One of the most impactful ways I’ve been able to reflect on all that has happened in my life is to revisit what I’ve written, the music I’ve listened to, and how I’ve lived in my homes. Looking back on these experiences brings up feelings and memories that I otherwise would have forgotten. (Which reminds me… I need to write things down more often!)
Today I’m reflecting on my design tendencies in the past four homes I’ve lived in and assigning three words to each one.
My three words for this home’s design: eclectic, cozy, and playful.
My first solo apartment was all about learning to have—and enjoy—a place of my own. Here, I learned what it meant to care for a home and bring it to life. I learned that the act of designing a home is not frivolous, but a way of practicing self-care.
In this apartment, I began to stretch my design muscles. I bought a new couch for the living room and everything else was from Facebook Marketplace, a thrift store, or a hand-me-down from friends and family. Even with my small budget, here I learned that designing a place just for you can be so fulfilling.
My first solo apartment was all about learning to have—and enjoy—a place of my own. . . . Here I learned that designing a place just for you can be so fulfilling.
My three words for this home’s design: eclectic and cozy with pops of color.
When Joe and I moved into this apartment, I thought to myself, it’s so new—when what I really wanted was an old-school loft with history and character. To contrast the modern structure, I brought in more vintage elements and furniture.
In this apartment, I experimented with design elements and tried to figure out what my “grown-up” interior design style was. I tried to balance my taste with Joe’s design wants, which I learned were mostly about functionality. Even now, I can look back at this apartment and see similarities to my current design sensibilities, although this modern apartment is a world away from our very traditional home now.
My three words for this home’s design: classic, airy, and punctuated with modernity.
This was the first house Joe and I purchased. We spent a lot of money on home updates while living here. We put $200K into various renovations, which we recouped when we sold it in 2020.
The square footage was relatively small at 1,700 square feet (2,200 square feet once we redid the basement) and we completely reimagined the layout. What I learned in this house was the value of really thoughtfully-planned smaller spaces. Here, I tried to find the intersection between what the heart wants and what is right for the home itself.
When I look back at this house, I see the way I was starting to use colors, particularly in smaller rooms. I selected bright wallpapers for two of the bathrooms and painted the office cobalt blue. The undercurrent of craving more color was already beginning to present itself in my design tendencies.
My three words for this home’s design: colorful, eclectic, and cozy.
We have always wanted to live in the neighborhood we’re living in now. When the opportunity came up to buy this house, it felt like kismet. When we actually moved into the house in May 2020, I was in the midst of questioning who I was. I was really burnt out with social media and was trying to deal with the weight of the pandemic.
This has been a home where I’ve taken bigger design risks than I had in the past. It’s the home where I borrowed and built upon a lot of the inspiration that was already here. In this house, I’ve tried out the far end of what my dream world might look like. It’s been a real gift to experiment more with color and pattern and has helped build my confidence in the process. My personal style and how I approach interior design are so much clearer to me now—that’s what this house has given me.
My personal style and how I approach interior design are so much clearer to me now—that’s what this house has given me.
Out of all the things I’ve come to understand about my personal interior design style while living here, it’s that I like spaces that feel warm. It’s one of the most common things people who visit our home say—that it feels cozy and warm. That, I’m learning, is a consistent through line in terms of what I’m drawn to in the design world.
BY Kate Arends - January 18, 2023
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.