Know what you love (and what you can live with)

Throughout the last few years of poring over design magazines, books and blogs, using Pinterest, and slowly decorating my own little home, one of the most important things I have learned is to always keep in mind what I love and what works for me.

It’s a simple concept. But it’s really helped me figure out what I love enough to live with. When you read as many books and magazines and blog posts as I do, sometimes the decorating ideas can get overwhelming. I see lots of things that I like. I like decorating with neutrals and bright colors. I like stripes, plaids, and the occasional floral. I like rooms that are bright and breezy, and I like rooms that are dark and cozy. I like painted wood and natural wood tones. I like rugs. I like hardwood floors. I like artwork of all kinds. And don’t even talk about colors. I pretty much love all colors.

But when I’m actually trying to decide what is right for my space ……. liking everything becomes a problem. Because there’s no way to make the room both bright and breezy AND dark and moody at the same time. I can’t have every color and texture that I appreciate in my small house. A lot of looks or ideas, as cool as they are, wouldn’t work for me and wouldn’t work in my living space. And just because I like something doesn’t mean I want to live with it for the next who-knows-how-many years.

So now, when I see pictures of rooms that I love, I try to analyze them just a bit in order to see not only what I love about them, but also what I wouldn’t want to live with. Doing this helps me find MY style in all the different pictures I see. It keeps me from getting distracted by looks that I love but that ultimately won’t work for me. Because the last thing I want after spending a lot of time and money is a room full of things I’m really not all that crazy about.

To illustrate my point, I’m going to go through a bunch of pictures I found online (mostly via Pinterest). I’m sticking with all bedrooms, to keep it simple (and also because I’m mostly working on bedroom decor right now).

Let’s start out with the presupposition that, for me, my bedroom is mainly for sleeping and getting dressed (so I need clothes storage). I don’t have a home office in there. I’m a light sleeper and I need dark, cocoon-like surroundings to help me fall asleep and stay asleep. For me it’s important that my bedroom feel very cozy and a little bit luxe.

Exhibit A:

Analysis: I’m looking at this picture and it’s so bright and fun and energizing. I love it. BUT …. it’s so bright. I would never sleep in here. So what I take away from this picture is — I need something darker, but maybe I could incorporate some bright pops of color. That yellow is awesome.

Exhibit B:
Red Online

Analysis: I LOVE the glamorous touches like that amazing gilt-framed floor mirror and the upholstered headboard. In fact, I love floor mirrors and upholstered headboards so much I know I’m going to include them in my own room. This pic is great inspiration for that. BUT … this room is not what I would call “cozy.” Maintaining that pristine whiteness would be stressful. And I’d probably have trouble sleeping past sunrise!

Exhibit C:

Analysis: This is very nice, very calming and welcoming. It has a good cozy vibe to it. And I know that I like things to be symmetrical, so I appreciate the matching lamps and neatly arranged artwork on the wall. I know I need symmetry in my bedroom. The only thing I don’t really like is how blue this room is; that shade of blue in particular is not one of my faves right now. But colors can be changed. All in all, pretty nice.

Exhibit D:

Analysis: Wow, this room is amazing!! By now you can tell I love upholstered headboards. And as I mentioned earlier, I want my bedroom to be kind of luxurious/glamorous, which this one totally IS. On top of that it has a wonderful antiquey feeling. I love it, and hey, even though I wasn’t crazy about the pale blue in the last one, I love this dark moody blue used here. Only thing I don’t like is the lack of nightstand. Where would I put all my STUFF? So, note to self, design glamorous bedroom like this one, but don’t forget the nightstands.

Exhibit E:

Analysis: OK, so obviously my bedroom isn’t in a perfectly-ruined French building with 30-foot ceilings or whatever those are. So even though that aspect of this room isn’t realistic for my own small, boring apartment, I can still see some things that are drawing me to the room. Again we have an upholstered headboard. Again that deep, moody blue. Again lots of texture in the bedding, a cozy glam feeling, and AGAIN NO NIGHTSTANDS! What is up with this? I really have to have nightstands.

Exhibit F:

Analysis: This is a change from all the dark, moody rooms. Obviously the room has great architecture that mine doesn’t have — fireplace, high ceilings, etc. But even without all of that, I am still loving the hits of bright, saturated green throughout the room. I really love color and even though my bedroom needs to be dark-ish, I know I still need to include some bright colors in modest doses … simply because it makes me happy and adds life to the room.

Exhibit G:
Source unknown (does anyone know?)

Analysis: This room brings together some of my favorite bedroom design elements. Upholstered headboard: check. Symmetry (found in bedside tables, lamps & artwork): check. Luxurious feeling: check. Coziness: check. Also, the room pictured is quite small, like mine … it’s good to be realistic. :-) I like the sitting area at the end of the bed too. The only thing I really don’t like is the capiz chandelier. I feel decidedly ehh about capiz chandeliers.


So, this is what I’m thinking when I look at inspiration pics for home design. There are so many good ideas, but only some of them are the right ideas for you. That’s been an important thing for me to learn — otherwise I’m trying to create a room out of a lot of different elements that just don’t go together, and wasting a lot of resources on pieces that I won’t love forever or that won’t work for me.

I think being in touch with myself, my home and my needs is seriously important when decorating. What makes me happy? What works for me and my husband? What works in the rooms we have? What do we need to use the space for?

Hopefully the result will be rooms that I love to spend time in and that do everything I need them to do. Like our bedroom. While it’s nothing amazing, it’s looking more and more like “me.” All I need now is that upholstered headboard. :-)


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