It is funny, there are a few common phrases related to home that include the word settle.  You can settle in.  You can settle down.  But I don’t think you should ever settle when it comes to the things that go in your home.

Am I Settling?

I think all decisions big and small in life should be weighed against this question…am I settling?  Sure, on trivial things like where to go for lunch, settling might be okay.  For big things like who to marry or which house to buy, settling is an obvious no-no.  But there is a lot of grey area between those two extremes.  One key area where I think too many people settle is when it comes to how they decorate and furnish their home.

In my first two homes I settled a lot.  In our last town home we painted the walls in the main living areas tan.  The color was actually called “broomstick”…seriously that should have warned us.  We picked a color we thought was mainstream and neutral.  We knew pretty quickly it wasn’t us, but visitors complimented on the color and we labored for days to paint all those walls.  So we settled.  We accepted a color we disliked.  Finally, after a year on the market trying to sell the home, we worked up the courage to repaint every wall in a beautiful light grey.  Immediately the space transformed, the color fit us, and we sold the home quickly after with multiple offers.  As soon as we stopped settling and started repainting, we thought to ourselves…we should have done this sooner!

Define Your Style, Accept the Journey

Settling has nothing to do with sticking to a budget or a timeline.  We all have to make choices that match our budget and time, but within those constraints you don’t have to settle.  Settling is accepting the norm, it’s doing what your neighbors do, it is buying what is on the shelf at your local big box store.  Settling is the easy way out.  It’s letting someone else define your style for you.

Style is individual and unique.  There is no right or wrong, as long as you stay true to your unique style.  My favorite colors to decorate with are teal, lime, turquoise, and yellow.  My palette is unique (see my whole house color scheme and my accent color palette).  Those colors are not readily available from mass retailers.  I have to look a bit harder to find the right pieces, to get the right color.  Sometimes I just have to make it myself.  But I don’t ever settle.  Furnishing and decorating a home doesn’t have to be a race.  To truly embrace and develop your own style in your home will be a journey.

In our current home, we went without chairs in our family room for nearly two years.  Having only a couch limited our seating when we had company over.  We resorted on occasion to sitting on the floor or dragging the yellow chairs in from the office (as seen in some semi-before shots of the family room).  We just recently found the right chairs, but they have the wrong fabric.  See it is a journey.  It took us nearly two years to find the chairs and they are not perfect yet.  The journey continues.  We could have settled a long time ago on another pair of chairs, but we would never have been satisfied with them.  Making a home takes patience.

Don’t Do What Your Neighbors Do

Style is unique and therefore your home should be original.  Every house in our neighborhood is painted the same Cafe Latte color on the interior (seen in before shots of our dining room and kitchen).  Okay, I have not seen inside every house, but while trick-or-treating I did notice that color in every house we went to!  It is fine for the people that love that color, but my guess is it would not have been the first choice of everyone in the neighborhood.  I am sure the builder got a bulk discount on paint in that color and used it in every house.

The first thing we did when we moved in was start painting.  We learned our lesson on settling when it comes to color.  Color is such a powerful force in our lives.  It can truly affect your mood.  We are still in the process of repainting every inch of this house, but when we have guests over we get so many compliments on the colors.  I think the biggest reason is because they are unique.  They make our house different and they represent us.  If we had settled with Cafe Latte, we would have constantly been battling to get all of our other furnishings to fit in.  The color would have thrown off our whole style.

Don’t Let Someone Else Define Your Style

Don’t settle for what’s on the shelf.  I used to do this a lot.  With no plan in mind, I would go to the store and confine myself to the options before me.  For a long time what was available locally in mass retail stores defined my style.  Just because the store only sells rugs in shades of beige, green, red, and brown, that does not mean you have to limit your color scheme.  Look for another store that sells rugs and keep looking until you find one that you love.  Don’t just settle for what is readily available, especially on the big ticket items.  Take the time to search.  If the perfect piece is out of your price range, save up.  Just don’t settle for what’s on the shelf, unless you love it.

How To Avoid Settling

Settling is giving up, not settling means:

  • Look beyond the easy options that don’t meet your needs or wants.  You may have to shop more stores, hold out for sales on pieces you truly love, and be patient.
  • Do a lot of window shopping or online browsing to find stores that fit your style.  For the select stores you love, sign up for their email lists to stay current on new items and sales.  Also, don’t forget Etsy, Craig’s List, and your local thrift and consignment shops.
  • DIY!  When I can’t buy the piece you want, it costs too much, or comes in the wrong color, then I have to be willing to go the do-it-yourself route to get the look I am after.
  • Take it slow on the big pieces.  I would rather have a sparsely furnished house with great pieces, then a fully furnished house with a bunch of stuff I don’t like.  When we were unable to sell our town home, we looked at the silver lining…the smaller house payment allowed us to stock up on great furniture, even when it didn’t really fit in the town home.  We made the investment in pieces we knew we’d love for years to come, which made furnishing our current home easier.
  • Stock up.  This may seem to contradict the previous bullet, but I am always ready to stock up when I find things I love.  The colors I gravitate towards tend to get popular in stores in the springtime.  If I see pieces I love in my style and my favorite colors, I get them even if I don’t know where I will use them.  Then I have a bit of a stash when I am working on a project.  This tip is especially applicable to small decor items, party supplies, and fabric.
  • Change it, don’t work around it.  You can work around a space being small or lacking light, but don’t work around things you hate that you have the ability to change.  Changing color and decor can make a big impact with little money and time. Change with your style.  Your style will evolve…you and your home should evolve with it.  Would you believe me if I told you my bachelorette style was still modern, but more modern country?  It evolved when my husband and I started finding our combined style.

