Wednesday, January 20, 2016


"Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance." 
                                                                                                     Coco Chanel

Often times, addictions demand that we keep them secret. But decorating (or over decorating) has become an addiction that is lived out in the open all over America.

Not that there is anything wrong with having a neat, nicely appointed home, a well-kept garden, or clean sheets on your bed. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about filling a home to the brim with too much stuff, and spending more and more money on that stuff, maybe even spending when I should have been saving, just to have the latest and greatest thing being advertised.

Hi, my name is Karen, and I was a decorating addict. I am convinced this was a serious addiction because I was willing to get in debt for it and sacrifice my freedom for the next object to create the "perfectly" decorated space. I was constantly on the hunt for more. It was a daily habit. If I wasn’t leafing through a catalog, or shopping at one of my favorite stores, I was perusing the shelves of local thrift stores.  I have spent entire Saturdays (Sundays too sometimes) glued to the T.V. watching rooms, gardens, and entire houses being gutted and rebuilt (all in a half hour). T.V. shows created as gigantic infomercials to sell me and millions of others - you guessed it - decorating goods, everything from cheap linens and dishes to furniture and plants that die off in one season.

As with all addictions, there came a time when I knew that my problem was serious and I had to give it up; but how? How was I going to stop constantly rearranging my rooms, and moving heavy furniture, and filling my cupboards with more glasses and dishes than a major hotel chain restaurant?

Here is how I kicked my Decorating Addiction.

1. Admission. That is the first big step. I had to admit that my decorating was out of control, because it was. I did this by embracing a more minimalist lifestyle. I read books and listened to podcasts and read the blogs by The Minimalists and Leo Babauta.

2. I stopped watching home improvement shows. Without the shows telling me all the things I needed to have a happy and fulfilled life, I stopped needing to shop.

3. I realized from all my reading that if I have a comfortable chair to sit in and a light to read by I had enough furniture in my living room. Look at DeeWilliams' tiny space here. Or more importantly look at her smile.

4. I slowly started to focus on other things. I read more. I wrote more. I learned to put my shoes on, and take a walk on Sundays through a beautiful nature preserve that is only minutes from my house.

5. Like all addictions, I needed someone to talk to. In my case, I used a journal to write about my frustration. It is difficult to give up any addiction, and there were times when I would write about how I wanted to rearrange this room or that, or what I wanted to buy to fix this decorating dilemma, or even wondering about paint colors for rooms and furniture. Later, my new non-addicted self, speaking to my older addicted self, wrote notes in the margins showing that none of what I thought I needed was actually important.

6. I practiced being grateful for what I did have. I found that when I am grateful for what I have I am less likely to want MORE.

7. One thing I still practice is giving away things that I no longer need to people who do need them. It felt good that someone could use my things, and I still get to see them in their new surroundings.

8. Tell others. I talked about my addiction, and about kicking the decorating habit, with friends.  It isn’t necessary to say "well if you would give up decorating. . .  blah blah blah.” No one wants to be told what to do, but you can talk about your experience, and lead by example.

9. Meditation replaced shopping for me. It provides me with not only quiet time, but a sense of purpose as I live in my tiny space.

10. I’m not cured by a long shot. I will always be a decorating addict. Every day I have to wake up and make the choice to live simply and minimally.

11. I stopped shopping. It is part of the addiction. I know this, and I stay away from shops unless I need something specific.

12. Everyone loves to get gifts, and I’m no exception. However, I don't accept "gifts" that infringe on my new commitment to less and to kicking the addiction to decorating. Sadly, Well-meaning friends always want to give me things they perceive I "need". What, you don't have a couch? I have one . . . or; what, you don't have a T.V.? I think I have one in the . . . To all of these well-meaning "gifts" I politely say a simple "No".

These are the twelve things I do. It is not a one-time deal. It is one easy to kick the decorating habit. For me, I’m so happy now that I know that decorating does not have to be what my days are all about.


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