Let me start from the beginning.
Some women dream of their wedding day when they’re girls, but not me. I was dreaming about renovating kitchens. And bathrooms. And bedrooms. This week, that dream is coming true; we’re kicking off the first phase of our home renovation! We have a whole series planned for you this summer (including videos!) but before we start, I want to talk about why this project almost didn’t get off the ground, and how we’re going to be covering the process.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved designing interiors. I soaked up Trading Spaces like a sponge and challenged myself to my own one-day decor makeover on my 10′ x 10′ bedroom. You can still see the spots of paint on our carpeting, marking each time I flip-flopped from one style to the next. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I wanted to make things and play with space.
When I was in college and decided to forego interior design for graphic design, I still collected the pages from glossy magazines, opting for Domino and Elle Decor instead of Vogue or Cosmo. I collected my inspiration in big black binders, preserving the pages in plastic sheets and making notes on post-its. When I graduated, I hauled them up to Minneapolis. I now realize that these big binders were my own physical Pinterest page.
So, here we are. Years after design school and many more years of soul-searching, I’m still collecting. It’s fitting that Pinterest is where Wit & Delight’s biggest following remains, because it’s been my longest-held hobby; I’ve always been collecting, editing, and looking for inspiration. When I was eighteen, I couldn’t have imagined the amount of inspiration that would be available to me, at any time of day. It’s an enormously important thing for any creative, to see many things and to be inspired. So what was so different about collecting ideas for this remodel? Why was I feeling so overwhelmed? What about it felt heavy? How could I reclaim my love for the inspiration rabbit hole again?
I realized I needed to reconcile that inspiration and reality are often at odds. When I looked deeper, what excites me and what’s right for my life don’t always match up. For the first time, I understood why some brides have a horrible time planning their weddings. With all that energy spent dreaming of the possibilities, how can we ever possibly live up to our own expectations? Once our dreams have a price tag, how do we deal with the letdown? There had to be a way to dream big without the reality hangover.
The creative process includes a tipping point where we funnel ALL our inspiration and possibilities through a series of filters, requirements, and objectives. These filters and objectives are what connect aesthetics and beauty with function and purpose. Without them, we have a loose definition of art. Over the years, I’ve come to seek out these constraints. If you have the right variables to work with, you can focus more intently on the opportunity to make 1 + 1 = 100. It’s what makes creative expression most effective as a tool, a message, a weapon, a Trojan Horse.
This old house is not my design project. It’s not Instagram and Pinterest content. This old house is where my story, Joe’s story, our story unfolds.
Enter my “ah-ha!” remodel moment. This old house is not my design project. It’s not Instagram and Pinterest content. This old house is where my story, Joe’s story, our story unfolds. It reminds me of where we’ve been: our two years of marriage; how we learned to live with each other; when Winnie was eight pounds. It also reminds me of where we are going: career changes; leaps of faith; moments when we fall apart and come back together. It’s a story that doesn’t stand still. Our house is our sandbox to create in, a piece of the earth we own and can do with what we will. As we move forward and become wiser and better with age, so will the walls that hold us. We build our homes to enjoy the lives we have, not the ones we hope to lead.
Everything began to fall into place after that. We cut things out to ensure we met our savings goal. We made practical decisions where the investment wouldn’t pay off. We communicated what was important to us, as a couple. We grew closer.
We can all thank Pinterest for helping us dream a little broader and ultimately see more inspiration than we ever have before. It’s easy to become enchanted by someone else’s version of reality when we’re so familiar with our own. We find drive and energy and vision from our dreams, but it’s in our realities—right here, right now, just as we are—that contentment and peace can be found.
As we kick off this series, you’ll see plenty of inspiration and pretty things, but the crux is about how we can make improvements to the way we’re already living. We’ve taken footage of the house pre-construction, with no art direction, styling, props, or flowers. Piles of papers and junk drawers, dry morning cereal, and coffee in mismatched mugs.
I’m proud of our mess, who we are as a couple, with our averageness. This certainly won’t be ground-breaking content, and maybe some of you won’t find it all that interesting. The point is the unremarkable matters a great deal to each of us. For it is in the remarkably unremarkable parts of life we discover what we just might actually need.
BY Kate Arends - May 20, 2015
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.