Let’s talk about the Benjamin Button-ization of our style. Maybe it was a comment one of you made recently or just a quiet moment of looking around our house, but lately we’ve been noticing that our style is getting younger. Perhaps it’s a mid-life design crisis? We’ll just call it the latest stage in our constantly evolving sensibility (read: indecisiveness), but we couldn’t help but share this observation to see if anyone else has noticed it in our house – or in your own.
STAGE 1: “Wait, you mean I can paint these walls whatever color I want???”
In all likelihood, Sherry or I actually said something like this when we made that giant leap from renters to homeowners. After years of white walls and temporary furnishings, that pent up frustration unleashed itself within hours of closing on this house back in 2006. The result was a kaleidoscope color scheme throughout the house and lots of meager apartment decor trying desperately to fill up an entire house. Case in point:
STAGE 2: “Okay, let’s be serious now. We’re homeowners. That means we’re, like, adults.”
Our transition into this stage happened right after we started blogging (and if you’ve read our archives, you can spot it occurring in posts like this, this and more recently this). Somewhere along the line we decided that our house needed to “grow up” and look like a real home that real adult people lived in. In reality, this blog is mostly a documentation of that growing up process. You know, an attempt to bring some sophistication to our design choices, acquire real furniture, and renovate rooms so they function better for the way we live. And that’s how we got to the room designs that you guys are probably most familiar with.
STAGE 3: “Wait a second – why are we in a rush to turn into stodgy neutral-loving ‘grown ups’?”
Here’s where the aging backwards a la Benjamin Button comes into play (aka: design regression). Thanks to the addition of Clara, Sherry and I realized – only subconsciously at first – that we could have more fun with our style. Our house could cheerfully boast more color, take itself less seriously, and even delve into the playful category. The catalyst for this being Clara’s nursery, of course (although last year’s citrus themed Christmas decor – instead of our usual silver scheme – was an even earlier tip off that this phase was coming).
We always intended for her nursery to be a fun kids room, but we never expected that whimsy would trickle into other spaces as well. I guess in realizing that we want Clara to enjoy her surroundings as much as we do and that we no longer need to prove our adulthood (we have a baby for pete’s sake) we became open to letting some more fun and color find its way around our home. Like the pig hooks hanging in our office…
…and this banner we made for a BabyCenter post that ended up cheering up our living room fireplace.
Even the bold pattern of the Clara rug in our den is a big step for us.
It doesn’t mean we’ll be converting the master bedroom into a moonbounce or painting the kitchen ceiling hot pink, but we’re kind of excited by the freedom to loosen up and pepper some more fun, color, and pattern into our next house. Heck, it’s not like we’re getting any younger…
Anyone else noticing that they’re moving into a new “phase” of decorating? Has your style flipped or flopped due to getting your own place, getting married, having a baby, getting hired (or fired) or any other stage-of-life occurrence?
Oh boy, can I ever relate to this post! I am getting married in a month and we just moved to a new, much larger space (still renting, unfortunately). But still – the jump from 600 sq feet to over 1800 is a big one and the house is still a wreck. We are getting ready for a couple big projects and purchases soon – building a Knock off wood king size bed, getting a new sofa (Pottery Barn’s Carlisle), building a modern farmhouse dining table, refinishing an old dresser, etc. Not to mention furnishing an entire office (currently a very nice storage room for our boxes of books). We are lucky that the house is in good shape for being 80+ years old so really we just need to expand our furnishings into more grown up territory. Posts like this do make me feel a little better about the house being a mess right now! Things are sloooowly starting to come together. Maybe I will send an email later with some of our transformations. :)
Is that a green house window originally in your dining room?
Yes! it was broken and had no seal so we actually got a credit to replace it at closing (but it only covered getting a new basic non-greenhouse window).
Jill S. says
I think my husband and I are on that “lets keep things neutral” road. We tend to paint ALL of the walls different tones of neutral whites and inject color with furniture/decor/window coverings. Except for the update of our kitchen in which we painted the bottom half (underneath the chair rail) a stunning sky-ish blue. Which was, after much discussion, my victory! And although I want to inject more color into our house to make it more playful and lived-in, we don’t plan on settling here and my hubby insists it’ll be easier to sell with walls that are a blank slate. As homeowners with colored walls who are preparing to sell, you’ll have to let us know if you hear comments from buyers about your color scheme. ;) Maybe I can use your experiences to win some battles (since he reveres your design sensibility and blog).
liz @ bon temps beignet says
As much as I would LOVE to change up just our dining room or just the living room, we can’t because both rooms are open to the kitchen that we’re just about done remodeling. Ugh.
