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Be ye not a glutton

A guide to letting go and homing in on your dream décor

It’s time to find that investment piece, an heirloom, your truest furniture love dream // Photo by Ashley Heider Daly

I’ve heard all my life how much personal growth lay ahead of me—after high school, after college, in my first job, in marriage, and so on. Turns out, it’s true. I know one negative attitude can ruin the collaboration of an entire team, I know bosses take you seriously if you take yourself seriously, I know it’s OK to pause an argument late at night and wait for the perspective only morning can bring, and I know money is important but happiness is priceless.

And I, finally, just on the brink of thirty, know which light fixture I want in my bathroom.

Believe it or not, home decorating follows the same path as Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Owning a furniture-less home is like being a starving person. Many poor design decisions spring from deep, literal emptiness.

My mind muddled with need, I’ve made some truly inappropriate choices. I once put a flat-backed bookshelf across a corner, leaving a gaping wasteland of useless space behind it. The shelf was given to me, and it could only fit that one way, and I just really wanted to get my things out of boxes and onto something.

That last sentence is definitely not how I want to explain my decorating choices to my children.

Recently, I’ve had people tell me they are done decorating their house because it is full of furniture. Shut up. You have better days ahead, my friend. Thank God I didn’t stop at the bookshelf-across-the-corner experiment. My husband later built a bookshelf that fit in that corner, and I’m a better person for not settling for option A. A full house is where a focus on true design can begin. You have arrived at the best part of the journey. It’s time to self-actualize y’all—furniture-wise, that is.

You know how good it felt to just own a chair? Now imagine how good it feels to own a chair for which you yearned. I own some chairs of my dreams, and I sit in them every day, and they make me a nicer person.

Think I’m wrong to put so much emphasis on material things? That means you’ve never owned the chairs of your dreams.

Your home is full. Great. Now you can refine. Look for the best version of what you love, discover the better answer for the furniture needs you have. Be happy with what you have, but let your life be open to new arrangements and trading out for something you didn’t know was better until you saw it. The best houses are layered with moments when you learned something about yourself. My new bathroom light says, “I like brass, and I’m finally comfortable with that.”

Bye, bye, baby

Say sayonara to that couch you’ve had since college

Respect the memories.
Some people can’t get rid of a piece of furniture they’ve fallen out of love with because they feel attached and loyal. I’ll only say this once: don’t flatter yourself. No one assigns more humanity to furniture than I do. If you don’t love it anymore, the right thing to do is to let it go on and live another life where love is possible once again.

It’s not your mom’s house.
My parents generously gave me a lot of furniture when I got my own place, including some peach occasional chairs. I traded out those chairs years later with some wooden, Danish lounge chairs, and I was wildly nervous my parents wouldn’t approve the drastic change or be hurt I didn’t keep their gift forever. It’s funny—I think they were actually proud I’d settled in on my own look. And if they weren’t, shame on them.

A return on investment.
The sofa you paid $300 for at Ikea five years ago gave you memories, friend, but don’t embarrass yourself by insisting it also gave you back exactly the financial investment you made. You made out with your future spouse on that sofa AND you can get $40 for it on Craigslist? You’re welcome. That’s how your sofa wants to be remembered.