This post is for all those girls who look at magazines and read blog posts and mutter, “Yeah, right.”
Decorating a house requires one important thing: disposable income. If you don’t have extra cash, you can’t buy stuff for your house. When bills come rolling in and there’s nothing left in the bank, you can’t go buy stuff at TJ Maxx or Target when the fancy strikes you.
Even if you have a little extra money each month, you can only buy so many little things before you realize you’ve amassed a lot of unnecessary clutter that doesn’t get you closer to the type of “someday” house you want.
It can be frustrating—trust me, I know. I was that girl for a lot of years. During the first eight years of our marriage, Lonnie and I were going to school, working, and having babies. The extra money wasn’t there. And when we finally graduated, we had a huge student loan to pay off—I mean, the number was equivalent to the price of a lot of houses in town.
So I adopted a mantra that helped me through the lean times, and I hope it might help you too. When you see something you love but can’t have, try telling yourself this: There will always be cute things.
I can’t tell you how much this helped me. If I saw a darling set of Kate Spade lamps I couldn’t afford, I’d tell myself out loud, “There will always be cute things.” If I saw an original painting full of colors I loved and the richness and depth I wanted in my house, I’d remind myself, “There will always be cute things.” And I moved on without making those purchases.
Now when I remember those years, there’s a part of me that would love to go back. We were busy, but we were learning so much! We were babies trying to figure out how to raise babies and work real jobs, and it was all exciting and new. Man, I’d give anything to go back to when my oldest was new. And if I’d had prettier dishes or a nicer sofa, it wouldn’t have been any more special than it was.
Here’s one more promise that might shock you: You’re going to get there before you know it. Someday you’re going to wake up 15 years older and realize you’re smack dab where you never thought you’d be. Nine years ago I was editing a book written by a multi-millionaire who wanted to teach others about the path to success. He wrote, “Show me the magazines you’re reading today, and I’ll show you your life in 10 years.” I thought, No way. My spare time was filled with reading design magazines full of pretty houses, but I was living in a tiny townhouse with second-hand furniture and a homemade bed (no kidding). I hadn’t bought new clothes in what seemed like forever.
That’s the homemade bed—plywood and pipes. I sewed the pillows and bedspread and made the headboard and drapes to save money.
But in 10 years or less, you’ll get there. You’ll be right where you wanted to be, and you’ll be shocked. And the crazy thing is, life won’t necessarily be better. It might be prettier, but it likely won’t be better.
So try to enjoy the stage of life you’re in. Fill your home with beauty that’s free, like branches clipped from your yard (or from the banks of the river if you’re a renter). Let yourself dream about the life you want to have because that’s the life you’re going to have before you know it. And don’t be afraid to pass on the perfect bedspread or prettiest leather chair or coolest set of baskets. Know why?
Because there will always be cute things. And that’s not what’s most important anyway. •