Cait @ Hernando House says
I think our house has been getting more neutrals, textures and pops of color recently, instead of a lot of vibrant color. Also I am having a love affair with grey&yellow. I guess we’re at a design crossroad as our blog develops and we try to decide what we like.
I especially noticed this in the sun room with the infusion of turquoise. I shockingly thought to myself, what happened to only neutrals?? I do love the pops of color so I’m happy to see Clara brought this out of you. It has made me add little things like colorful pillows and vases to brighten up a space in a simple non permanent way. Thanks as always!!
I am the exact same way. Right as a I went from a renter to a homeowner I went a bit color crazy! All my rooms were these bright bold colors, which I totally love! But I get this constant need for change, so just a few short years later we repainted everything all over again, and definitely brought in more neutrals (although we kept the bedroom a bold color). Change is fun, and when it’s with paint, not too expensive. Love the blog!
I know exactly what you mean! When my husband and I moved into our first house, I went color crazy! Dark green in the living room, apple red kitchen, lime green guest bedroom. There was zero method to my madness! In the three years we’ve lived in our house, I’ve taken a deep breath and slowly toned down each room. And I’m adding “whimsy” in the form of fun knickknacks and accessories, instead of trying to paint the rainbow in our house! :)
My house is SO the kaleidoscope – ELEVEN colors in just over 800 sf!
They are subtly different so hopefully don’t appear clownish to visitors though.
You can see three of them here just please don;t judge me for the dirty floor and the antenna leaning against the wall that FINALLY been put away!:
Rebecca @ the lil house that could says
I was definitely just realizing this with myself lately… get out of my head!
I think I’m in the middle phase you speak of, which makes sense because I’m in my first house without a baby. Our condo, which thankfully we could paint, was a little less sophisticated than I’m feeling these days. And I’m leaning towards a neutral color scheme for our newly renovated bedroom. I just felt like for a while I was in a “every room has to be a different color” phase. Which I still try to change it up, but in a different way these days.
Do you think you will stick with the blue, green and tan color scheme or switch it up?
We’re definitely in love with blues and greens and tans, but we definitely plan to switch things up and really want to bring in totally new colors and patterns (perhaps we’ll ditch the white curtains everywhere for punchy and bold curtain panels in each room). Is it weird that the thought of that gets me all hot and bothered?
I’m definitely a neutral lover. I want to add more pops of color but it’s something I struggle with.
You should see our bedroom in our rented place. It was the first time we could paint a place. Oh man. I regret it now but it is a textured wall that took forever to paint and there is no way I’m priming it and re-painting it a lighter color. No way. You can see it behind us here on our blog: http://bluzel.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html
This post reminded me of this blog and the colorful way she decorates everything: http://colormekatie.blogspot.com/
I am the opposite.
Since I started reading your blog I have been gravitating more toward neutrals and less toward the very colorful and chaotic look we have going on now. It’s hard because we are still renting and every room is a different color (and some of them are CUH-RAZY colors) but i find your style very visually calming. Bug then again I just made a queen bed-size quilt for our master bedroom with including robots, bicycles, and toasters so maybe i’m not really growing up after all.
Emily @ The Happy Home says
i think i got too excited with color when i painted our bedroom. it’s a lovely, deep shade of blue from martha stewart, but might be too much for the room. whoops! live and learn. thankfully, paint is easy to undo!
we painted the living room an airy blue… i think it’s plenty neutral. i wonder why people think beige is the only “neutral” color?
Julia M says
…DON’T forget about the Benjamin Button-y of your sunroom. Hello turquoise. I love it.
I’ve been dying to know this for quite some time. What are the pictures of that are above the couch in your (den?)–the room with the fireplace? I love the series of frames idea for decorating, and I’ve been wondering that for awhile. Maybe there is an old pic posted somewhere that I’ve missed…Thanks!
They’re just black and white family pics (from our wedding, vacations, when we first got Burger, etc) that we had printed black & white at CVS and framed. Hope it helps!
I have a major change coming up as I’m going from the cram-everything-that-I-love-in style that comes with living in a house share to moving into my first grown up flat with my boyfriend.
This is my room now http://annabelvita.com/the-room-where-i-grew I love it all but it’s hectic and cluttered and I can’t wait to have more space to let all my things breathe a little, and also to have a space that feels more “ours” than just mine.
