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Why do you decorate?

12 years ago

I'm sure this has come up a million times before . . .I've been thinking about it lately!

I tend to focus on decorating a lot when I have a baby! I think this is for a few reasons:

(1) I am home a lot more often, so things that have always bothered me are more "in my face."

(2) It is a sense of control. With a baby, there is "no" control since everything is about the baby. It is always chaotic for awhile, so decorating is sort of something I can control.

(3) I see my home as the backdrop of our lives . . .and I want that backdrop to be warm and welcoming.

Even though these are my reasons right now since my youngest is so little, I think they are always true. I think my environment has always had a strong impact on me. If things are messy, if there is bad lighting, if things just don't "go," if a picture is too small for a space, etc. it always bothers me.

The sense of control-- for sure. We can't control people, but we CAN control things. I also think of decorating as my "lalalalala" (hands over my ears) interest. There is SO MUCH tragedy and awfulness in the world (again, things beyond our control), that this is a way to not only distract myself from it, but also work to create an environment that is the opposite from it: safe, secure, and happy.

Can anyone relate? What are your reasons?

Comments (46)

  • 12 years ago

    It's natural instinct, women are the nest makers by nature. Decorating is part of making that home for our families and surrounding ourselves with things the make us comfortable.
    That's why pregnant women nest more, to prepare for the baby. I had very little nesting opportunities when I was pregnant and to settle that urge, I just kept rearranging furniture.

  • 12 years ago

    I am done "decorating". I just dust and sometimes move things around. I think folks decorate because they don't feel at peace in their space and are looking for something. When I feel that way, I go outside and look at some true decoration. From what I can see here there is a lot of desire to follow trends and show off the wonderful success.

    In our home...We have nice things, we love them, and they are going to stay with us for probably ever. I enjoy seeing what others do with their decorating shenanigans :)

  • 12 years ago

    Lukk, I was just having this conversation with my 10 y.o. daughter. I asked her if some people have a need to seek beauty more than others? In some ways I don't like it! I feel like I am always looking-- always looking at the way colors mix, why certain proportions work (or don't), etc. I never nested while PG because I was either too busy or had zero energy!

    Sasa, if you are done decorating and don't think too highly of what people here do, why bother reading and looking? Is it really that much fun to make fun of people? That seems like a waste of time to me, and sort of sad, too.

  • 12 years ago

    For me it's a creative artistic outlet. Before children I painted furniture which I was passionate about, sometimes collaborating w/ my Dad and designing it ground up. He would build and tweak the piece.

    When the kids came along (3 under 8yrs) I didn't have that time to 'hole up' like I used to. I also lost any art studio space that I utilized before. I ended up focusing on small quick projects that I could accompolish and not have to clean up a ton of brushes, paint cleaner, a bunch of paint colors, stash wet canvasas or find a place for drying furniture etc... after nap time was over.

    Well - all that and my mom decorates therefore I decorate. Gene thing I guess!

  • 12 years ago

    I know in reality "things" cannot bring happiness, but living in a home where I have some connection to my surroundings in a comfortable way is important to me. I try to surround myself with things that make me smile. I work long hours, so I need a refuge from work (although I end up doing way too much work from home).

  • 12 years ago

    I don't think of decorating as a way of seeking beauty, for me, it is as an artistic outlet and like I said before, a natural instinct to nest.

  • 12 years ago

    Sasafras, I understand exactly what you are saying. I said the same a few years ago and got a similar response. I don't have an appetetive nature and I don't constantly agonize over shades of paint. I have not added anything new to my home in years. Even when we were decorating, I don't think I ever stressed about it; things worked or they didn't.

    My home, my nest, is warm and comfortable, and I was laughed at a bit for describing it in a recent thread. We get our connections in different ways, some of us by buying new things and keeping
    current, others by enjoying what we have, whether acquired from relatives, restored from craigslist, or finding that things just fit.

    I definitely "nested" while pregnant. I had lots of energy to prepare for the baby though we never had a nursery. I amazed myself with the energy I had for deep cleaning, something I don't enjoy or usually do. I wanted a clean house in that last month before giving birth, though.

    I do not open every thread because they don't all interest me. I rarely offer suggestions to other posters. I do like to read threads here and there...some posts are more interesting to me than others. Why does that seem like a sad waste of time to you, anele? It is very nice being satisfied with one's life and things. It really is, even when everything isn't in its place.

