Whenever I see an airy, uncluttered room with every thing in its place on a blog, I like to picture what’s going on behind the scenes — I imagine that they’ve moved all of their real belongings over to the side of the room behind the photographer. In my mind, one half of that room is in chaos. So I was keen to speak to the owner of one such bedroom, Valerie Wildes of the blog Mint + Varnish. Valerie was full of insightful tips on how to choose, store and purge the things in your home for a more serene space. She recently moved with her husband from this open loft to a bungalow, and in navigating those challenges she learned some valuable lessons that she was willing to share with us.
With the neverending supply of inspiration in our feeds today, it’s easy to fall in (and out of) love with a new look every week. Valerie says she’s “over having trends in my house or my wardrobe, they always go away, you’ll look back at pictures and see that it’s not who you are, it’s just what everyone else is doing. So that’s something I try to stay away from. I just want to find the core of my style and slowly build on that.”
Wondering where that amazing bed came from? I was too. Valerie found a local furniture maker and designed it with him, “I wanted to make sure there was hidden storage in the bed. Storage was a big requirement for me, so after finding the bed I found the large shelf. I wanted everything to be to be really natural, handmade, and match.”
Building a piece to your exact specifications may cost more, but you end up with a piece that will last, and you won’t want to replace it in a couple of years.
Looking at Valerie’s room, what struck me was how serene and free of clutter it was – despite being a wide open space with nowhere to hide her things.
“Because it was an open space where friends and family could come in and really see everything, it was important to have vertical storage. The closet that’s on the right came with the unit, and that worked perfectly for us. That was a really helpful tool that I don’t think I would have thought of right away on my own.”
Be patient with the process
If you haven’t found your core style yet, don’t be hard on yourself. It’s a long process, even for an interior designer! “When I was studying design I was exposed to so many different styles that I think it took me even longer to find myself in them.” Valerie recommends pulling images, colors and textures that you love. The next step is to carefully consider whether each image is something you will still feel excited about in a few years, and remove the images you don’t feel positive about. This culling process can help clarify your vision.
The painting above the bed was gifted by Valerie’s brother in law. Here is a similarly striking portrait.
Less is more
I admit I’ve fallen into the trap of lusting after an item – a new pair of sandals, a Moroccan rug, a juicer – and feeling completely convinced that my life will be markedly better with that thing in it. But consider this: we may actually be happier with one less thing to store, use and maintain.
“With this bedroom, I really felt like it was the one area in the loft where I felt the happiest, and I think that was because it had the least amount of things in it. I guess the lesson is that I feel happiest when I have the least.”
Lamp, West Elm
Keep what’s meaningful, get rid of the rest
Whether it’s an Amazon Prime spree, gifts or hand-me-downs, it’s shocking how rapidly a home can fill up. Valerie learned her lesson from living in other places, “Once I moved in I’d buy things just to have them and to fill the space. Things build slowly over time, until you look around and realize that you don’t actually need a quarter or more of the things you own for your daily routine.”
Sound familiar? It may be time to grab a copy of the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and get to work. Then be vigilant about only letting things into your home that are meaningful to you.
Don’t buy anything spontaneously
This is a tough one, but if you want your room to feel thoughtful and intentional, then it’s important to think through every single purchase. Valerie grills herself when she shops, “Do I really really love this or in 6 months am I going to love something else? If I find something and continue to think about it for the next two weeks, then maybe it is the right fit, then I can decide whether or not to go back and buy it. So I say don’t buy anything spontaneously.”