As a freshman in college, my randomly assigned roommate's mom was an interior designer. I remember moving in and watching them take hours to put up all of her adorable Ikea decor. She had a total color scheme, a desk with orange accessories to match, and a nifty little nook for snacks and a mini fridge. The only color I can remember on my side of the room was my hot pink, somewhat see-through desk lamp attached to a multi-purpose pencil holder. I can't say that I tried to make my side look any nicer, even though I really wanted to, or that I spent too much time in that dorm room.
Fast forward to a few summers after that and I was a camp counselor at my childhood camp. Before the shabbat dinners on Friday night, we would all meet to take pictures in our cutest outfits, of course. I walked towards my two closest friends who looked pretty miserable and asked them what was wrong. They started to laugh a bit until one of them said, "We were feeling really good about ourselves. I thought I did a great job on my mascara... And then we saw Lauren* walking down the hill and her dress and hair were literally blowing in the wind."
It's pretty incredible how easily we're stopped in our tracks when we see a shiny woman passing by, doing exactly what we wanted to do, only a thousand times "better". Whether it has to do with school, appearances, parenting, work, or our homes - it can feel like a punch in the gut. For the longest time, I'd love flipping through home design magazines with no intention of doing anything myself until I really knew what I was doing, which never came. But ladies, I implore you! Now is the time to do what you wanted to do, but won't because you are intimidated by flowing, trendy dresses and adorable orange staplers! Now is the time to do something fun, even if someone else would think it looks funny! Let us ask ourselves this question - Why not??!!
My own creative project...
If that fun thing happens to be what I've always wanted to do - to put a little personality into my living quarters - then I have a few tips for how I've tried to overcome my past dorm room trauma and embrace my own creativity, style, and love for design. I also want to share these idea shortcuts because I know what it's like to walk around Target for two hours with nothing but a few tea lights to show for it. Here are some small, budget-friendly things to look out for that can help brighten up your space, and perhaps provide a bit of therapy as well.
1. Inexpensive "Vases" for Flowers and House Plants
Rather than just looking in the vases aisle at a store, you can look around any other section or around your house for a vessel that will match your style. I found the white, ceramic container pictured above for $3 in the clearance center at Home Goods and have no idea what it's original purpose was. Inexpensive, long lasting flowers are great for this. Small house plants are also a much longer-lasting way to bring life to a corner of your home.
2. Decorative Baskets for Everyday Objects
Rather than continue buying cheaper plastic containers to store things, I decided to get a few $7 to $10 baskets for things that I use constantly. I love taking out my girls' toys and seeing these cute little elephants every time from Home Goods. The container above for foil pans is from The Container Store.
3. Personalized Mugs
We are HUGE coffee drinkers in my home and I like leaving these two mugs out that we only use together a few times a week. It adds a bit of character and a personal touch to the kitchen.
4. One "Pop of Color" or Interesting Throw Pillow
I find throw pillows really hard to find. Instead of trying to get a perfectly coordinated line of interesting throw pillows (which gets very expensive very quickly), I just went for finding one to add to the simple pillows we already had in order to make the couch pop a bit. (Here's another option, In general, onekingslane.com has pillows starting at $15)
5. Kitchen Towels You Actually Like
I don't think I gave much thought to our first set of kitchen towels. The second time around, I took a second to think of the color and style and now feel like it makes a big difference. These ones were on sale at Home Goods.
6. Books in Odd Places
Books are great to have on the shelf, but they become even more interesting when you put them in different places around the house. The books above are stacked inside the corner of our living room window. You can put cookbooks on your kitchen counter, put your favorite novels on a dresser with a picture frame or some flowers, or stack them on a side table with an accessory on top (I actually have a teapot sitting on one stack of cookbooks...)
What small things do you do around the house to make your home feel cozier and reflect who you are? I would love to know and maybe use the idea myself!
*Name was changed.