When I lost my husband several years ago I felt an immediate need to move on and create a new identity a million miles away from that of 32 year old widow. I didn’t want to be alone, or surrounded by friends and family who didn’t know what to say to me, so I relied on work as a distraction and rarely mentioned what had happened. It wasn’t long before I met someone and we rushed into a life together. There were warning signals. I ignored them. I was lonely. He paid attention to me and at the time fulfilled a need. His manipulative control freakery which in my neediness I mistook for true affection soon erased all doubts I had on whether to embark on a life together.
The moment we had children I realised my mistake. Too selfish to be a father he soon tired of me now I was no longer fully available. Slowly we began resenting one another until we both wanted to throw the other out and start again.
My point in telling you my story is not “marry in haste, repent at leisure” but that you should never make compromises when it comes to big decisions and only commit to things you really truly love. Your new love may still betray you but frankly that’s the risk you take with anything.
It’s a bit like that when you inhabit new interiors. Especially if you move to new, bigger space. Your home feels empty. You lose your bearings, friends are desperate to see where you are and what you’ve done, then on arrival don’t quite know what to say. Old stuff doesn’t seem to fit, you need new beds, more chairs, new sofas, more of everything and what’s more you need it now.
But alien surroundings and unfamiliar times are not the time to be making big commitments. You need to get to know your space, live in it for a while, not plunge headlong into new interior decisions and furnishing commitments bound to end in sure disaster.
Instead accessorise with candles, tealights, a new faux fur throw, or practical necessities like adding dimmer switches to lighting or fairy lights along a fireplace. Stuff you’ve packed away and forgotten you had plus subtle lighting touches soon transform harsh empty space and flatter tired mis matched pieces. Painting can be done immediately but be prepared to change the colour. Delay laying carpets and instead buy inexpensive rugs, sand floors or better still plant out the garden.
Only once you’ve experienced each season – discovered where you gravitate to in winter and how the light dances in the summer, can you contemplate the big decisions. You’ll still make the odd mistake, but getting to know your space before you decorate will help you decorate with restraint rather than impatience and add subtle nuances anchored to your identity and how you actually want to live.
Before making large financial interior commitments, my advice is wait awhile, then date awhile and flirt with different concepts for as long as you can bear, until one day you watch a film, enter a coffee shop or store or in my case read a blog and think, “That’s it! I’ve found the mood and look I’m after.”
When you’re buying a new home, don’t commit to anything in your interior you can’t easily get out of. Focus on improving and experimenting with lighting and rearranging key accessories to help you get the look you want. Because no amount of afterthought can make a hastily put together, aspirational interior work. Your only choice is to abandon it and start again from the beginning.