I suppose we started setting up house like the majority of North Americans. There is a prescribed formula for furniture in each room and so we began mindlessly acquiring those pieces. The day we moved into our first home, we had a mattress and boxspring on the floor in our bedroom and that was it. Eventually we added some small tables to serve as nightstands and elevated our bed with a basic metal frame. It was simple, but sufficient for the first year of our life together.
We moved. Our space downsized by half, but we started upgrading furniture. First an increase to a queen size bed (to be fair, the full size mattress was a bit snug for two tall adults). I discovered a version of Freecycle in my community and soon we had new to us nightstands and a gigantic twelve drawer dresser. We swapped the basic metal frame for a dark grey, bronze studded fully upholstered frame. We had coordinating sheets and a duvet, side lamps, a vintage mirror, and curated decorations. By Pinterest standards, we had arrived! I would lay in my tidy, albeit full, bedroom at night and think about how far we’d come from that mattress on the floor.
Over time, I learned something about upholstered bed frames (at least mine in particular) – they get dusty. They have to be vacuumed. Nightstands with drawers and shelves collect things, as do large dressers. They allow excess to linger because the space exists. The things I loved were starting to cause more frustration and work. My affinity for them started to wane. Then we were in the time of chaos – I was pregnant and we were renovating our storage to be a second bedroom. Every item was questioned, nothing was permanent.
After Rhys was born and we had the luxury of a second bedroom, we began the era of room swapping. It wasn’t immediately clear which room would work better for the adults vs. the baby so we moved back and forth a few times. Our furniture did not fit the same in both rooms so first we removed the night stands. I hated vacuuming the bed frame and it was big and heavy to move so we swapped it for a very simple wooden platform that didn’t require a boxspring. The dresser never fit in our second bedroom and as we continued to minimize our possessions we didn’t need the storage space it provided. Eventually we replaced it with a mid-century four drawer model, downsizing by two-thirds.
Four years later and we’ve boomeranged away from the after-worthy photos. I still have the duvet and I like coordinating sheets, but we’ve returned to the very basics. A simple bed frame and a single small stool to serve as a nightstand. A small framed photo, an antique alarm clock, and a hammered copper dish to hold jewelry are the only decorative items. While I wouldn’t say that I love the look of our bedroom currently I love that it is easy to clean and that it functions exactly as we need it to – a place to sleep and to store our clothes. In my dream world – where we aren’t renters and we have unlimited funds – I’d like tall ceilings, white walls, and huge windows.
Over the years, all of our rooms have followed similar paths – building up, acquiring, working towards those worthy after photos. But along the way it became obvious that we weren’t working for ourselves, we were only trying to fulfill that prescribed ideal. Now we’re at a crossroads. I don’t look at the style and decor in our house and see everything I love. I see things that coordinate well enough, function for our family, and don’t cost us a lot of money. I am learning to appreciate them for their other qualities, like the comfort they provide and the lifestyle they allow us to live. Our second bedroom is technically a den, but am I willing to pay another thousand dollars to have a closet and a window and walls I can paint white? No. Right now I am happiest where we are with what we have. I need clean and comfortable and aesthetics are a bonus. I’ve realized that meeting that ideal isn’t me and it isn’t worth the cost. I am happy where we are, photo worthy or not!