I know I've constantly mentioned my (and my partner's) descent into becoming crazy cat people, but this week it gets even more personal. I want to tell this story not only because of what we recently purchased, but also because I constantly tell new clients (and you, the readers) how you should feel comfortable in your own home. At the end of the day, you have to enjoy living there. Not me, not any judgmental relatives, nor any snotty frenemies.
Your home should really reflect who you are, including any quirks or specific needs. If you happen to love clean, minimal spaces, and designer furnishings, then that's just great--you've made my job easy. But if you have a collection of glass elephants you can't live without, then it's my job to help make it look amazing--and I always welcome the challenge! Baseball cards, Italian horror movie posters, beer cans from around the world, Hummel figurines--if you love your stuff, then own it. Don't be ashamed. Your confidence and passion will be inspiring.
I remember one holiday season when I was maybe eight or nine years old. I went to school one day all dressed up in some crazy Christmas finery: green parachute pants, some wacky holiday character t-shirt, a flashing wreath pin on my cardigan, a big novelty Santa pen on a string worn as a pendant...there may have been tinsel and a Santa hat involved, too. I was just walking my chubby self from one end of the classroom to another when younger girl, about seven or eight years old, stopped me. She gave me (and my flashing accessories) a long look up and down.
"Wow, you've really got some Christmas spirit," she sneered. We were all advanced children, but she seemed particularly gifted at sarcasm. Her words made me wither inside and filled me with doubt. Suddenly I wondering if everyone thought I looked crazy. Was it the pin that tipped things over the edge? Why hadn't my mother said anything before I left the house?!
That girl's comment, along with all the other equally judgmental criticisms throughout elementary, junior high, and high school made me so afraid of how I was perceived by others. Was I wearing the right clothes? Should I really be eating that? Do I seem straight enough? As I got older and became more sure of myself those questions didn't panic me as much. But in the past few years as an interior designer, I've seen others plagued by similar doubts and fears: How will others think of me based on my home? Do I need to have that designer chair? Can I get more space to hide all the junk I don't want my friends to see?
Whenever I see that anxiety on someone's face, I tell them about my crazy cat stuff, my comic books in full display for guests to see, or my partner's collection of books piled up on the floor. I tell them (and you, readers) to be proud of what you have. They're only material possessions, so if they don't make you happy then get rid of them or replace them. Don't let your inner gay fat kid's flair get squashed. When you surround your space with the things that make you smile and feel happy (and even innocent, like a child), then you've finally created a home.
And if you ever visit my place, you'll see a space that belongs to two very happily crazy cat people.