My husband Jacob and I have been married for about 10 months now, so I guess, technically we are still “newlyweds.”
About six months ago we moved from our first house, a three-bedroom rental in East Tupelo, to our current house in Verona, which actually used to be Jacob’s grandparents’ house.
Fast-forward through a project-filled spring and summer and it finally feels like our home.
During that period of time I’ve been a home-blog-reading, furniture rearranging, online-shopping maniac. Just ask my husband, who has been subjected to multiple lengthy conversations about rug sizes and prices.
Disclaimer: I’ve made some mistakes.
I’ve bought some things that didn’t work, but I’ve also developed a much better sense of mine and Jacob’s personal styles.
Which brings me to why I’m writing this, so that you overwhelmed newlyweds embarking on the journey of decorating your first home can come together to create your own super-couple-interior-design style, probably on a budget.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading blogs by people with beautiful homes, so I guess you could call me an expert.
When we began decorating our house, we took inventory of what we needed and what we already had and tried to use as much of what we had as possible.
Our new house is bigger than our old one, so we did make some purchases – a coffee table here, a rug there – but nothing crazy.
What, to me, makes a house feel like home is the story told through it. I wanted our house to feel meaningful, so many of the items in our home were brought home from travels or are hand-me-downs from family members who have storage units full of kick-ass antiques.
The houndstooth chair in our den originally sat just a hundred or so feet away in the living room when Jacob’s grandparents lived in our house. Not only do I love the chair itself, but I like that it remains as a reminder of the house’s history.
(There is also a metal barrel bolted to the driveway in which, legend has it, Jacob’s grandmother burned her bras during the feminist revolution of the ‘70s.)
In the guest room, there’s a bed frame carved from chestnut wood that’s been passed down through my dad’s side of the family and my mom’s childhood white dresser, now chipped to reveal layers of blue and yellow paint from her youth.
In our bedroom a large German map of Europe hangs above the bed, brought home from World War II by Jacob’s grandfather. The first chest of drawers I remember having as a child sits next to the bed, and across from it, a beveled mirror and authentic mid-century dresser from my grandmother’s house.
Throughout the house are also the scattered pieces of a 1960s living room set purchased by Jacob’s paternal grandparents in their first year of marriage.
We’ve supplemented those sentimental pieces with some big-box-store items to give the space some modern flair as well as with furniture found through online classifieds and antique and thrift stores.
Bringing furniture from different eras together was a little daunting at first, but I love the hodge-podge, and I think it works.
I’ve also tried to incorporate touches of nature throughout – a gallery wall of botanical prints and landscapes, a vase filled with sea shells collected at the beach, dried flowers – that serve as nice points of contrast to some of the more modern elements in our home.
What I’ve learned is that if you want to create a home you’ll love, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to be yourself.
There are lots of practical pearls of wisdom I could dish out here, but I think the best thing to do is fill your house with things that feel true to who you are as a couple.
If you’re not into a certain trend, skip it. Splurge on an investment piece that you really love. If you’re on a tight budget, embrace it. Shop at thrift stores, take a chair home off of the side of the road and don’t be afraid to tackle a DIY project (Paint is your friend!).
Be responsible when it comes to money, of course, and DIY within your limits, but don’t feel like there’s any “right” way to decorate. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start digging through your neighbor’s trash. Author’s note: I said “I” a lot in this essay, but Jacob has a great eye as well. I would’ve done better to heed his advice throughout my decorating. We would have fewer holes in our walls if I had.