Thursday, April 7, 2011
Problems in the Bedroom
Our master bedroom was looking a little tired and I wanted to give it a new look without spending a lot of money. I love the way paint can transform a room so quickly and inexpensively. That and a change of art and bedding and I’d have a whole new room! It didn’t go that easily though.
I started with the bedding, but I couldn’t find anything I really liked and quickly became frustrated. I just wanted this done! I eventually looked on Craig’s List and found an Ikea duvet cover that looked bold and interesting. I arranged to go see it. When I saw it in person I was struck by how different it looked than the professional Ikea photo showed it. In person it seemed somewhat garish. Instead of listening to my inner voice though, I promptly bought it because it was a bargain and because I was there to buy it – that was my plan! I brought it home and tried to like it. I went to the paint store and bought bone colored paint that would match it and tone it down. I painted the whole room. But once done, I just couldn’t live with it or the ugly bone color, so I got rid of the garish duvet cover. So much for a bargain!
I thought I could warm up that bone color with chocolate brown, so I bought chocolate brown curtains and a bed skirt and I hand-dyed two sets of sheets the same rich brown and they turned out to look like a beautiful suede. I found an attractive dark eggplant duvet cover and after much online shopping found some throw pillows that matched that purple. Great – I was done! The trouble was that the bone color, the brown, and the eggplant color did not at all go well together. There were three different looks that had no sense of cohesion and every time I walked into the room I would wince.
So I started over. Again. This time I decided that my goal was not to “just get it done” but to love it when it was done, acknowledging that it might take some time. I also decided to be more intentional with the room. If I could choose a color scheme and look, what would that be? This is very different from sifting through options and seeing what I could live with and hoping they would all go together. I really loved the brown, so I would keep that. A friend of mine who stages houses pointed out that duvet covers look messy, so she advised looking for a new bedspread/comforter and getting rid of the duvet. When I looked around with this option I had far more choices that I really liked. In fact, I found two that I loved and settled in on one of them. It is cream colored with a tasteful dark orange and dark brown design on it. It was exactly what I had had in mind when I took the time to think about what I really wanted. Not only did it match the new brown pieces that were already in the room, but the bone color that I previously disliked took on more of a khaki color when paired with the rest of the colors and matched it perfectly. I happened to have some dark color primer that was the exact orange color on the bedding and I painted an accent wall with that left over paint. Suddenly my room came together. Sure, I don’t have a headboard and bigger lamps as my friend advised but I don’t “need” them and can work on that eventually. For now I am just thrilled with the look of the room, though chagrined that I wasted about $160 in my less mindful purchases on the way.
The lesson I learned from this was to slow down and be intentional before making decisions. Being done with something turned out to be less important than loving it. Thinking carefully about what I wanted and how all of the elements would flow together was critical. While I did like the eggplant color on its own, I failed to consider how it would coordinate with the other elements. I wasn’t thinking holistically. This lesson could be applied to all sorts of categories in my life, but the job search certainly came to mind. If I fail to think holistically and rush through this decision, I might make a bigger mistake than color clashing.
A job has to be appealing to me in many ways. Does the role make the best use of my skills and interests? Will it pay well enough that it makes sense to take it and then have to pay for childcare? Is the location and distance the right fit? Is it flexible so that a sick kid won’t be a big problem? Do I get the sense that I like the people I will work with? Is it doing something (or being part of something) that truly makes the world a better place? Beyond money, what is in it for me – will I gain a skill or experience that I want to have? And even more importantly, have I worked out my vision of exactly what I want ideally in a job and then either find it or create it, rather than choosing something I might be able to live with.
I am fortunate that I not only can afford to absorb a couple of mistaken purchases and lessons learned, but I have the luxury of taking my time and choosing carefully how I will go about making a living in a way that is carefully integrated and aligned with the my life and values. I recognize that I am very lucky. Given what I learned from the interior design fiasco and considering how I can apply that lesson learned to life choices with much higher stakes, the bedroom mistake was a bargain after all.