Do you have any tips for sharing decor ?decisions with a partner for the first time?
Hopefully this post will come in handy: https://www.younghouselove.com/email-answer-have-husband-will-decorate/
I love this post, it’s so bright and cheerful (:
And in other news, that green living room of yours from years gone by featured in my dream last night. As in, I dreamt that I came to visit you guys. You know you’re awesome when people dream about you!
And also, I vote that you turn your bedroom into a moonbounce.
That would be so awesome!
We’re going through this in our second house. First one, we loved very much how all the colors we picked fit together-bolder than your style, but still not overwhelming. Then we moved into a “flipped” house where every single wall (including closet interiors) is painted a peachy, beige color. It actually reminds me of the exact color Crayola makes to color in skin of “peach” colored people. Its like I blend into the walls. Slowly but surely, we’re taking back the color of this house and haven’t quite figured out what our design astetic has evolved into. Tearing out LOTS of design mag pics and catalogue images in the meantime.
Can’t wait to see what you do in the next house!
As a little girl, I wanted every room of my future home to be a different color. And now it is. But it’s SO not what I want now. We’re transitioning back into a small palette of muted colors. So long green living room I always wanted.
Seems just like my home paint story… except I haven’t gotten to the point of having a cohesive adult paint story in my home yet. (It would also require bribing my hubby to paint all over again and he thinks it looks just fine…lol)
I think it’s the curse of the designer. We just never want to my a decision because you never know what cute thing you might find next week or the new design direction that just came out and wouldn’t it be oh so perfect?
Designers are just like the contractor… our homes are never done. ;-p
wow it just shows even more what awesome style you have!! can’t wait to see you move into a new house and do your thang!!
This is so funny to read! I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, especially in reading one of the posts during your blogiversary where you referenced the “what were we thinking?” pictures.
I love that! We’ve been in our place for just over three years, and I absolutely loved what we initially did. Now I look at those pictures and think, “Ugh!”. And it was only three years ago!!!
I did the same “must have a grown up house that looks put together and proper” and I realized that took over too much. Now I love the balance that we have – I’ve kept a lot neutrals but adore the pops of colors and personality that we’ve added – I’ve also gotten away from an exacting color scheme that gives me so much more freedom to love what i love. Anyway, *ramble*ramble*ramble.
Love the blog!
I completely agree, I often find myself looking at places like PBTeen, Target, flea markets and even Dwell Studio for a playful things to inject some youth into my house. I bought it in 2006, and I have to say…my tastes are certainly changing. I am now free to embrace the color pink in all her silly glory. Also, there is nothing worse that going into a friends house and finding you have all the same bedding/accessories. Shopping odd places makes it easy to find that those youthful additions often add the suprise and whimsy I crave as I begin the downhill slide to my 37 birthday. God help me, 37…I think I need to sit down!
Erin N. says
My husband and I bought our first home this year, and I’ve been so excited to put our personality into it. My favorite example are vinyl “wall words” in our kitchen that spell “Om nom nom!”
Where did you get the rug in the 6th photo? (the yellow one with a white pattern). I love it!
It’s the Moorish Tile Rug from Pottery Barn (snagged on clearance). Maybe try eBay to find one since PB doesn’t have them anymore?
I was reading an article in a design magazine a while back(can’t remember the name, but probably a Lowe’s one) where they discussed how you can make your house flow in terms of color without sticking to just neutrals. One line that particularly resonated with me was, “Because honestly, who wants to live in a house that looks like toast?” I love that and dream of the day when I’m no longer renting and can paint the walls in color. In the meantime, I’m having fun helping my parents in their “one project a year” tradition and getting them to stray from aged wallpaper and cream towards paint and color (really, it’s like pulling teeth).
Funny you post this…I was just hunting through ModCloth yesterday and wondering how I could justify some of their cute “child like” decorations into my house. I say just do it…it’s YOUR house anyway. If people don’t like it, that’s fine because they don’t have to live there,right…or is this just me trying to justify buying cute stuff?!
We just moved from Los Angeles to Hannover Germany- where it gets dark outside by 3 or 4 pm in the winter! In our last place we had more “mature” & neutral colors with color accent walls here and there. In our new apartment we are embracing color and breaking all sorts of design rules. Almost every room is a different color (complementary, but still). I hated it at first (I’m not great with change), but I now love it. Color is fun, happy and playful. Plus, this will only be a temporary (3-5 years) location for us so why not? We can always re-paint! ; )
Very cool! I think it’s awesome that you have the flexibility to allow your style to evolve and publicly acknowledge said evolution.