  • 12 years ago

    It's kinda like beating your head against a brick wall: it feels so good when you stop.

    I hate the process because I don't like the amount of energy it takes to find what you want. I am very tactile and want to touch and see in person before I commit. Now that so much merchandise is not available at bricks and mortar stores, the on-line purchase/wait for delivery/return for different finish-color-size is frustrating and an energy drain.

  • 12 years ago

    Shermann, re:
    "Why does that seem like a sad waste of time to you, anele? It is very nice being satisfied with one's life and things. It really is, even when everything isn't in its place."

    I think you are misunderstanding me, Shermann. Being satisfied is far from a waste of time. In fact, there are many aspects of my life (inc. some areas of deco) that I am completely at peace with and have contentment, and I am grateful. This is not what I was referring to! However, coming to a board dedicated to the topic of decorating JUST to look down on others and make fun of their tastes? That seems like a waste of time and IS sad to me.

    I am referring to these comments:
    "From what I can see here there is a lot of desire to follow trends and show off the wonderful success."-- Looks like sarcasm to me-- maybe I misunderstood.

    "I enjoy seeing what others do with their decorating shenanigans."

    Let me give you another example . . .there are people who are really, really into Waldorf dolls. They spend hundreds (even thousands) of dollars on them, plan their days around getting hard-to-get dolls, talk about them, etc. Now, I have a few of these dolls and I am happy with them. I don't need more. However, I think it would be pretty pathetic of me to spend my time on the doll forums JUST to talk about how happy I am with mine, how content I am with mine, and look down on others who are not. That seems sort of mean to me.

    Java, ha, ha, yes. I am with you. I do not really enjoy some of the process. I would be happier to just have what I like now, because what I DO like, I enjoy, and have no desire to replace it. I do like the "doing" aspect-- sewing, designing, and planning, but not so much the shopping! Most of what I do is just in my head, though, since I am physically not able to carry out my ideas right now. I will when my youngest is older . . .but I am not wishing these days away!

  • 12 years ago

    "I hate the process because I don't like the amount of energy it takes to find what you want."

    I had to laugh when I read this Java, cause I'm completely the opposite, I love the process, it's challenging to me. I get a vision in my head and approach it like a puzzle, finding each individual piece to put it together.

    "I am very tactile and want to touch and see in person before I commit. Now that so much merchandise is not available at bricks and mortar stores, the on-line purchase/wait for delivery/return for different finish-color-size is frustrating and an energy drain."

    but I couldn't agree with you more about this. I don't like to buy before I can see something in person either, especially when it's an expensive item. I will usually try to find the same thing locally or at least order from a site that has a brick & mortar store with an easy return policy. The most draining part for me is when DH disagrees with what I want to do and then I REALLY have to get creative. Or worse yet, my plan won't work because of some glitch. Hate that.

    I find great joy in the creative process and seeing the finished product, especially when it's something I've done on my own.

    The other day a friend called asking for pictures of the flooring we installed ourselves and the table I refinished all on my own. She said she was talking to her husband and wanted to show him pictures. That made my day.

  • 12 years ago

    Its drink or tinker with the house, or drink LOL! But not really. I want to be in a place that looks good and feels good. I hate going to people homes who don't care, it just seems so cold.

  • 12 years ago

    I like the "creative" part -- dreaming up what paint color/WT/furniture/furnishings combos would work together and meet my boundary conditions. I just don't like when I can't find the "stuff" to fill the holes between what I dreamed up and "stuff" I already have. I want to be like Samantha, twitch my nose and have "stuff" appear. I don't decide all that quickly, but once I do, I want it all and I want it now. Impatient? Yup!

    Anele - You are so lucky to be where you are now in life! I have a feeling you know that and do enjoy it.

  • 12 years ago

    Interior decor and design is a subject that is a life-long passion of mine. I decorated my first room when I was 6 and over 6 decades later still enjoy tweaking my decor. It's like any other interest or ability - some have it 'in spades', some don't have it at all, and others have it to varying degrees. I don't think it's something that requires psychoanalysis. I find it a creative pursuit and occasionally like to make original things to use in my decor. I never want my home to look like anyone else's so avoid trendy things unless I really love them.

    Shorter answer - I decorate because I can't *not* decorate.

