Friday, January 18, 2013

The problem with "temporary"

At the bottom of the stairs in the lower level of my parents house, there is a piece of glass sitting on top of two plaster columns spray-painted faux-stone (the cutting edge of DIY in 1990).  This was a cheap and temporary solution to the need for a console table some twenty-three years ago.  The problem?  It is still there.

I have a tendency to fill holes.  Perhaps it is because I am impatient.  Perhaps it is because I have a need to see things "finished."  Whatever the reason, I have spent too much time and money on temporary or "good enough" rather than "just right" over the years.  The biggest problem with temporary?  Almost inevitably, it becomes permanent.  Once you spend a small amount of money on something for the short term, you are less likely to invest in something you really like for the long term.  And once a space is occupied, it can be very difficult to move the "almost" item to make way for something you truly love.

(an old chair stands in for new night tables, here.  This is temporary done right!)

While the rise of blogs and access to all manner of affordable design has meant, in part, that many spaces look alike these days, there is a parallel celebration afoot of undecorated spaces, perhaps "unfinished" but also unique, quirky, and filled with meaningful items.  It's a good time to be patient and wait for the right things!

(who needs a headboard or nightstands? This room comes to life with a unique afghan and original art.)

I have recently been inspired by clients who moved from a tiny apartment in San Francisco to a large house here.  Unlike me, they are not racing around to fill and finish.  We created an overall design plan and style guide to keep them on track, and they are investing in one "right" piece at a time.  When I went to check on the install of a runner the other day, there was no couch in the living room.  Eventually there will be a lovely couch (and maybe someday a console table and lamps and so on), but for now, my client just shrugs and says, more space for the kids to run.

At this point, my house is pretty well "filled."  But moving forward, I hope I will remember this, and resist the urge for the quick fix.

What about you: are you patient, living with less while you wait for the right things?  Or are you more of a space-filler, like me?

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Heather. I've been struggling with this as well. Our last house was much larger and we felt the need to fill it up, so we accepted just about everything. I learned my lesson, though, because the boyriend does not see any need to replace one perfectly good (but not right/attractive/perfect) piece that we already own with something we'd have to buy. This house has been a balancing act. We have to have some things (ugly bookshelf, ugly desk) temporarily so we're not living out of boxes 2 years in. And there are lots of project pieces (a great chair that needs reupholstering, lamps that need rewiring) that aren't in finished states. But I don't put up a piece of art unless I love it (so we have a lot of bare walls). I recently redid the dining room and left a spot for a square piece of art I've had my eye on forever. The boyfriend wanted to put another picture there, but I nixed the idea - once something is up, I'm not going to feel the pressure to buy the art - which I currently feel everytime I look at the blank space.


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