Now I think of it, we’ve done something similar. Not so much with color, but with style. When we first got married, we were very drawn to modern, sophisticated, clean-lined furniture and slick fabrics. But we’ve moved to a small town and hope to have a place in the country someday… and I’ve relaxed a little too. It helps reading blogs like yours that reassure me everything doesn’t have to be matchy. I still like clean lines but we’ve mixed in some rustic-looking antiques and rougher textures. The mix really feels like “us” right now.
Same! I originally started painting everything bright, vibrant colors–no surface was safe (walls, furniture, closets, you name it, I painted it a bright color.) Then I started receding into only neutral colors on the walls, because I was tired of repainting everything every six months because the bright paint just wasn’t quite right. But the big change came about when I started reading design blogs, and that’s when I started getting really expensive taste. :-) (At least, I would like to have expensive taste. I can’t quite afford the stuff I want. But I have big dreams.)
And now I am in a neutrals for paint and upholstered furniture phase. Bright curtains and pillows ok. Fairly simple, not too bright rugs. Lots of white painted furniture. None of my furniture has come from the same box store, and I have a large amount of thrifted/craigslisted furniture. I think (as I approach my late thirties) I’ve finally identified my style and got a sort of formula I’m happy with.
Chatelaine B says
I’m feeling the same way but am still pushing myself over the hump of adding color. I know color is what i’m craving since i feel like we’re living in brown/tan poop explosion and it’s making me crazy. but i get so nervous in the act of adding color because ‘what if i spend all the money on changing it and i still dont like it’. i need to figure out how to do it cost effectively and slowly so i don’t hyperventilate.
but yes, i need color, no more brown poop fest!
That does help! Thanks–my husband is a hobby-photographer and I have wanted to do a series of his tree pics!
Have a great weekend!
I had this same realization about a month ago! We bought our house right after we got married, and so even though we were only 23 I think I was subconsciously trying to make the house feel “grown up”. I blame the wedding registry process; it makes you spend so much time trying to pick out things that you’ll love forever. Our house ended up “classic”, like I intended, but a little boring. Two year later, I’m trying to wake it up a bit!
[Also, just wanted to say – relatively new to following y’all’s blog, but loving it so far!]
I can totally related. My fiance and I are “fresh” out of college, and he’s now a grad student. We’re sorta in the “growing up” stage right now, where we’re trying to get nicer furniture and re-vamp and re-purpose the not-so-great furniture we have now so it fits more with our ideal style. We’re working in our living room first, and taking things room by room. It will be a constant evolution, but we’re having fun!
My Fiance and I bought our first house last year and I have been noticing that it is looking like an older couple lives there instead of a young early 2 couple. but when I see things with color I have been resisting the temptation to buy it because I am afraid our house will look to childish. Its like I am trying to prove we are grown up by having a boring sterile house..lol
Woah. Totally can relate to this. When we first moved in (to a very rural area) everyone and their mother decorated rustic country. So, we decided we would too. Bad move. Just not us… and dark colors made our house seem even smaller. Then I was so frustrated with the darks that I went totally crazy and painted our rooms every color of the rainbow. Thankfully, now we’ve found our style and everything seems more cohesive. I’ve learned a lot from your blog. I’m indebted to you guys!
Wow this makes me so happy! I never realized that your design style was getting “younger” but I must say that I have been liking it a little more lately because of the fun pops of color and the touches of whimsy. I’m drawn to those things (I am only 21 so I suppose that makes some sense) but I know plenty of bloggers who have these things in their homes and it does not look childish but it looks fun and it does create a more kid-friendly atmosphere. I always think of the styles I like (there are a lot), but I usually end up with bright colors in small pops and a good amount of neturals. I thought maybe I need to outgrow my childish design-tendencies but this just makes me realize that these spaces are all about happiness and what is more happy than our youth? I am glad you two are changing up your style a little bit and letting yourselves act a little young and crazy (from a design perspective, of course :P ).
We went through the EXACT same thing — our first apartments (which we weren’t supposed to paint but did) had the same throw different/bright-colors-up-on-the-wall feel. When we bought our condo, I insisted every room be a shade of off-white or gray because I wanted sofisticated and clean. In the last year or so we’ve added some more punches of color, also staring in the nursery and then an accent wall (hard to pull off and well-done in our case if I do say so myself). Right now I’m loving mixing fabric in lieu of paint, such as a back/white check pillows on a sofa in a room that has a blue/green/yellow rug of a totally different style. It’s looking like it’s more like personal, fun taste and less like our rooms were plucked out of a catalog.