Hold Out, Don’t Settle

Right now I am holding out for the right fabric for the new living room chairs, the right light fixture for the master bedroom, and the right outdoor rug for the deck.  These are the things I would rather live without for now, then settle.  What are you holding out for in your home?

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10 Responses to Don’t Settle

  1. LAWallner says:

    Amen, Jackie. Amen!

    This has been my mantra since moving into my new builders-grade home two years ago, and though it has been a slow process, I refuse to bring anything into my home I don’t adore. And do you know what? I *love* my home because of it. Blank spaces and all.

    Thanks for this post!

    • Jackie says:

      That is so awesome. You gotta love those blank spaces…they are room for opportunity, room to define your style. In due time they will be filled up with things you love!

  2. Cheryl says:

    I am in a new home and am slowly making it my own. I like black, caramel, creamy white, leopard print, a touch of vintage and pops of green and brass. I have a vision of my inside entryway that has not quite been realized. On our small craftsman style porch I have a black wrought iron chair with a cushion and a window box with three perfect succulents and river rocks (very zen). Every time I enter the house I am struck by it…then I open the door. The hardwood floor is lovely but covered by a mat I don’t like. I want a leopard print carpet but cannot find just the right shading…lol. I’m picky. I also want a small plant on a stand. In my basement entryway, I have a vintage phone table/chair waiting for a coat of paint and a crocheted lampshade, and a spinning wheel. I have to remind myself to enjoy the process, take my time and find pieces I LOVE. Love your blog. Thanks for sharing. If you have the time, you can take a look at my aesthetic in my craft room. http://www.craftcloset.blogspot.com/2012/02/my-craft-room.html . The most important piece was the vintage accordion sewing box that I spent months scouring eBay etc. for. My husby built the bookcase for me and the desk is my old playroom table with the legs painted and I LOVE every inch of the room. I used to have robins egg blue walls with red/pink accents in my old craft room…very trendy at the time. But I realized it wasn’t me. Now I can add pops of ANY color according to my mood. Don’t settle…that may be my new mantra. :-)

    • Jackie says:

      Cheryl, your craft room looks wonderful. Your try style is what my bachelorette style was. I still have the oak table with black legs in my craft room to prove it. I adored that table as my first dining table, but when I had to merge styles with my husband we went a different direction. I plan to paint the table to work better with my current decor.

      I really love how you have the table extending out from the bookshelf. It looks more desk-like, as if the table has a hutch! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for such a well-written post Jackie. As I get older I find that I’m not settling in the way I used to (in all areas of my life). I’ve also become intentional about what I buy for my home for the very reason you spoke about. I don’t want to surround myself with a bunch of junk just because it’s popular. I want to walk into my room and feel good about everything that’s in the space. It’s a slow process like you said, but worth it.

  4. jaj says:

    I am so glad I read this today. Your post is right on time for me. I have a housewarming coming up and I’m so pressed to have seating for people, but now that I’ve ready your post, nope! I’m not rushing myself into buying living and dining room chairs I don’t like for my new home. I visit your blog often but never comment. Thanks for writing this.

    • Jackie says:

      Jaj, thanks for commenting! A housewarming is a huge catalyst for people to rush and furnish the whole place. Just remember the people coming to your housewarming are supporting you and your new home. It doesn’t matter if they have to eat of paper plates and sit on folding chairs. Speaking of folding chairs, there are some really nice ones out now, so if you are going to rush into something consider a folding table and a set of chairs. They will always come in handy for future parties and it is okay to settle on those occasional use items! Congrats on your new home!

  5. Krikit says:

    I’ve waited, am still waiting, and will continue to wait until I can find the couch that is “me.” I’m 57. I hope it’s soon. My butt hurts. ~;0)

  6. Cheryl Balmas says:

    Where was this article all my married life? (This is not a comment about my wonderful husband!). I lived in a condo for 4 years, a house for 6 years and my present house for 20 years. That’s 30 years of settling! I am so anxious to fill the room, change out an ugly chair that doesn’t match, get something done that this, along with my impulsive shopping, has = almost a lifetime of settling. As I look around my home now I see so many things I would have done differently if only I had waited for exactly what I wanted. Case in point. I was in such a hurry to turn my daughter’s bedroom into my home office that I purchased furniture in a big hurry only to find that working upstairs was not working for me and ultimately moving my home office back down to the main floor den where it belonged. However, the furniture did not match my den. I left the furniture up in the bedroom for 2 years unused. Such a shame. I finally persuaded my husband to move the big heavy cumbersome office set to the den where I now use it, but begrudgingly. You see the furniture is modern and deep chocolate brown. Looked great in my daughter’s made over chocolate brown modern room. But its not my style for the den! I ‘heart’ a big white desk or a long countertop with cabinets above and below as I like closed storage. I also want a white leather chair and all white desk top accessories. Accent colors in this dream office are pops of teal and yellow. If I go with the desk vs the built in’s I would then add a white Expedit shelving unit on casters to complete the look. But that’s not what I have. I have no issue with using what I have to save $$ and am in no position to buy new furniture. I can’t really paint what I have because it is just to big and cumbersome to even consider that and it still wouldn’t be the style I’m going for. I am going to put it up for sale on Craig’s list eventually and ‘hold out’ for what I really want. But I have to say, each and every room is half what I want and half what I settle for because I was too impatient. Also, instead of saving the money for what I really wanted, I frittered it away on stuff I settled for. Which is why I am also following your Home Shopping Hiatus!

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