How to enjoy your home, even though it isn’t finished yet

Invest in the journey, not the destination, says interior designer Maryann Schmidt. Yes you can have nice things even though your house isn’t the finished product yet. And yes you are allowed to spend a bit of money on your home even before you know exactly what the end result of your renovations will look like. Here, she shares some top tips for getting into this mindset and out of interior design purgatory!

Maryann and her builder husband Marty

As a designer, I see firsthand how having your house styled or renovated can radically affect your wellbeing and lifestyle. 

Working my way up the property ladder myself alongside my builder husband, we have lived in well-loved but neglected houses over the years. Each was bought with the prospect of renovating it beautifully, being insanely happy for a few short months, selling, and doing the whole process again. And again! It’s not only challenging on the marriage front but also from a mental health perspective. And it’s not just us; each client I meet has fallen into the same traps as I have. 

The end result we see in magazines is just the tip of the iceberg of what that person or couple has gone through to achieve such a spectacular result, often, talking themselves out of any new purchases for years by saying “I’m not sure what style the house will end up so don’t want to buy that chair” or “it’s fashionable now, but will it be later?”. We do this because we don’t want to be wasteful and that is a very good reason, but living in an ‘interim’ mindset is interior design purgatory! 

The difference we feel when it’s all done as a family is huge and has taught me many lessons along the way. These are my top tips for making your home feel more like home while it patiently waits for its next evolution.

Follow your heart, not trends, and buy pieces that bring you joy.  

I realise this isn’t ground-breaking advice, but it answers that question in your head “Will it still be in fashion?”. The answer? Who cares?! Do what you like, it’s your home and if you end up falling out of love with it – well, just make the split amicable! Which leads to my next point…

Donate! Renew! Pass on! Sell it!

All self-explanatory – when you are out of love with a piece in your home, move it on mindfully. There are so many people out there that would love it. Consider women’s shelters, local nurseries, auction houses, garage sales or secondhand stores before putting it on the kerb and creating landfill. Or if it just needs a bit of love, swap out frames in old artworks or pictures, paint it, change handles, reupholster your retro chairs with a fun fabric. If you are stumped on how to do this, engage with a designer or handy friend who can help you along. These small changes can make a big impact and bring your piece into the now for you to enjoy for many more years to come.

80 / 20 rule – Buy the best you can afford and remember not everything has to be new.

It’s all about balance and that is also in the wallet department. The best bit is that 80% new and 20% vintage creates visual interest within a room and avoids the matchy-matchy look. I recommend scouring online vintage stores to find that truly unique piece.

Support local!

We Australians are a talented bunch and I can bet that if you look past mass made goods, you will find little gems which you will cherish. Creating connection with your local craftspeople will help tell the story of a particular piece and make you love it so much more. And remember, the more you love it, the more you will make room for it later.

And last but not least…

Upgrade your everyday.

It’s the small things that “spark joy” (thank you, Ms Kondo). We made the choice to invest in beautiful Australian made plates and bowls which we love and every day, rain, hail or shine, they bring us joy. I even love stacking my dishwasher with them! For you, it could be amazing towels or sheets. Whatever it is, don’t believe what Instagram is selling. Life is 90% ordinary, so make these moments count!

Remember, regardless of what your home will look like post renovation, it will undoubtably look like your home, even with its fluffy pink velvet chair or revamped vintage console! Isn’t that the point?

Maryann Schmidt is principal interior designer at Hunt & Design and the NSW and ACT host of season 3 of Dream Homes Revealed Australia, filming now.



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