When I was growing up, we used to pack our stuff and move every 2 years or so, sometimes even before that. My dad was in the air force in Pakistan, and we lived in all types of houses. From Quetta where we lived in an almost antique hut-ish house with scorpions running around (yes, scary). To Karachi where we lived for almost a year in a small temporary housing which didn’t even have a proper kitchen, and then moved to a long corridor of a house that had served as a hospital at some point in the second world war. To Peshawer where our growing family of five lived in a tiny American style 2 bed, 1 bath rambler. And many many more such homes which were probably far from my parents’ dream homes.
But one thing was common in all these homes, my mom decorated them with more love than possible. She would creatively disguise and cover up all the ugly corners. She would divide rooms into more rooms with her arrangements, whenever and wherever the need be. She would fill up the walls with beautiful art that she made herself or that she had collected. And every season she would change it all up. Meanwhile my dad, who loved his gadgets, would make sure that our house was well connected, the computers, the phones, the TVs, the intercoms, and later on the internet etc. And together they made the unlivable, very very livable! In short, we saw our parents loving these temporary, sometimes ugly, places that were our homes. And so when moving day arrived and we had to say goodbye to what had been our home, we would be in tears.
This is something I have been thinking about a lot. In these times, it is very easy to keep dreaming about our perfect homes. We can watch home network TV all day. We can drool over design magazines and design blogs and keep this ever growing mental list of all the things that we want in our house. We hear it all the time, what the latest trends are and what is outdated. And that is fine, trust me, I love my design blogs and all. They’re the biggest source of inspiration for myself. But it’s just that sometimes this dream gets in the middle of enjoying our own homes and most of all, loving our own homes.
Because of how I have been raised, I really believe in the power of decorating with love. I believe that these spaces, these little dwellings that we spend a major part of our days and nights in - should be close to our hearts. I believe that whatever space you live in, be it rented, a tiny apartment, an old even ‘outdated’ (so called) home, can be made beautiful when decorated with love. And that if we love our homes, if they make us happy, if they’re totally ‘us’; then it doesn’t matter what style it is or isn’t and what features it has or doesn’t.
I thought I’d share a couple of tips I’ve learned from my parents and that mean the most to me when I decorate our little place.
1. Surround yourselves with things you love
For us that means lots of art, lots of photo memories, books and tied together with gifts from loved ones and flowers to liven it all up. I love having things around that remind us of a precious memory, of our loved ones or just of things that inspire the creativity in us.
This little truck was a gift from Bilal’s nephew and reminds us of our family and our roots at the same time. It proudly sits on our mantle these days.
I love sunflowers or just flowers in general. I try to have some around the house at any given time.
We do not travel a lot but when we do we make sure to pick up some artwork as a reminder of some vacation memories.
I also love all things bright and colorful. So I surround myself with all the color I can squeeze in, because it really makes a grey Seattle day much cheerful for me.
Our hallway art wall (that photographs awkward because of the tight space in front of it), is a collection of collected art as well as some made by family. It keeps changing as the mood strikes.
The DIY wreath project for the front door.
The DIY picture wall in the dining area.
I believe something happens when you make something with your own hands, when you do a home project yourself. I am so inspired by people who are able to take on home improvement projects on their own. As for myself, I love doing little DIY's and using what I make around the house. These days, we have such easy access to fantastic DIY ideas, making it even easier. Spend some time on Pinterest and find a project you'd like to try. Make sure you don't get lost in the world of ideas though (like I do, so often). If its your first project, start small. And if you’re a pro, the sky is the limit.
If you are new to DIY-ing, don’t be intimidated. Start really small, I myself am mostly good at smaller projects since I don't have much patience for projects that last more than a day (nor do I have the talent for bigger projects I think).
The best thing about many of these projects is that they're inexpensive and if you don't like how they turn out, you easily throw what you made and start another project.
I promise you, every time you pass by that lovingly handmade item, you will fall in love.
3. Make happy memories/Start traditions
Something that is very important to me, more so now that I am a mother is the power of family traditions and memories. I am myself still working on this. Some traditions can automatically become a part of your home life and others can be easily incorporated.
For spring, I love bringing in some cherry blossom branches.
For me, crisp white linen says SUMMER.
Change your bedding to white for Summer. Celebrate spring with flowers in the house. Plan birthday surprises for your loved ones. Decorate your house up for celebrations. Stop missing how things worked at your parents home and start making your own little traditions for own little family. Skype with your family every Eid, put a little Pakistan flag up for Independence day. Watch a favorite show cuddled up on the couch. Have a family cooking night, Arrange coffee parties for your girlfriends in winters. Have friends over for lunch/or tea or snacks. Celebrate the first snow of the season with coffee in bed, or coffee by the fireplace, Use a tripod and take a family picture when everyone is dressed up for any occasion. If you have kids and they’re old enough, have a family movie night complete with popcorns every Saturday where the kids get to pick a movie. Every spring or summer or winter, have one meal in your backyard. Whatever works for you. Find out what inspires you and make your own little traditions.
Decorating the house for Eid ul Azha 2011
Celebrating Anya turning one.
Because we probably wont remember how our houses were decorated twenty or thirty years from today, we'll only remember what we did in these houses, we'll only remember the memories we made! And because a house with happy memories is a beautiful home.
4. Change it up
It is probably human nature that we easily get bored with the same things. So when you start feeling that way about your place, of if its starting to not excite you or make you as happy anymore, it is time to change it up! You could even change things every season. That doesn’t necessarily mean going on another shopping spree in search of more items. Better yet is looking at what you’ve got with a new eye. I love moving objects around our home. The mantle in our living area is my favorite place to change every couple weeks or months.
The easiest way to change up a room is with cushions, art, and decorative items. And if your larger items are pretty neutral, they are also the easiest way to completely change the color scheme for your room. These changes hardly require any big investments and they renew your love for your home.
Mantles are easy to change up. I change mine every few months.
5. Work around it
We all have problem areas in our homes, areas that are a challenge to decorate. Some of us have updates we’d love to do, but cannot take on at that particular time and place. We might’ve had to compromise with our husbands in purchasing items we don’t necessarily love. That is when you got to learn to work around what you’ve got.
My mom has always been the queen of this and my biggest inspiration for this.
We haven’t been able to update our kitchen or bathrooms yet but I don’t let that bother me too much (of course that doesn’t stop me from dreaming:p). I love filling them up with art and color and beautiful items that take the attention away from other areas!
I accessorize my kitchen with happy little items to distract from the other not so attractive features:p
Our 2nd bathroom and my love of collected branches as well as some art.
Do you have any ideas or suggestions of your own to add to this list? I would love to hear them.
Thanks for stopping by!