  • 12 years ago

    Our house had mostly builder grade stuff that quickly fell apart so we seem to be on a never ending remodel with upgraded replacements and add-ons. You all know how it works; when one thing gets remodeled it leaves the surrounding area's deficiencies highlighted. I'm mostly burnt out from it all but get a spark of creativity for non-construction type decorating before I have out of state or out of country guests. When that happens I turn my tired burnt out critical eye to the little things to make a room more appealing. However, like I mentioned I'm getting burnt out and love it that I can come here to get help or eventually figure out what's in my head by spring boarding some idea's off.
    While I used to love decorating lately it's been a sort of mental torture. Although I like some of my stuff part of me wants to start all over with a different look, still warm colors and still eclectic but heavier on the contemporary side. Unfortunately most of the things that I would like to swap out are well above my price range and that greatly frustrates me.
    So, I guess I decorate to appease myself for not being able to do a full redecorating job or to replace things are just plain worn out.

  • 12 years ago

    I have not read any responses. Only have a minute.

    Basically, I decorate because I like to surround myself with pretty things. I grew up in a home where nothing was decorated. Everything was just thrown together, and then once my parents divorced and my mom went to work full time, not only was it not decorated, but it was a mess. It was a very chaotic time in my life, and for me, I love things decorated and clean (at least I try), so I feel peaceful.

  • 12 years ago

    I'm not sure what people here mean when they use the term "decorate". I see some beautifully put together rooms with mantles or buffets or side tables or DR tables nicely arranged with candles and candlesticks, pictures, lamps, seasonal things etc. I appreciate them and am often in awe of the talent that I see here.

    My decorating is very simple because I can't stand clutter and extraneous belongings (probably comes with being the eldest of 6 and being in charge of Saturday morning dusting when growing up) and so my decorating is, by this forum, nonexistent. But within that, I hope that my window treatments, as simple as they are, coordinate with the wall colour, furniture and area rugs and that they all present a calm unifying picture that offers a warm home for my family and guests.

    I'm a SAHM and years ago my DH asked my why was I painting the walls and why was I spending so much time choosing colours and told me the kids and he didn't care and that it was a waste of time. At the same time he had just redone his office at work and so I told him to view the house as my office - then he got it. I'm still that way.

  • 12 years ago

    I'm home more than not so being in a home that is comfortable and pretty is important. I don't look down on anyone who wants to follow trends and come here to present their ideas and things they love.

    I love to bring old things back to life and like someone said, I love that feeling of accomplishment. I decorate for my comfort and enjoyment, no one else's.

    I have learned a great deal from this forum and hope one day I know enough to really make a worthwhile contribution to the forum.

  • 12 years ago

    After reading all the responses so far I can say that palimpsest's answer most reflects how I feel. I have gotten rid of much of my furniture this year. The room s were never full but I felt they had more than I wanted/needed/ could tolerate.

    The proportions of the rooms and the wall colors combined with beautiful moldings and architectural details make the rooms. I am most intrigued by the light in each room...always have been in this house. The rugs and art work alone are enough...we need places to sit but they are fewer than they were a few months ago.

    I checked out a book from the library last year. It was the most wonderful minimalist decorating. That book got me looking and thinking. After doing another bike tour of 2 months and having everything I needed within arms reach in my trailer I was more than ready to eliminate even more from my own home.

    I am going on a tour for 3+ months this Summer...I believe I will come home and rid myself of even more....perhaps the chairs too :) although I love chairs..


  • 12 years ago

    Why do I decorate?

    First I never think in terms of decorate, decorate implies finished project. I will never be finished.

    I have to be creative, I bore easily, I crave change. Our house has been home for over twenty years. If I ever finished I would be bored out of my mind, and insist on a move!

    I'm like the Golden Gate bridge, once you finish painting, it's time to start again. Prevents rust ya know.

  • 12 years ago

    I have been buying, stripping furn, painting, and redoing since 1960. I have had many homes , many styles and lots of everything. My last home, before this condo, was what I thought was my forever home.
    Life changes. I sold my little home and moved and honestly
    thought I had everything I wanted or needed and wouldn't buy anything.
    When I get through with my renovating, lol, I will post pics.
    Its just in some of us! I still love the eye candy.

  • 12 years ago


    I love your pre-Restoration Hardware chair! :0)

  • 12 years ago

    It's in my blood.

    It's a way to express myself.
    I am a visual person, so my surroundings at home have to be comfortable aka visually appealing.

    I was born under the sign of Cancer - true homebody.

    I decorate with old family pictures or mementos to remember loved ones.

