Every time we move (and, as you know, we move a lot), we find ourselves in the following quandary: We know that our living situation is temporary, but don't want our living space to reflect that. Bare walls, minimal furnishings, and empty shelves do not amount to what I'd consider "homey". And, we are wherever we are for long enough for that to matter. In other words, I don't mind that we are living in a permanent state of temporary. But I don't want to live permanently in what looks temporary.
Unfortunately, as any HGTV viewer would know, decorating a home is not cheap. Nor is it entirely practical when you will be leaving most of your decor purchases behind, as was the case for us when we moved home from Italy. So, the question is: how much is reasonable to budget for personalizing/decorating/homifying your space if you are likely going to have to repeat the process one hockey season later?
It could be argued that our being stateside as opposed to overseas has two benefits. First, the pressure to be minimalist is slightly offset by the fact, at the end of this season, we will be driving home with a U-Haul trailer hitched behind us. Second, there is a much greater availability of bargains than we had overseas. (Marshalls, Michaels, coupons, and Craigslist.) In other words, go to town, Sarah! Let loose your inner wannabe interior decorator!
From another, probably more rational standpoint, being stateside should not influence my buying decisions. It’s simply not realistic for us accumulate massive amounts of home goods. Especially at the rate we are acquiring baby items, space to get everything home is likely to be an issue regardless of the UHaul. Plus, I'd prefer to purchase only things that we can use again and can store un-intrusively in our parents’ garages in the meantime. Not to mention the fact that I am hardly qualified in the area of interior design. Just because I can hit “repin” when I see a space I like doesn’t mean I am knowledgeable enough to re-create it myself!
Which brings me back to square one... What do you really need to make a house look comfortable and lived-in?
It took me nearly a month and a half to answer this question, to overcome the intimidation factor of a blank canvas. (We even have a mantle this year that proved particularly overwhelming. Oh, the possibilities!) Eventually, I settled upon the same three things I always rely on, regardless of my zip code… my minimalist list of must-haves for making a house look like a home:
1. Pictures - Frames can be expensive and difficult to transport, so I only purchased a few and I'm using some Pinterest tricks to display the rest of my photos. (More on that later.) I also framed some music lyrics backed with scrapbook paper for colorful personalization.
2. Scented Candles – There is just something about scented candles that makes a place feel warm and welcoming, so I put my 40%-off Hobby Lobby coupons to good candle-buying use!
3. Plants - This year I got a Pathos plant and an Orchid since they are virtually un-killable. (I promise, mom, that I will leave these with friends from Wichita as opposed to bringing them home to my greenhouse- err- I mean your living room.)
And so, finally, after excruciating contemplation, I have purchased, arranged, and rearranged my little collection of home-making flare. In addition to the furniture supplied by the team, these small elements make the apartment look like a home. Of course, with my husband, baby, and dog in the mix, it feels like one too! And, in the words of my neighbor Dorothy, there’s no place like home…