Caught somewhere between perfection and chaos—how do you know when it’s time to invest in a change or embrace the dark side?
I have recently come to the realization that I am living in design purgatory. You know, when you have visions of beauty and perfection just within reach, but your reality is upheaval and suffering. The kind caused by stepping on LEGO and accidentally vacuuming up Barbie’s shoes 10 times a day. The kind where you realize that the dramatic dining room you envision with a built-in cognac leather banquette and eclectic artwork is currently some sort of experimental laboratory for half-baked craft ideas and homemade slime.
I know that I can’t be alone in my struggle. So the question is: how do you decide when to invest in a temporary space? Those rooms that are designated to “one day” become sophisticated spaces, but are currently inhabited by small messy creatures. Do you put money into making those rooms stylish and organized for the kids, knowing you will tear it all down in 5 years, or do you just let chaos ensue and invest in lots of Chardonnay instead?
Well let’s get real. Before you can decide what path is best for you, ask yourself these 4 simple questions:
- How long is too long?
Look at your timeframe and ask yourself how long you can endure the mayhem. There is a big difference between living in limbo for 12 months versus 12 years. We all have varying degrees of tolerance: some of us are great at turning a blind eye, while others require structure to thrive. Being honest about your threshold will help you prioritize
- Can you afford it?
It seems like an obvious question but have you really sat down and mapped out how much it would cost to temporarily transform your space? Often we get overwhelmed at the thought of redecorating, assuming it will break the bank or that it’s frivolous, but maybe there are simple design hacks that can get the job done more simply. Have you reached out to someone locally (Oh, hello MANOR12!) to brainstorm ideas and put a realistic budget together?
- Can you re-purpose?
If you are stuck on the fact that this is a short term fix, think of how you can repurpose your materials in the future. This is where having a plan is key. If you measure and install storage, shelving and furniture that will easily fit into other spaces in the home, suddenly your investment just got a whole lot smarter.
- What brings you joy?
This might seem like an existential question, but it might be the most important one. Write down a list of the things that truly bring you joy but also the things that bring on stress in your home. If structure makes you feel happy and peaceful then that shouldn’t be ignored. Or maybe it turns out that you actually really love the family dinners where everyone is crammed around one small table because it makes for good memories. When you prioritize joy, you are less likely to make a mistake.
If I take my own advice, it’s now clear what I need to do next. In our case, a
finished family-friendly basement is next on the list but realistically, it is still 2 years away. In the meantime, the perfectionist in me needs order—so I can invest a small amount on IKEA storage and a second-hand table to give the kids a proper craft room that isn’t an eyesore. When the basement is done, these investments can be retrofitted into my home office and we can finally create a dining room built for candlelight and grown-ups.
And just like that—suddenly design heaven doesn’t seem so far away. I would love to hear what projects you’ve been putting off and maybe together we can draw a map to Nirvana.