    I decorate with trinkets or etchings/artwork purchased while traveling to bring back those memories.

    But the best reason is to make our house a home for our family, friends and pets.

  • 12 years ago

    Its a creative outlet for me. I love thinking about color, proportions, etc. why all the elements work or don't work. Its kind of like an enjoyable game. When I bring something in that doesn't work, I have fun thinking about why it doesn't. I also like a pleasant place to live when there is comfort and beauty. I just enjoy it and have fun with it, it may not look the best but I have fun with it. I also enjoy responding to posts just as much, I enjoy reading the different ideas. I do think people with beautiful homes like to show them off and I do think a lot of people on this site follow trends - right now its anything grey, but hey - whats the crime? We are lucky to even have the resources to do these things or the luxury to think about it - for others their lives are all about survival.

  • 12 years ago

    All the above sounds true and real and essential to me.

    My mother is dying at home, and while clearing out junk and preparing space for all the hospital equipment, etc, I did some "decorating" too.

    Then, yesterday, after she had been at home for a week, I moved things around. Replaced the orange fruit bowl with a crystal one (it's so warm outside!), moved a chrome-cosied teapot to a location where it better echoed the faucet, decluttered a bit more (now you can really see the copper collection). I know cleaning is not decorating, but shiny, spotless surfaces give back that same sense of peace as do beautiful objects, at least to me.

    I really don't know if she appreciates beauty in the same way as I do. She has a lot of beautiful stuff, but never seemed to need to spend time showcasing and highlighting it like I do.

    Nonetheless, I'd have to say that for me, too, it's "in my blood" even if the blood bypassed a generation.

    Funny, it's been a very hard time and there are many things I can't talk about, but my most comforting conversations with aunts have been where I listened to them tell me about what they're doing in their decorating lives. Small things that have a lot of meaning in them.

  • 12 years ago

    I'm so sorry Jamies. I have been in your shoes. Keeping our mom home was the very best thing we could have done. I hope it turns out that way for you and your family. My thoughts are with you.

    As for decorating - I do it because I too am a nester and love making a house a home. I love making our house reflect us and our life together. For me too, it is a creative outlet. It's a way of caring for your family, making your home the best it can be . . .


  • 12 years ago

    The mental stimulation when you're working it out in your head. The sense of peace and enjoyment when you finally get it right.

    Jamies, I'm sorry too about what you're going through. Best wishes to you and your mom.

  • 12 years ago

    I'm sorry, Jamies. I can't imagine. I'm glad you're there for your mom.

  • 12 years ago

    home decor never really interested me till I had my first baby and was home on maternity leave for 3 months...I started watching HGTV and it all went from there.

  • 12 years ago

    I don't decorate, really. I just use the Tossed Salad method. I buy a couple of things at a time and toss them in the room. If a tomato red pillow lands on an eggplant couch, oh well...

    Besides, nobody lives here except me and DH. He likes things neat, but he's not picky.

    We do have a new home that I want to look nice, but "decorating" isn't that important to me. I read here because I love to see what others do. I guess besides a tosser, I'm a Decorating Voyeur.

    Oops. I think I just confessed.

  • 12 years ago

    jamies, my sympathies also in this trying time. I guess you had the urge to make the surroundings as peaceful as possible for your mom, hence the decorating instinct.

  • 12 years ago

    So sorry, Jamie. I hadn't read most of the tread until now. I know how difficult it must be for you.

  • PRO
    12 years ago

    Thinking about color, space, balance etc gets me a mental zone just feels so right. Like I was made to do this.

    My dh is audio focused and creating music gets him in his zone. I find it fascinating how there is no way, no how I could write a decent song and enjoy the process where that is one of his (and dd's) greatest joys.

    I remember being chosen to decorate the classroom bulletin board in 2nd grade and the rest of the world just disappeared as I worked on it.

    jamie, you said 'true and essential' and I so agree. Wishing you the best with your mother.

  • 9 years ago

    I had the same, I wanted to change everything :) I even changed my heaters on Verano's trench heating to make my house safer and roomier :)

  • 9 years ago

    My home is my safe spot and I want it to be cozy and warm. I want my family and friends to feel comfortable and loved here, like my home is hugging them. At Christmas my DMIL commented on how wonderful my tables look for holidays. I never considered that anyone noticed but me, because it's just what I do. It was nice to hear that it was appreciated.

