This week I’ve been working on installing the rest of the trim in the dining room and entryway (an incredibly frustrating experience that I’ll tell you about later) and also working on my ceiling light that I’m making for the music room. So yesterday as I was working, my mind was naturally gravitating towards my decorating plan for the front rooms, and the changes I’m probably going to make to the plan based on the new wall color I’ve selected. And as I often do when I’ve changed my plan for the second, third, fourth…tenth…time, I fell into the trap of thinking, “My gosh, Kristi, you used to work as an interior decorator! This should be so much easier for you to just make a decision!”
Then I have to remind myself that working as an interior decorator for clients, and DIYing my way through my own home remodel, are two completely different things. In fact, for me, there’s very little resemblance between the two.
My life as an interior decorator
I really enjoyed working as an interior decorator for clients for the most part, and compared to what I do now, it was so incredibly easy. Everything was fairly cut and dried. While the designs were unique to each client, the process was pretty formulaic.
I’d meet with the client for the first time, and hear their wants and needs regarding their room(s). They’d tell me about the styles and colors they want, and if they were really prepared, they’d have stacks of pictures and magazine pages (this was before Pinterest 🙂 ) to show me what they had in mind for their house. I’d take measurements of the rooms and photograph the rooms, and then I’d take all of that info back to my office and come up with a cohesive design plan based on all of the information I had just gathered.
My office was filled with hundreds of books filled with fabric swatches from all of the major fabric houses — Kravet, Fabricut, Schumacher, Robert Allen, and so many more. I had trade accounts with furniture stores, home decor stores, fabric houses, flooring stores, paint stores, wallpaper vendors, both local and national. Sitting at my work table in my office, with the information I had gathered from my client and virtually no outside input, and surrounded with thousands of fabric samples, paint swatches, product catalogs, wallpaper samples, etc., I could put a decorating plan together very quickly.
But here’s the main reason it was so easy for me when dealing with someone else’s house — I had absolutely zero emotional attachment to their house whatsoever. For me, it was about coming up with a beautiful and cohesive design plan based on the colors and style that they wanted. That was it. When you take the emotion out of it, and give yourself a set amount of time to get it done, that’s a pretty simple task.
Once I had the decorating plan put together, I’d present it to my client. The plan might have required a few tweaks here and there, and generally when it came to things like large furniture purchases or wallpaper selections, I’d present three or four options that I thought would work, and let them make the final decision. But once they signed off on the plan, the main part of my work was pretty much finished. From there on out, I worked in more of a supervisory role as the drapery workrooms, painters, wallpaper installers, and all of the other trades implemented the plan. At times, I’d do some of the work myself (a special paint treatment on a wall, or making the draperies, or upholstering the dining chairs, etc.) but the decorating decisions had already been made. It was just a matter of getting the work done. When all of the main stuff was done, I’d do some shopping to accessorize the room, and then it was finished.
See what I mean? Formulaic. Easy. Non-emotional. A night a day difference from my life now. 🙂
My life as a DIYer (and a DIY blogger)
DIYing the remodel of my own house has virtually no similarities at all to any client work I ever did. I mean, I still pick paint colors and fabrics, and I still hope to end up with a room that’s decorated in a beautiful and cohesive manner, but the process is nothing like anything I ever did for a client.
For starters, I never personally did this to a client’s house…
Remember when my kitchen looked like that?
Yep, that was my hallway bathroom about 10 months ago.
The sheer scope of the projects I’m doing at my own house is FAR, far beyond anything I’ve ever done before, much less for a client. If clients needed a bathroom or kitchen remodeled, that was hired out to the pros, and I just checked in periodically to see that everything was going according to the design plan. But I certainly wasn’t picking up tools and tearing out rooms to the studs. And at most, full-scale remodels took around three months.
And talk about an emotional investment! I’ve poured my heart into this house, as well as my literal blood, sweat and tears. This house is nothing if not an emotional investment for me, and I want it done right. That kind of pressure that I put on myself often makes it so difficult for me to make final decisions. I’m like a person who can’t commit to a relationship because I’m continually thinking, “But what else is out there that I might be missing? What if something better comes along tomorrow, and I’ve already ruined my chances at at that better thing by committing to this thing today?” 😀
There’s also the time factor. My kitchen remodel, from start to finish, took me seven months. MONTHS. That was with me doing almost everything by myself, with my own two hands. From that perspective, I don’t think that seven months is unreasonable at all. But do you realize how many “better ideas” one can come across in a period of seven months?! 🙂 I can get on Pinterest right now, and within 30 minutes, I can find at least 10 “better ideas” for my dining room window treatments, or 5 “better ideas” for a dining table design. Now multiply that times seven months. My bathroom remodel also took seven months from start to finish. Sooo much inspiration can be found in seven months!
How many times did I change my plan for the music room? And how many times have I now changed my plans for the living room-turned-dining room and entryway? I’ve lost count, and I’m sure you have, too! 🙂 But this room has been a work in progress for nine months so far. It was last April that it looked like this…
In nine months, I can’t even imagine how many hours I’ve spent on Houzz and Pinterest looking for ideas. But in addition to that, I’ve gotten thousands upon thousands of comments from blog readers with various suggestions as well! Last year, my blog posts averaged 172 comments each (on the blog and on the posts on Facebook for each blog post). That’s over 32,000 comments last year, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that at least 30% of those were readers offering suggestions.
I’ve got ideas coming at me from all directions on a daily basis, and I love it. If I could make a full-time job out of searching for ideas on Houzz and Pinterest, and cataloging ideas from readers, I’d do it in a heartbeat. 😀 I LOVE creative inspiration. The more the better. My mind never turns off, and while that might seem exhausting to others (especially the not-so-creative, “just get it done” types), I thrive on it. But with the sheer amount of creative inspiration that’s readily available to us now literally at the tips of our fingers, combined with the many months that it takes me to actually get my rooms finished, along with the huge emotional investment that I have in my own house…
Yep, I may come up with 120 decorating plans for my room by the time I land on the one that I’ll actually stick with. And in the nine or ten or twelve months it takes for me to rip a room down to the studs and then get it to the point where it’s actually ready for the fun decorating stuff, I’ve probably been exposed to literally thousands of “bigger and better” options that have left my original plan in the drywall dust, never to be seen again.
It’s been two years so far that I’ve been working on this house, and I’m finally learning to cut myself some slack, and not be embarrassed when I come here and say, “Well, I’ve changed my mind again.” 🙂 For others, this is just a house that just needs to be finished, just like I used to view my clients’ homes. For me, this is my home, my heart, and my emotional investment. It’s my blood, my sweat, and my tears. In my own home, I’m not an interior decorator.