In my preparations to move I’ve been going through all our stuff. And I’ve been faced with the repetitive question- what is worth keeping? Around 60 of our stuff has been in a storage unit for two months. These are the things we’ve missed: the speakers for my computer and our TV sound system. “The Greatest Showman” just couldn’t get off the page with our TV’s meager speakers, and Dvorak doesn’t appeal to my senses coming from a mac mini’s speaker. We’ve missed our books, and our bookshelves. The first piece of furniture I moved back after we sold the house was our little bookshelf. We love books and read a lot of them. I went looking for Tom’s hiking boots and rain boots for our weekend getaway. I missed easy access to all our art and learning supplies- I packed some of it away, and I shouldn’t have it, we need it, we use it, daily. I missed my “extra shoes.” I went looking for the hammock and our picnic blanket. But that was about it. There are things we love, and there are things that don’t add much to our lives.
Moving cross country is expensive and I’m trying to be cut throat about what we keep and what we leave. It’s made me consider what I value. Why is the gorgeous bright and colorful plate I bought in Mexico not on my wall? I love it. It makes me happy just looking at it, and brings back a sweet memory. Well, it doesn’t match your decor scheme. Hmmm. Why am I buying new blankets when I have all these other blankets that people I love have made for me? Hmmm. I love a well dressed home. I love a stylish thoughtfully designed home. But the homes that make me pause and feel are the homes that are filled with items of meaning. I follow a couple of feeds on instagram that have homes like this. Their guitars, banjos, and violins hang on the wall- because they want easy access- they play them often. The art supplies are often the centerpiece, because why put them away when they’ll use them tomorrow? Children’s art is framed and displayed whimsically, and the whole home has a worn-out-in-love look. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my Mom about my sister Dantzel. My Mom mentioned that Dantzel had a wise realization a few years ago: she couldn’t afford to dress the way she’d like to, and rather than fail in her attempts she ‘d embraced a new style that she could rock without breaking the bank- grunge. Now she wears our father’s shirts, and my Mom’s worn flannels. Her natural un-styled hair, a bi-product of waking up at 5:30am for seminary, is perfectly in style. Her dusty shoes- from caring for animals on the family’s hobby farm- en pointe.
As I’ve considered what to take and what to leave, I’ve found delight in the thought of a fresh take on my home design choices. Yesterday, I sold the first pieces of new furniture I ever bought- two tufted leather chairs. They’re prone to scratching from children’s unclipped toe nails, and they tip over if children lean up against the backs as they look out the window. They’re not cozy for reading, and too slippery for building forts around. And their formality begs for their surroundings to similarly shape up and be rigid. They stage beautifully. But they aren’t chairs you really live in- just look at. Selling them was hard at first. But now with them gone, the window entirely exposed, an whole rug to play and roll around on- we’ve had more spontaneous dance parties, i’ve enjoyed the poppies, delphinium and daisies more out the window, and I’m sitting on the floor now as I type- relaxed, casual.
I guess I’m grappling with the ‘look at’ vs ‘live in’ approach to design. I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive, in fact the IG posts I mentioned above tell otherwise. But I’m beginning to understand why so many large families have some element of ‘farmhouse’ styling in their homes. A weathered wood dining room table- welcomes the dings of an impatient toddler’s fork. A rustic shelf welcomes the collection of “treasures” from a hike. More and more I want a home that welcomes my children in all their energetic creative aka rowdy messy splendor. This month I’ve seen my kids in a new light. They’re inventiveness astounds me. Their focus and drive inspires me. Their full-on embrace of each day- their determination to not waste a moment, it’s breathtaking! I want my children to always see a home as a place to romp, wrestle, sing, build and exult. I want them to fill their days with passionate pursuit, and I want our home to be a place where their creations have a place- even a place of honor.
I’m not sure our rental is going to achieve these aims, but I’m hoping a year of make-do furniture arrangements, no house projects, and two large parks nearby will open a new chapter in our lives! One filled with adventure, togetherness, and focus on truly living!