Curate, Don’t Decorate

Greetings! I’m Sarah Gee, of Sarah Gee Interiors, an interior design studio based right here in SOMA. I am so happy to be the newest Inhabit Your Home contributor – it’s such a wonderful online community and an incredible resource for both practical advice and inspiration. It will be my pleasure to weigh in on all things interior design!

I am a firm believer in the William Morris saying “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” With that said, I live with kids and pets and a bit of family mayhem, so I know that this can be a struggle – especially in the early years of homeownership. Because of this, I have adopted a philosophy I call Curate, Don’t Decorate, and it’s all about creating beautiful spaces over time. 

This Maplewood dining room is a mix of inherited family pieces, items brought from another life in Brooklyn, and a few key pieces purchased especially for the space that tie it all together.

So many of us start out our suburban lives having come from smaller quarters. Often after making this shift, what once felt like a crowded life suddenly feels empty and full of overwhelming possibility. That sofa that once felt way too big for your cramped living room now feels like a pin cushion. That lone standing lamp that lit up your entire bedroom now only produces a small puddle of light. As a result, we often rush to furnish our spaces so that they feel “finished” – allowing us to get on with our busy lives.

Then time goes by and we settle into our homes. Kids get older, puppies become dogs, and kittens (hopefully) calm their wild ways. As our family changes so do our furniture needs. I have many clients who, after living in their homes for several years, wake up one day feeling underwhelmed by their spaces. What was “good enough” at IKEA 4 years ago (for so many different reasons) suddenly feels like a rickety relic of another era. That’s when you know it’s time for an upgrade.

I believe realizations like this are simply a part of the natural progression of homeownership. Once the madness of new homeownership dulls we can begin to focus on our spaces with a different eye – an eye toward curating, rather than decorating, our home. What does this mean exactly? Well, as we grow our tastes and needs evolve. As this happens, why not allow ourselves to fall in love with more substantial pieces of furniture and let the old “place holders” go? By taking the time to layer in quality pieces of furniture you are curating a home that begins to feel like an extension of you. An extension of the life within your walls.

This living room has changed considerably over the years. What began as a jumble of mis-matched, inherited pieces has slowly transformed into a style that is a better reflection of this family. It will surely keep evolving!

If our homes are an extension of their inhabitants, they should reflect where those inhabitants are in their lives currently, as well as where they have been. Think of the way your childhood bedroom changed as you grew up. Mine started as a toy strewn floor, shifted to a haven for sleepovers, and ended up as a dark cave with posters covering every inch of wall. Hey, no judgements! All of this change happened gradually over the span of about 15 years and while the end looked a whole lot different than it did at the start, many of the elements, such as my bed and chest of drawers, remained the same. Your childhood room’s personality changed over time along side yours and, now that you are an adult, so should your home.

By layering our homes with furniture and accessories from different times in our lives we are communicating the story of our family’s evolution.  These new pieces don’t have to be “important” or have a pedigree. They don’t have to be antiques or come from high end furniture stores. They should simply speak to you in some way. To create a home that truly feels like “you”, curate, don’t decorate.

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