Monday, March 26, 2012

How I Decorate Without Debt; The Wait

If you missed the first post in this series, just go here.

When I read blogs about decorating, and oh how I love to read them, I always imagine these projects taking a weekend or two. It seems so fast and fun from the pictures and it seems so easy to just do it, but that’s not reality most of the time. The hardest part of decorating is the unseen part—the wait.

OHHHHhhhh…that wait can be so very long.

This is the hardest and I believe, most important part of decorating. When this part gets skipped it’s sort of like Christmas in November. I’ve never had Christmas in November, but that’s what I imagine it would be like. As soon as a hint of presents are under the tree, the kids tear through them and leave nothing for Christmas morning—no anticipation, no magic, and no Santa. Just a bunch of stuff wrapped in boxes and a mess to clean up.

The wait is part of the magic. I know because the one time I didn’t have to wait, I made some really bad mistakes in decorating. 
See those rooster cafe curtains? Yep. Moment of impatience, right there! I thought they were cute and bought them on the spot. No thought, no plan. Just paid and put them up. Now they drive me nuts but I’m leaving them there for a while to remember what happens when I just randomly spend money.

Back to the point. There is magic in the wait. If you’ve had to wait, you know what I mean. You glance at the walls in your living room and notice how dingy they are. For weeks and sometimes months, you pass by them every single day. Some days you sit on the couch just staring at them. Some days you stand with your arms crossed, looking around at them and thinking of what color you might like them to be. As you’re passing by the paint in Wal-Mart you take five minutes to dream in front of the color swatches. Then one day you notice out of the corner of your eye that five gallon tub of discount paint. You secretly hope someone just hated that special color you’re leaning toward and it’s the one on that shelf. It’s purple. Too bad. Months and sometimes years go by. You start thinking about what you would do with the room if you could buy new couches. Would you really want the walls beige if you had different couches? Would that color blue look good with the couches you have now and the couches you want in the future?

Oh yes! Then the day comes that you weren’t even expecting. An acquaintance on facebook posts a picture of some couches that they are selling for way cheaper than retail. You look closer. You LOVE them! Oh, they weren’t what you imagined. No. They’re better than you imagined. And you have the money if you put off that one purchase you were considering but really don’t need.

With new couches in your room, the walls look even dingier. But now your plan is shifting. You thought you liked those blue-jean looking couches, but the white chic couches you just bought are exactly your style and you didn’t even know it. Now the options for wall color start becoming a little more in focus. You begin really noticing the wall colors in your favorite decorating magazines. You study them. You bookmark them. You start settling in on a few favorites.

As the months go by, your “luck” starts pouring in. You start to see things you didn’t before and deals seem to float your way. You find a beautiful homemade afghan at that thrift store—how could anyone throw that out—a friend remembers that you love Pier One and gives you that pillow you’ve been glancing at, and the picture frame you just couldn’t live without but forced yourself to…went on sell for 50% off.

Now, you’ve got a stash in your extra-large closet, but you really can’t even use most of it. You still don’t have money for paint. You’re almost at the end of your last bit of patience when it happens. You hear about this hole in the wall place that sells used and extra home goods. You doubt they’ll have your perfect color—after all you carry the two favorites in your wallet all the time now. You go in, looking all non-scallant about it all but you’re really nervous to even look in the direction of the huge mound of 5 gallon tubs that are dripping with color all over the sides. You finally make your way over there and for 20 minutes carefully look through each and every one. You dare to ask and even though they don’t speak good English, they understand the paint swatch that’s creased and worn.

To your delight, they pull from a different place in the store, two gallons of paint and set them in front of you. They are the perfect color. And, to top it off, they are $5 per gallon. You contain the squeal that’s about to escape your lips and pull out cash that was going to be used for your Easter dress. You can wear the same one as last year! You’re getting your ROOM!!!

It comes together so fast your head almost spins. Your sister comes to help you paint, your brother-in-law moves the couches for you, and you stay up until 2 am putting all the treasures into their new spots. It looks perfect. Better than perfect. It’s real. And it took you only two days.

Oh wait…no it didn’t. It took you a year and a half!

The Wait. That wait can be weeks, usually more like months, and sometimes even years…but it’s always worth it.

So, what do you do while you wait? The physically laborious part of decorating is like a sprint. It makes your heart race and it’s over almost as fast as it started. But the wait is like a mental marathon. It takes endurance and stamina. You don’t, however, have to twiddle your thumbs. You can do stuff while you wait.

Try some of these:

Research—lots and lots of research. There are a bazillion blogs and websites out there with information galore. There are several good magazines you could browse through. Collect your ideas, either physically in a notebook or in an internet favorites tab.

Dream and Stare at your space! It really does produce ideas if you’ve been researching.

De-Junk a lot. You want lots of space to work with and in. And the de-cluttering can make your space a whole lot better and that right there is worth it.

Clean. You can improve your space right now by cleaning it up and your decorating work will be easier when it gets here.

Test and measure. Measure furniture you might keep. Measure features in your room. Rearrange your furniture to see how it best fits. This effort won’t be wasted even if you intend on buying new furniture. You will be so familiar with the size of furniture and area that you’ll be far less likely to buy the wrong fit.
Did you miss #1 in my new series on How To Decorate Without Debt? You can read it here.

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