We turned the key for the first time in our house just over 7 weeks ago.  It is hard looking around and still seeing so many unfinished rooms and so many unfinished projects.  Of course, how could I possibly expect that the whole house should be gorgeous, sparkling and finished by now?  It’s completely unrealistic I do realise.  As I’ve always said, “Patience may be a virtue but waiting is a bitch.”

When I think it through and ignore my impulses, one thing comes to mind.  You can’t rush design decisions.  Have a vision and plan it out?  Yes.  Rush out and purchase things because this morning you saw something really lovely on Apartment Therapy and you must try it yourself this afternoon?  No. (I have certainly thought that.  I know you have too.  Oh, don’t try to deny it because I can tell when you are lying.)

Sure, it sounds fantastic to just blow your budget and purchase everything new but where is the fun or pride in that? And anyway, do I really want a show home? Do I really want it to look so brand spankingly new that people are afraid to sit down?

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I would be afraid to bring food anywhere near this room.
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To me, some of the most beautiful interiors appear to have been born over time, with items lovingly collected from here, there and everywhere, creating an eclectic look that’s entirely your own and not off the pages of the latest Next Catalogue or the Ikea showroom, or indeed, the pages of Laura Ashley.

This room says to me…
“Pull up a chair because we’re going to break bread 
and not worry about crumbs.”

I want to grow to love my home more and more as time goes on, adding and subtracting and editing each room as I go.

How much better is it to look around your home and know you have nursed something back to health, that you’ve been able to take an item with you from home to home and repurposed it and reused it again and again?

Of course, there are practicalities to all of this.  I have a budget.  And not a big one at that.  We simply can not afford to go out and buy everything new.  As a result of this, there are items I am tired of, that I have looked at in so many room settings that I have lost the perspective of whether or not they even work in a room anymore or whether I should retire them because they no longer fit my aesthetic.  So I have to ask myself, will a new paint job magic it better?  Can I use it somewhere I hadn’t thought of before?  Can it be covered or recovered?  Rediscovered in some new way?  And then when I do buy those lovely shiny new things and I do splurge a bit, the decisions are well thought out and researched so that I am confident it’s going to go to the best possible purchase and I’m getting the biggest bang for my buck.

And when you think about it, for those of us that are slightly design obsessed… are our houses ever really finished at all?  I have always constantly tweaked my living space as my moods and tastes change and as I’m influenced by what I see on blogs, on television, in magazines, in trends.

Let me share with you a case in point… I bought my dining table and chairs in 2007.  I had looked for one I liked within my budget for ages, had saved for it and got it on sale and I adored it when I purchased it.  It was one of the first really ADULT purchases I’d ever made in terms of proper “grown-up” furniture.

I still rather love the table.  It’s so substantial and weighty – it has that certain gravatas with good strong lines and not much fuss.

In fact, West Elm has one right now that’s almost identical to it.

West Elm Dining Set

But then I look at the West Elm site and think “Ooooh look at the bench that goes with it!”  Bear in mind, I’m in the UK, anyway, with no real access to West Elm furniture “but but but,” my brain starts to work in overdrive.  “I can find one!  I can build one out of scraps of wood!  I could find something similar on Ebay for cheap!”  You see where this is going…

Or I see upholstered chairs (I do like me a bit of tufting as you may know) and I simply think, “I WANT THAT NOW!!!”

Following this exchange, I sit myself down and give myself a good talking to.  I have high back leather chairs.  I should really count my blessings because initially I was very tempted to go with the cream leather chairs (soooo glad I didn’t give in to that temptation now. “Ban the magnolia!” battle cry etc etc)

Don’t hate. 
This is my dining room in it’s infancy & many changes await!
(shitty wood mantle and Ikea shelving courtesy of the previous owners; 
ladder, wires, Wii Fit Balance Board and spirit level courtesy of us).

To be fair to my dining chairs… I don’t actually hate them because you can (probably) sit on them through a 6 hour 15 course meal without your arse going numb.  However, they no longer make my heart sing.  I would love to spend stupid money and buy gorgeous tufted chairs but it’s simply not practical when there’s really nothing particularly wrong with these ones (except for the fact I like something else out there better).  And so I have to consider other alternatives.

I actually attempted to make slip covers for them last year out of old coffee bean bags but wow have you ever worked with jute?  It is soooo messy.

I only made the one as a sort of trial run on the idea.

Someday, I may complete that project, I might not.  I may possibly breathe new life into them with different (read that easier-to-work-with) fabric.

Anyway, my point is that I need to disregard my impulses.  I need to repurpose and reuse, to breath new life into pieces that I may be tired of now and to work with what I have.  I need to realise that building a room over time will be a more satisfying experience, both in terms of the final product and in terms of my finances.

And I need to stop being so damn impatient.

Image credits:  Formal dining room courtesy of Living Pod; Dining room with painted chairs courtesy of Greige Design; Upholstered Dining Room Chair images courtesy of decorpad.

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