As I got older I swapped computer games for Interior Design magazines and I always enjoyed seeing who they featured and the different home tours. And again, I got to experience the different ways people lived. Fast forward to today, and I’m not alone in my love for Interior Design and seeing into people’s homes/inner worlds, in fact, there are whole Instagram accounts dedicated to just that.
The only thing I’ve noticed, is that a lot of them don’t offer a look into someone’s unique and personal inner world…they mostly just offer a curated design aesthetic. Often, instead of these accounts celebrating snapshots of what makes them unique and different and lived in, houses look staged, filters create an unattainable-in-real-life image, things are photoshopped out…all of the “life” gets taken out of it. In my opinion, the life of the person who lives in the home is what Interior Design is all about.
Before social media, you could argue that printed magazines still curated interiors, people did stage their homes a bit, and photoshop had already been around. But printed magazines back in the day would feature what was unique about a person’s home. The articles included snippets about their life and the photos were close up shots of items you might not find anywhere else. It seemed like the goal was to really show a sneak peek of their inner world, their interior lives.
“In my opinion, the life of the person who lives in the home is what Interior Design is all about.”
This isn’t to say that all people do this by any means. I follow a lot of amazing accounts with funny and insightful tidbits and shots of lived-in homes. Social Media has made it possible for more people to participate in sharing their love of interiors, share their homes, and connect with others who love the same thing.
I say this to point out something I’ve noticed while working as an Interior Stylist: the perfect curation of social media has made people afraid of design and afraid to make a mistake in their own homes. Oftentimes people I work with will use that language when I’m working with them, they’re afraid of messing it all up.
Their idea of a “mistake” usually means picking out something that doesn’t go together or doesn’t look cohesive. This can be a valid fear. I too have felt the overwhelm of choices when it comes to designing my own space, and I have definitely felt the fear of making a mistake.
While I’m doing my work, I don’t feel that same fear or overwhelm when I’m styling for someone else. Part of my job is listening to people, figuring out what makes them unique and delivering to them what they really want to see come to life. I think the reason I don’t feel the same fear when I’m working is that I can focus solely on what the client says they want, what they love, and how they want to feel when they’re in their home…and I can forget about any “design rules.”
When I first start styling and creating a design for a client, I take all their considerations into account, I don’t worry if the colors are on trend or if their space is fitting into an aesthetic, I just create. Throughout the process though, I do take other things into consideration and make choices following some key design principles, because another part of my job is to deliver to them a professional and well thought out design.
I want to ultimately be sure I create spaces people can live in and be happy in for a long time (unless they specifically say they want to change everything up each year which would be fun!). The goal is to create your home the way you want it and be true to what makes you happy. I sometimes find what people think they want isn’t actually what they want. They might follow someone on social media or watch a show and like the idea of this person’s aesthetic, but once they actually see it in their space it’s not them, it doesn’t feel right.
We’ve become so accustomed to Interior Design being something we look at, that we can forget it’s really something that needs to also be felt. Again, this isn’t to say we should throw all aesthetics out the window. Who doesn’t love to see a really well-styled Mid-Century Modern space with warm walnut wood and sleek lines or a Jungalow inspired rattan furniture beauty?
“We’ve become so accustomed to Interior Design being something we look at, that we can forget it’s really something that needs to also be felt.”
There’s nothing wrong with having a strong design aesthetic and being proud of it! What’s troubling is when we don’t allow ourselves the freedom to create, mix aesthetics, paint a wall a dark bold color or add a dainty curved chaise in front of it. Design is art and play, and it should be fun!
If you’re finding that you’ve taken the play of design out of the process, and you’re feeling stressed making choices for your home, I suggest one of my favorite activities to help bring back some fun and play – thrift shopping. I know buying used furniture isn’t for everyone, but even if you don’t plan on purchasing anything, go and get inspired.
Enjoy the aesthetic of a mustard yellow velvet sofa from the ’70s or a floral overstuffed armchair from the ’90s and remember at one point, that was in someone’s home and it hopefully made them very happy.
Then go home and make choices that will make you happy, not choices based off a design aesthetic (and then please snap a photo and share so inquiring minds can get an insight into you! :))