Just Paint the Room:: Permission from a Decorator

Hey there mom, I see you balancing all the things. Maybe it’s more than usual right now with this dreaded pandemic. Or maybe Covid-19 has just laid bare the roles you’ve carried all along:: head-chef, educational facilitator, mental health provider, judge and jury, tech support, housekeeper, dog-walker, potty trainer, boo-boo kisser, and just general “how’s everyone feeling?” well-being-monitor.

On top of all of this, you may be working from home now, too. Whether you’re homeschooling, virtual schooling, or even if you’ve developed a somewhat normal routine, I’ve noticed that our homes have really had to work for us lately. Last March when everything changed, playrooms quickly converted into offices, dining tables transformed into classrooms. Once minimally used spaces became heavily trafficked daily outposts. We’re looking at our homes differently and asking how they can function better for our families.

Purpose AND Beauty

And yet, even in this change of purpose, I find myself still wanting my house to look good. This isn’t some well-oiled machine or assembly line factory built for efficient production and consumption. This is our home. I want to be comfortable and I want to be surrounded by colors, pictures, and even things that I love. I want my home to “spark joy” to quote the inspirational Marie Kondo. And, truly, who doesn’t need an extra spark of joy lately?

It’s this marriage of purpose and beauty that as a decorator, excites me the most when thinking about a space. How can this room both look and feel good? How can my home provide workspaces for us all but still be a place where we all feel at ease, comfortable, and surrounded by what we love?

I get it. It’s hard to prioritize this when we have so much on our plates. We look at the big blank walls and don’t know where to start. I’ve been there too. The builder-beige has lost its charm and you think it’s finally time for something new. You start researching colors on Pinterest, maybe even pick up some paint swatches from the hardware store. You tape them on the wall, perhaps even go so far as to buy some sample cans and paint a few spots. But now, they sit, waiting for a decision to be made because WHO CAN DECIDE BETWEEN GRAY DOVE AND DOVE GRAY when there are 18 million other decisions and needs that feel so much more pressing?

Just Paint the Room:: Permission from a Decorator

Decision fatigue,” a term coined by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, explains this phenomenon. When we’re making decisions all day long, no matter how big or small they are, our capacity for deciding something that feels as frivolous as a paint color gets pushed to some other time, or in many cases, never.

Sometimes it isn’t just fatigue but also self-doubt. We want to change up our homes, hang pictures, and paint walls, but just aren’t sure if we’re qualified or if we’re making the “right” decision. When I was working as a decorator, it was interesting to me that so often what a client really needed was a simple affirmation. You already have great ideas and know what you like and want to do in your home, you just need to maybe bounce some ideas off someone, receive an all-clear, a permission slip to go for it! Trusting our gut can be hard sometimes.

Painting Walls = Self Care?

The Happiness Research Institute conducted a study a couple of years ago to determine the factors that make people feel the happiest with their homes. Surprisingly, things like the size of a house and even home-ownership were not highly correlated with happiness at all. The highest on the list was actually pride in one’s home! The researchers found that people who are proudest of their homes are also the happiest with them. This comes from the feeling of achievement you gain after investing time and energy into home-improvement. And I don’t mean like major Young House Love type renovation projects. Just painting walls, rearranging, and organizing can spark a well of pride and happiness in your home! They also found that having adaptable spaces can contribute to happiness- and aren’t we all just trying our hardest to make our homes adaptable lately? You can read the report here if you’d like. I found it fascinating!

It makes me feel so good to know that when we put some care and thought into how our homes look and work, it actually contributes to our well-being and happiness. It’s a form of self-care and who doesn’t love that?!

Just Paint the Room:: Permission from a Decorator

Just Paint the Room

So, from a decorator, fellow mom, and friend, here’s my permission slip and encouraging mantra for you today:: Just Paint the Room. It’ll be good for you! Sure, start with the swatches and paint samples, it’s a great first step. But don’t stop there! Don’t wait for the perfect color to download to your brain or the perfect time or some blogger or Instagrammer to tell you their favorite paint color {trust me on this because I’ve done it before, and it did NOT pan out- colors look different in different lighting and different rooms, etc}. Do you have a blank wall and pictures ready to hang? Lay them out on the floor, start eyeballing things and then get after it with your hammer and nails. Maybe it won’t be perfect, but it will be better than nothing and you will have made the decision. You will have taken a step toward cultivating your environment, taking pride in your space, and creating a home that is both purposeful and beautiful to you.

Sometimes we’ve just got to give ourselves the permission we need to take a few risks and make a few mistakes! Maybe one day you’ll end up repainting or you’ll put in a few too many nail holes, but I can promise you that happens even to the pros. The resulting pride and happiness you create will far outweigh the risks. You can do this! Just go for it. 


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Bethany, the daughter of an army chaplain and a special education teacher, grew up moving every 2-3 years. She considers herself an introvert who had to learn how to make friends quickly! She met her Houstonian husband, Paul, in college and they married in 2004. They first settled just north of Houston, where she earned her master's degree at Sam Houston State in School Psychology. After working in public education for a couple of years, she decided to stay home full time with their children, Charlie {2008}, Norah {2010}, and Will {2013}. The family moved to Katy in 2012, where they’ve been ever since. She loves decorating and even had her own small business for a while. She also loves to read, binge-watch old TV shows, talk politics and enneagram, and will not turn down a cup of strong coffee or a good conversation with a friend.

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