Are there pages full in that notebook of yours, the one that bears your house’s address and contains its strengths and deficiencies? If our houses are becoming home, this is were to start.
You might find yourself nervous about what’s next. Because what IS next? It’s dive right into that deficiencies list, surely, and begin ticking things off one by one, because the whole idea here is to fix what needs fixing and bring your house to home, right?
Yes. But not yet, loves.
First, let’s just sit awhile, take a breath. Thankfully, we’re not going to tackle that list just yet. First we’ve got some gathering to do. Some learning to do. Some discovering to do. This structure in which you live? It’s not just anyone’s home; it’s yours. It’s meant to embrace you and welcome you, and also reflect you. But how can you make it all that if you don’t yet know who you are? How can you know what direction is best unless you know where you’re headed?
We’ll leave that notebook closed for a while, leave the list quiet for a time. Because building a visual reference library, your personal descriptor, is next. If you’ve never looked at a collage of images that call your heart right out and make your breath catch, you’re in for a treat.
First, though, some guidance. As you go through this experience, keep all the mental gates open. Set all notions of budget aside. Set all realities of your current house’s size and style aside. Set aside pre-conceived ideas of what you think you like. Set aside, for now, the furniture, art, and accessories that you already own (even if they’re grandma’s priceless antiques). Don’t fuss or argue about this. Go with me. I’m asking you to trust a clean mental slate. I’m asking you to take your head out of it and let your heart lead. When you do, you’ll find that the images you collect will describe you in a full, deeply visceral way; one that you may not have even known before and one that you could probably not describe with words. First, the images will speak to you, then they’ll speak for you. You’ll see.
And where should we find the images we’re looking for? And how should we keep them? For keeping, I suggest starting a Pinterest account, to which you can add as many pin boards as you’d like, each labeled according to what you’ll pin to it. I’ve labeled mine by room. When you see an image online that you’d like to pin, simply add it to the appropriate pin board. Clients used to bring me folders of magazine tear-outs. That still works, too, if you’re the tactile sort.
For finding, you could obviously type likely key words into a search engine and in an instant have enough images to scroll through for hours. But I recommend an approach more intentional, less scatter-shot: Look where you’ll find representations of excellent work. The online portfolios and Pinterest boards of architects, interior designers, and interior architectural photographers are treasure troves of images that reflect hours, years, and decades of honed skill. Not only do these professionals understand craftsmanship, design, and the beauty of finishes and furnishings, they understand the geometry and the psychology of home. Images of their work give you access to their education, experience, and expertise. You’ll come away with not only a deeper understanding of yourself (you may even meet yourself for the very first time), but with an education in all that home can be.
In all this image-collecting, here’s the key: Don’t make a collection happen; let a collection happen. Don’t over-think it. Simply save the images you respond to. This is not the time for analyzing, scrutinizing, picking apart, or judging what you see. Trust your heart. Something inside you will respond in an instant when your eyes connect with an image that’s for you. Save it. Do this over and over. Everywhere. Don’t worry a bit if an image looks nothing like what you thought you’d choose, or nothing like the last image you saved. Remember, this is not a test that you’ll either pass or fail, this is the experience of finding yourself, then finding your home.
To help you along, I’ve included links here to several designers’, architects’, and interior architectural photographers’ websites that I admire and respect. You can pin images straight from their portfolios, but I’d also suggest that you find their accounts on Pinterest and Instagram and scroll through their boards and feeds (insert rabbit-hole warning here). This is a great way to find more inspiring images as well as links to other images and sources. I’ve included design books written by some of my favorites for you as well.
What will you find?
Victoria Pearson (she shot our home for Country Living magazine)