Looking Back On Your Old Rooms, What Do You Think Now?

leafy02March 14, 2013

I am trying to get together photos for an advice post on furniture placement, and looking through old photos on the computer I came across many of my last house and a few of the house before that.

I was really surprised at how different the rooms looked in the photos, compared to how they look in my memory. Compared to the "pictures" in my mind, the real-life rooms look empty and bare.

I know that photos for magazines and blogs are typically "layered" with many more items in them than most folks might have, but I think my clutter-phobia has led me too far in the opposite direction.

How about you all? When you look back at your rooms from 3, 5 or 10 years ago, what do you see now that you didn't see then?

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I still can,t believe how long I lived with ragpainted walls and was happy with them when I see the old photos. Someday I think I,ll look back at pics of all the toys in the living room and how did I live with all that clutter. There is very little me in that room its a toyland. Oh well it makes the kids happy and the kids make me happy.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 9:36PM
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olive drab gun tape on the sofa the dogs chewed/dug up...the desert sand color would've looked so much better : )

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:10PM
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But, you know what, in our neighborhood we all were young, broke, buying our first house, raising kids, so what was most important? To me it was getting those kids through it all, college, then paying off the mortgage (in a responsible manner I might add, not like what's going on with many these days). So, yes, our old rooms looked pretty bare for sure. Now in my living room I have couch and two chairs covered in Belgian Linen, another chair in a Ralph Lauren material and a very nice traditional rug. NOT what we had back then, lol! So yeah, it probably isn't the greatest neighborhood today after 40 years, but wouldn't move for anything, it's like family here! Plus, back then they gave us good sized back yards, so have 45 antique roses to look at.

Life is good.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 1:33AM
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Nothing too alarming, since I have always liked traditional and understated.

But I do think my old house, which was our first house, was really skewing old lady-ish. I think that happened because I thought our decor had to live up to the house, if you will. We did not buy a starter house - our first house was a very large, 3 story formal brick Georgian - and I think I wanted the make sure it looked "grown up". When we moved in, from a 1BR in Manhattan, all my furniture fit in the foyer (which was probably about 12x20). I didn't want to be one of those people who has empty rooms for years. So we went out and bought a house full of furniture, all of it very traditional. I took all my cues from the house and its moldings and mantles, etc.

If i were to do the house over again, I would try to bring some modernity to the style and play down the formality.
My current home is in a very different area and very much "casual country estate". I enjoy this decor much more --- for now!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:17AM
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Well, in my 20's it would have been "Damn, I was poor", in my 30's it was "Damn, guess I traveled a lot, never even got around to hanging pictures in that LR", in my 40's it was "Damn, kid stuff takes up a lot of room". Only, now, in my 50's, do I feel that I have time, money *and* interest to really decorate.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 10:33AM
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'Back when' I never took pics just of a room altho have photos of people showing parts of rooms. However that's not the same so all I have are my remembered impressions.

I'd have to go further back than 10 years as I began to 'collect' about 15 years ago when my nest emptied and I had more time to decorate my house. Also about then we received a lot of things from relatives who were downsizing. Previous to that I had comparatively few home decor accessories and was fine with that. I think my LR looked nice then altho it certainly wasn't the layered look I've come to prefer and I used plants to keep it from looking sparse.

After collecting home decor accessories for many years I had so many I had to rotate them and decided to edit. I still have many more than I had years ago and am very selective with what I now buy.

I find many pics on blogs and in cottage style magazines show way too many layered accessories. Some almost look as if they should be a display in a store.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 11:42AM
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I wish I had taken pictures of the many places I've lived.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 12:25PM
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I was looking through old photos recently and came across some when my XH was in graduate school. We had one son at that time. Our apartment was on the first floor of what had been a very grand old twin house in the university area of our city. I think I tried too hard to make the place look "grown up" with inexpensive versions of nice drapes, furniture and rugs. It did not look relaxed. I wish I had just embraced being young and broke and had fun with inventive decorating. Of course, there was no CL back then.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 12:26PM
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I think I am very good at blocking things out, lol.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 12:31PM
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Madeyna, I remember the years where part of our living room held our DD's toy kitchen, her craft table, and baskets of toys--and I don't regret them a bit. Although it mightn't have been great 'design', it was wonderful to have them playing where we actually 'lived'. Enjoy your toy years!

