really special for our family, something that’s still “us.”  We moved from a point of satisfaction and contentment to another major project.  And we’re not people who can feel really satisfied just being “meh” about our house.   It’s truly our passion; we’ve built a business around it.

 It’s so funny going back to read the introduction to my book, which is titled “On Finding Love” about finding our last house, above.  At the time I wrote it, I thought we’d be there for a good long while and I was crazy about it, but it’s interesting, that even then I concluded we only loved the house in so much as a person can love a “thing”, but that what we really loved that was that it was an amazing backdrop for our family and the life we love.  And so now, as I get moving in the design of this next house and miss how “us” our old house felt, I need to remind myself of that…  That what I’m missing right now is not the structure of the house itself but what we created there…  the way of life we made for ourselves: the connection to nature, the functional aspects like the kitchen we loved to cook in, the numerous spots to snuggle up, read, and watch movies together, the way the house entertained, the freshness and airiness the house had and how coming home instantly made me feel good.  I’m going to try to make all of that here all over again in a way that feels new and exciting to me.  And it is creatively satisfying, but because even though this opportunity for a creative “fix” is coming at a time when I wasn’t craving one, I’m embracing it by taking things slowly in order to do it well and enjoy it.  We literally live in a construction zone right now, so we’re moving quickly on the kitchen renovation and trim work, but as far as the decorating goes, I’m seeing it as more of a mosey.  I don’t want to wish it away. 

{A dream house of mine… A loft in Barcelona featured in Elle Decor}

Now that I’m back in that “new house” phase again, I guess I’m back to that initial decorating stage which will entail a LOT of tweaking.  (This weekend I SERIOUSLY SCORED at a thrift shop & definitely need to share with you!!)  It’s also made me realize why my blog is sort of always changing…  I write about what I’m excited about in whatever phase I’m in.  I don’t have a set number of posts to go out a week and just write what I’m feeling.  When I’m decorating and tweaking, I’ll share that.  When I’m out of that phase, I start talking food or table settings and people probably get bored by the “life” aspect.  When there’s a lot going on but I can’t share it (like my last house that I kept under wraps so that I could get it published) there’s really not much I can say, so I don’t write much.  

If you read this blog, there’s a good chance you’re passionate about houses too, and in some way decorating (or reading about it) must also be a creative fix of sorts for you too, but this whole thing made me wonder about what point in your decorating you all are at and what your creative fixes are?  Are you a decorator or designer?  Have you completed your home and just enjoy reading about design or are you at the stages where rearranging and re-imagining a room with accents is fun?  I realized that I wrote my book with the ideal of the long-haul at the forefront…  I decorate homes for people, with the goal being fairly permanent results in which people can then go about life in without much contemplating the decorating (other than enjoying it).  Those “permanent” results usually take years to achieve and so, to me, good decorating is about making all of those little steps you take along the way count.  Not back-tracking (unless you want to and that’s your creative fix) and being thoughtful and observant and getting it right and not having to do things twice.  Being patient if that’s what’s needed to do it the right way.  So, where are you at in your decorating?  Is decorating a fix for you and something you like to constantly tweak or do you like to get it right and move on?  I think I’m in the “move on” category, but probably because I get to work on my clients’ homes and that satisfies me, and also because I’d rather garden & eat in my spare time.  

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