I have been living outside of my parents’ house for quite a while now, but I didn’t always feel independent. Moving out and then going back to your parents’ house to stock up on groceries when you are sure they’re still at work doesn’t count as independence. I don’t think I really felt independent until I left my home state of New York and moved to Florida. By that point, I was married with three children.
I have lived in Florida for over seven years and although I am self-sufficient for the most part, I don’t know that I feel like a grown up. I mean, I know I am grown. I have the arthritis and stray gray hairs to prove it. I still didn’t feel like a real grownup, though. You know, the kind that owns a house and takes kids to soccer practice. When I stop to think about it, I realize it has a lot to do with the whole house thing. My dwelling doesn’t belong to me. I am ashamed to say that I pay twice as much money to live in it as some people pay for a mortgage, but I still don’t have the freedom to paint an accent wall, or rip up the carpet and put in hardwood floors. And the more I think about that, the more it bums me out. But some not so smart choices in my younger days put me in a position where buying a house isn’t an option right now. As I once heard Steve Harvey say, most people spend their thirties fixing the mistakes they made in their twenties. He was really on to something there.
Being a renter has its advantages. I don’t have to worry when things wear out and need to be replaced. That’s what the management office is for. But there are also disadvantages to renting. The worst is probably the white walls and the overall drab décor that you can’t make any permanent changes to. That makes it difficult to create a space that is a reflection of who you are. When you initially leave the home of your parents, the idea of having your own space is more exciting than anything. It doesn’t matter if your bed is nothing more than a mattress on a bare floor, or if your dining room table is made from milk crates. It’s all yours. After a while, that excitement wears off and leaves you longing for dwelling that actually feels like a home, rather than some place you happen to sleep and eat.
Since I don’t own the place I live in, it’s hard to find the motivation to beautify it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a far cry from a dump. We have some decent pieces of furniture, or at least they were decent before children and cats got to them. But the place is really generic. I have seen model homes with more personality. Not a single one of my friends could walk into my living room and say: “Yep, this sure is Afsana’s place”. I wanted to change that. It would be difficult though. While my taste is more bohemian/eclectic (sometimes meaning a hodgepodge of crap that doesn’t really go together), my husband’s taste is much more traditional. So how could I keep things traditional enough to keep him satisfied, but funky enough to appease my inner flower child? Decisions, decisions. For the longest time, I tried to keep everything neutral. That way if we move, all of our stuff will match the new place, no matter what color the walls and carpets happen to be. But I hate coming home to a living space that just functions as a place to live.
Lusting over home decorating and DIY blogs has been my new hobby lately. After feeling more inspired to fix my space, I decided to start with the dining room. We have had a very nice table set, but the table and chairs needed some help after having owned them for five years. Jelly Bean and Moon Pie used the chairs as scratching posts when they were still kittens and left me with shredded leather, and the kids spilled some unknown substance on the table that destroyed the finish. I wasn’t really as angry about that as I claimed to be, because it gave me the opportunity to experiment and show a little of my personality. I knew that I wanted to make the set over completely, but my husband knows how bad my track record is when it comes to finishing large projects. I was determined to prove him wrong this time, and I did just that. I don’t want to give too much away just yet, because I plan to take you room by room through the changes I made. I hope to inspire anyone who doesn’t believe that you can make a rental home your own without losing your security deposit.
So stay tuned over the next few weeks (or months) while I share my home makeovers with you all.