I was talking to someone with whom I have helped with several projects around their home. I tried to explain how good I felt when a client loved their new spaces. She told me that I helped her with something else that had been just as important.
For several years she and her husband had been working on their old house. They had done amazing things already but their energy and time available to work on existing projects had slowed almost to a stop due to their busy work lives.
One thing you have to understand is that the wife is a perfectionist. The work that they take on is beautifully done. No detail escapes them. It was also their belief that they should start on a project and finish it completely and perfectly before they took on another project. They disliked the way their dining room and entrance looked but did not want to start on any project in those areas until they could “do it right”.
Now this may sound like good advice at first. When I asked them how long they thought it would take to complete the second floor restoration of their 1913 house they answered “At this rate, probably years”. I suggested that was too long to live in a space that they didn’t like – that cosmetic changes would give them a lot of pleasure until they could start the process of scraping popcorn plaster from walls and replacing ill fitting picture windows. They agreed.
Over the next few days we repainted all the walls and ceilings. The colours went from an insipid peach colour to a lovely Arts and Crafts green highlighted by warm white millwork. (Stripping the millwork is part of the job of “doing it right” in the future).We put up new, inexpensive ready -made draperies that hid the windows and looked more elegant. We hung up several antique prints and paintings that had been languishing in storage. We moved furniture around and created new traffic paths. What made her especially happy was being able to take her mother’s china out of boxes and display it in her china cabinet. The result was a space that they love to be in and which makes it much easier to live in the house while they are working on the other projects. It took us only three days.
So, what does this mean to you? Make sure you have an area in your home that feels good to you while you are working elsewhere on a project. It’s ok to do “interim decorating”. I do it all the time. You don’t have to wait to, like my client, do it all or do nothing. We designed an interim kitchen when we moved into our 1912 house. This spring we will be finally revovating and adding on a small kitchen addition but our interim project gave us 5 years of functionality and pleasure.
Think about what you can do that won’t take a lot of money or time – and just do it. It will make it so much easier to deal with the other messes around you.