    I have always enjoyed making the most of the items that I have. Most of my accessories are from antique shops and have been collected over my lifetime. I still go antiquing and love doing it. It is still a thrill to find a piece that I didn't even know I needed.

    I agree with Anele that controlling the environment in my home is even more important now that our world is in such turmoil!

  • 9 years ago

    In my opinion, the human condition yearns for beauty in their every day life. If it weren't so, no one would mow their lawns or pick up trash. It's the reason people like me create art, there's a longing for it and has been since the beginning of time. Some people are able to execute it in a way that's more appealing to others and that has to do with their innate talent or learning to recognize how to use proportion and presentation. Yes we all go about it in different ways but the urge to create a living condition that is seen in children as young as two. That being said, there are people who don't attempt to achieve a cohesive look in their homes and they feel perfectly relaxed in those settings but the majority of the people on this forum would not be relaxed. For instance, I have a sil who has dozens of unrelated items in her home and clutter on every surface to the point that I volunteered to do her den over for her, she was thrilled. We bought and decorated it and she was delighted, seemed she loved it but, alas, two months later the beautiful end tables were cluttered with various items, her hat was hanging on the lamp, there were odd items added to the walls and it appeared to be the home of a hoarder. Is she happy? Yes she is, she loves having the "stuff" around her overspilling on to chairs and the floor. Could I be happy there, heck no. So, all in all, most people like a sense of order. There are no absolutes in fashion, art or decorating. There are some helpful rules so to speak but I've seen those rules broken to a point where it creates a new type of art and that's good. We all have our own likes and dislikes. We can agree on that. For me, I adore decoration to the point that my friends and family always ask my opinion especially on the relationship of the size of items. I love this forum not just the decor but for the concept of people helping each other, that, in itself, is inspirational.

  • 9 years ago

    because there can never be too much beauty in our lives

  • 9 years ago

    It may be the same reason why I clean and de-clutter; it's because my parents never really did either of those things. To their credit they were busy, but in the end they wound up living with and procrastinating about a lot of things for a number of years so they never got done. I don't want to go on a lot of tour of homes, take magazines and talk about decorating, I want to actually decorate and enjoy the results.

  • 9 years ago

    My mom was rearranging and changing everything, all the time in my family house. I think I have it in genes :D

  • 9 years ago

    Because Martha Stewart says you have to.

  • 9 years ago

    Having a decorated vs undecorated home for me personally affects my comfort zone. I've been ' done' for the last several years with the big stuff, but occasionally move things/ replace if the urge strikes, but it's not out of necessity.

    Since retiring I spend a good part of time at home, and it' s the happiness my home/surroundings bring to me. It's just that simple!

  • 9 years ago

    also, human beings decorate. Themselves, their objects, their homes. It's a pretty universal human activity.

  • 9 years ago

    I have a good friend whose house has stayed exactly the same for the last 20 years. Even the artificial flowers on top of the hutch stay the same. The only additions are new appliances when one breaks and school photos go up on one wall. I am always amazed that she doesn't care about decorating. The house is not warm and friendly, but serviceable. But she is a clean freak. It is spotless.

    Then I realized that she spends what I consider an inordinate amount of time on her wardrobe and appearance. She is very beautiful. Everything matches. There is a necklace and bracelet and a ring that goes with the color she is wearing. Her makeup is perfect. It takes her 1 1/2 hours to get ready in the morning. I can shower and get out of the house in 30 minutes. I fuss over my house. It pleases me. She fusses over her appearance. Don't get me wrong. I look fine when I leave everyday, but it doesn't take a great deal of energy.

  • 9 years ago

    I think decorating personalizes a home, and I want mine to express who I am.

  • 9 years ago

    Even as a very little girl I wanted a home that was ours, not the countless temporary rentals. I have that now, and everyday I am so thankful. I love my home and I love decorating it. It brings me joy and great satisfaction. My husband and I love searching for just the right thing for exactly the right spot at the perfect price. When I walk in the door, there is always a big smile on my face!

  • 9 years ago

    I used to think I just liked shopping, or looking at pretty things and bringing them home.

    Then we moved our family of five to a dingy, outdated apartment for 10 months. We couldn't even hang a picture on the wall because every nail hole was $50 of our security deposit, and we were only there temporarily.

    I quickly learned that I need to see beautiful things. My eyes would hurt being there too long, I had to leave and browse a flower store or art gallery.

    So, I guess I decorate to make my eyes create an ambiance.