We’ve been going through the same thing at our place. Our house is 100 years old and when we bought it 3 years ago, we tried to stick with traditional colors and furniture choices for fear of clashing with the beautiful historic elements of the house. Last year, we bought a new sofa and chair from Crate and Barrel, while we still stayed with a pretty classic color, the lines of the couch made us realize we could inject a little modern into our home. So we’ve been replacing things here in there with more fun and modern accents. Right now, I’m on the lookout for bold patterned curtains for our dinning room :)
Uh, yes. When my husband and I started house searching, we wanted a 20’s-40’s house. We actually found one completely untouched, but ended up deciding to move from that town. When we did find our fixer upper, it was a 1953 California Ranch with a flat roof. Honestly, we walked up on it the first time and thought, oh gosh- this is ugly. Maybe we can afford it. However, we bought it, and have totally fallen in love with this style. Wonderfully large open rooms, two floor to ceiling stone fireplaces (the entire length of the living room/dining room!) Now, instead of 20-40s style… we’re going mid century modern… and have fallen head over heels in love with the style. (Can’t even tell you how many pieces of iconic furniture we drool over, and hopefully one day will be able to save up for!) Someone suggested to us recently that we could still use some of the more traditional styled furniture in our house if we wanted to. The weird thing is though, we don’t.. at all! Strange how things change!!
Melanie Beth says
This is so exactly where I am right now…my husband and I had lived in our condo for several years… and it showed how young we were! I think it was the addition of our little Matthew that made me realize we are NOT kids anymore, so why does our house look like we are? Anyway… I’ve spend the last 6 months working on making it look like actual adults are living here! Love your inspiration… and seeing that you started out where we are now, so there’s hope for us yet!
When I bought my house last summer I had all these ideas of what I wanted each room to look like so I went ahead and painted almost all of them. Then the creative block settled in and I realized I was decorating to what I thought looked good in the magazines and such. I’m slowly redesigning the rooms to my own individual style now after I’ve lived in, and learned what I like. That would definitely be my advice to anyone decorating a newly purchased house…live in it for a while before you decide how you want to decorate each room.
Me too! Exact same thing – the day I closed on my house I slapped some bright yellow paint up in the living room, blue paint in the kitchen, green paint in the hallway, orange paint in the bathroom, etc. Now two years later, every single room has been repainted (in calmer colors) to make the whole house more cohesive and less rubik’s cube!
Totally feel ya. As soon as we got married, I needed to shop for furniture IMMEDIATELY. Over the last year and 3 months I’ve changed every room in the condo to some degree except for the kitchen. And I’m not done yet!
Maybe you have just laid a nice calm neutral in your home that is a nice canvas to add a little punch and fun into it. Also, I think style trends are moving more toward whimsical and fun rather than classic right now. Our house is kind of all over the place when it comes to this. We went crazy with color at first too… now we are sort of in the middle.
We went color-crazy at first – our guest bathroom is granny-smith-apple-green with a deep red accent wall. Then we painted our bedroom gray.
Now we’re starting to contemplate our (huge!) living room. He wants blue, I want something neutral – not too builder-beige, but probably something between your background (the solid bit, not the stripey bit) and light brown sugar. I’m seriously tempted to dye our curtains a deep red and add a fun accent boarder to make them a little longer, but that’ll be one of the last things I do in the room. I guess overall we’re managing to strike the balance between too much and too little color.
Christa M says
In my 20s I did the whole neutral, bland and matchy matchy thing with all brand new furnishings and decor.
I’ve since sold everything and have purchased mostly garage sale/thrift store furnishings and decor. I’m having a great time finding treasures here and there….the only problem was that it took a long time for it to start to look complete, it’s definitely getting there now though.
So I’ve decided….I need color in my life. I don’t mind my place looking like an early 20-something lives there. It’s me and I am comfortable.
I’m totally with yall! When we bought our first house 2 1/2 years ago, I wanted it to look like adults lived here so I stuck with muted toned down colors and picked a color scheme of blues, greens, and browns. I wanted to shift away from my bold colors of my college art school years. This past year though I have been going crazy and even my college roomate who visited said, “It looks like an old lady lives here.” Thats a little too grown up for me. I realized that I love bright colors so I’m slowly adding in alot of oranges and other brights (in accent pieces) and everything is so much more cheery and homey…and Me!