The daily email from Pinterest has become a dangerous event for me. I don’t really remember signing up to it or telling them what I like but they seem to have got my number because there is often an image of a particularly fascinating interior that draws me in and before I know it, too much time has gone by while I snoop electronically through someone else’s home. For me it is a wonderful way to while away time but it doesn’t really help with getting on with the next thing on the to-do list.
As with fashion images, you have to remember that the lifestyle presented is not really real. There is something about converting a 3D space into a 2D image that changes things, that captures a moment in time, not to mention the clearing up, fresh flowers replacing old, high brow books replacing the books we are really reading and so on, that goes on before a photograph is actually taken. But, like the fashion model and the clothing they are in, the room is still beautiful and inspiring, whether it has been in hair and make-up or not.
When planning any changes to your home, I think finding images of rooms, or indeed actual rooms, that you love is incredibly helpful whether you have no idea what you like or whether you are already very clear about your own style. You may not copy anything at all from the image but remembering the vibe that you are trying to create in a home is much easier to do with an image than in words. Sometimes it is the mix of elements in a home that makes up the overall look, the individual pieces, colours, fabrics may not appeal to you on their own but working out what you love about it as a whole will help you to apply the look to your own home.
Sometimes you find an image that feels exactly what you want and it can feel a bit of a cheat to recreate what someone else has done – where does inspiration end and copying begin? – but I wouldn’t worry about it. It would be extraordinary if you wanted every element of a space that someone else had created and even if you did, homes have a way of evolving into your own look once you add personal possessions and the character of the house itself has an impact. It is question of whether the feel of what you want is being achieved rather than trying to slavishly recreate what you loved about the ideas you started with.
It is always a good idea to live with things for a while as often, what immediately hits you as being exactly what you want, can seem a poor idea once you have slept on it for a while. You may be utterly taken with a friend’s house, to the point of wanting the same for yourself, but ideas don’t always travel well. Once home, you might find that you love what your friend has, but it is better in your friend’s house rather than your own. It is quite ok to adore someone’s house without wishing to have any of it in your own home.
It is always a good idea to try things as much as possible before committing. If you get an idea about a fantastic paint colour, a style of fabric, a tiled floor or whatever it is that you decide you can’t live without, try a sample in the space to see what it looks like. You will quickly know whether you like it in your own home or if you need to adjust the elements or start from scratch, but even if you do love the sample when you get it home, live with it for a bit and make sure you still like it after the initial enthusiasm wears off.
Often the most inviting and intriguing homes are a bit of a mixture rather than a slavish adherence to one style or other. If you decide that you love a traditional or mid-century feel for example, adding something you love but you know doesn’t really ‘go’ can lead to a more imaginative and individual space. You don’t want a huge jumble of things but sometimes the unexpected can lift a room so if you are given/inherit/find something that you love (not something you feel you shouldn’t get rid of), don’t be afraid to incorporate it, even if it is quite outside of the look that you think you want.
Finally, and I am sure you probably don’t want to hear this, remember that homes are normally a work in progress. That is not to say that you constantly need to have tradespeople in your home but I don’t think you should ever aim to “finish” your home. There should always be room for improvement and change, even if you have already done a lot. All the decisions you make should be well thought through, good choices that you don’t want to get rid of but aiming for a final finished space at a certain point in time adds pressure to a process that will inevitably evolve as you see things you like, your tastes change or as life takes its course. Everything from major projects to minor tweaks should be viewed as part of an on-going process to create an environment that brings you happiness, that expresses who you are and that makes you want to be at home.