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HOMEBODY: Trying to decorate a house is stressful

Millicent McKay is a year into living in a home with her partner. She has learned a lot and plans to share that knowlegde with Homes readers.
Millicent McKay is a year into living in a home with her partner. She has learned a lot and plans to share that knowledge with Homes readers.

Who remembers being a little kid (no, that’s not the question, be patient) and going with their parents to the hardware store when said parental units were looking to paint their house? During that trip, did you ever make a beeline to the paint chips colours that had names that sounded like yummy treats — something with cotton candy or bubble gum for instance.

I personally was a sucker for the ones that looked like the outline of Mickey Mouse (great job Disney — you deserve kudos for that).

Now, a decade and some later, my affinity for paint chips is still very real — this time for much more muted tones and off whites.

Now where was the point I was getting to?

Oh, right.

At the end of August, it will be one year since I moved out of my parents’ house and into a home with my partner.

Let’s just say — DIYs aren’t as easy as Instagram says, YouTube is your greatest resource and I still don’t know what my esthetic is ...

But I’ll be darned if I don’t figure it out and try new do-it-yourselves (or disasters, as I call them).

Enter my first home sweet home.

OK, trying to decorate a house is stressful, let alone decorating it so all of the people living there will like it too. Now, I would have been fine with various shades of white, but colour was mandatory — at least in some sections of the house (living room, bedroom, kitchen).

One thing I realized quickly, you want everyone living there to feel at home. So if it means only little personal touches, I’m sure you can find the perfect frame that speaks to you, wacky looking garbage can or what have you.

When it comes to compromises, try these tips:

  • Pick your battles. Is there one room you’d rather have more say in decorating than another? Well if you give someone more control over one room, you can exhibit the same control over another.
  • Seek out a happy medium. OK, so you’ve decided on a colour. You want light shades, your partner wants something with a bit more punch. Is there a shade in between that you both agree on?
  • Accept an eclectic style if your tastes aren’t the same as those you live with.
  • Try to keep community areas neutral, but make bedrooms or office workspaces personalized.

But there’s so much more than painting (lots of painting) to the first-home experience:

  • Furnishing the place — like duh!: Sadly, furniture doesn’t grow on trees, even though it seemed so easy to make choices when your parents were getting the items for your room in their house.
  • Cutlery and dishware: I was fortunate enough to have a lot of this passed down to me. There was a set of plates my mom never used that I took for myself, for instance.
  • Linens: Finding things that “match” your paint colours that are also soft and comfortable, easy to care for — i.e. there’s no big issue if you don’t tumble dry the item — and that you actually like.
  • Decor: Paintings, picture frames, knick-knacks, vases and every other miscellaneous item.

Whew, I need a minute, I’m feeling overwhelmed. And as a first-timer to this, it’s easy to feel that way.

You don’t want to fail at that major-scale DIY ... you don’t want to waste money on a bed frame or couch that it turns out you hate ... you don’t know what speaks to you so you have a millions things to put in your home, but you don’t want any of it ...

But there’s a lot to learn along the way too, lot’s of it is experiential (like how I took a table from the side of the road and gave it a new life), some of it is tedious (organizing cupboards), and understanding how you want your home to feel (obviously we want it to feel like home, but how to do we get there?)

These are all still things I’m grappling with. Are you?

Well, if you are, how about you join me on this homemaking journey? I’ll try (and probably fail) things so you don’t have to, let you know what I’ve learned and hopefully provide you with some insight or inspiration along the way.

Millicent McKay is a Summerside-based journalist, columnist and blogger. She’s new to this interior decorating and making a house a home gig – happy home-ing.

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