Baroo2--ha ha! What we do for our dogs... I have many photos 'ruined' by all the dog hair under the dining room chairs :-)

ogrose--I feel like there used to be more 'forgiveness' for people being young and broke-- people used to think my home was 'something' because I had a few antiques and rugs that weren't made of plastick-y stuff. In grad school, I was really impressed by a classmate who had painted her walls non-white--it was impressive! Nowadays, I feel like blogs and Pinterest give young people unrealistic expectations of what they 'should' be able to do, because the bloggers don't always disclose how they are robbing Peter to pay Paul for their purchases.

Mtnrdredux--I was more formal in my first home, too. Just what I was used to, growing up, and it never occurred to me to vary from it until later, when I fell for the Arts and Crafts period...

Sandyponder--Oh, I hope I'll have more money and time to dedicate to it in my 50's. That would be one "side effect" of aging to look forward to!

Luckygal, yes, some photos of 'homes' look more like displays these days. And I too use plants to keep things from looking sparse. Not as effective as actually having the right things, but definitely better than before I used them, and they do bring life to rooms.

Fun2BHere--it's true, I treasure the few photos I have of the places I lived before I had kids--once we had kids, there were plenty of shots with our rooms at least as background, but the apartments where I lived alone--almost none or no photos :(

dedtired: I think sites like Apartment Therapy make it easier to envision less formal styles than 'way back when'. All the home decor mags from when we were just starting out featured more formal looks--whether it was living rooms that looked like Ye Old Hunt Club or Queen Victoria's bedroom, I don't remember anything 'casual' until cottage style rolled around to the Better Homes and Gardens at my doctor's office!

Snookums--oh, I wish I could block out the flamingo painting I had on the mantel for years!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 3:10PM
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I feel like there used to be more 'forgiveness' for people being young and broke... Nowadays, I feel like blogs and Pinterest give young people unrealistic expectations of what they 'should' be able to do, because the bloggers don't always disclose how they are robbing Peter to pay Paul for their purchases.

Yes! I am still fairly young and although I'm proud of what I've been able to do with my home so far, I do feel this pressure. I know I'm pressuring myself, but sometimes I don't know how not to. I'm very careful about managing money spent on decor and remodeling so there's always something I feel like I "need" to do, but I don't have the cash on hand yet. I also have a younger friend who just recently moved out on her own and she hasn't wanted to have us over because she feels like her place isn't ready yet. She's been there several months and feels like she doesn't have enough furniture for people to sit on. (Even though we're young and would be happy to sit on the floor just to come see her place.)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 6:22PM
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Funny, I think back to my previous homes and apts-- especially those when I was much tighter and I remember them as being more "me". At least the me of the time. They were carefree and interesting-- surely mostly furnished with second hand pieces-- but lucky I lived places where there was a lot to choose from in the second-hand market.

I think I've become a little too stymied by what I SHOULD have and how I SHOULD decorate in my advancing, very grown-up years. I knew I'd pull together a great space because I liked my taste in "things" I didn't fret about how to mix the styles or define and stick to a color palette.. it just all seemed to work because I loved (or was at least pleased with) my selections.

I need to bring a little bit of that confidence and carefree attitude back-- and not just to my decor!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 7:26PM
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Good topic. I've been working on putting together a gallery wall and so also been sifting through old photos and came across a bunch taken about 15-20 years ago, pre-remodel, when kids were either young or we didn't have them yet. I took them for insurance purposes. Looking at them I can see that I really didn't have much of an eye for good decorating and/or had awkward layouts. I'd be embarrassed to post them here! I don't follow any blogs regularly so can't relate to the pressure comments, but do feel that the internet, forums like these as well as Craigslist, eBay, etc. has transformed our lives. Instead of getting ideas from design books and/or magazines which didn't look like real homes for real middle class families, we now have these other means to share ideas and pictures.

I used to seldom purchase decor items for my home and would just put up a hodge podge of whatever my friends and relatives would gift me and as a result it lacked cohesion as well as scale. After we remodeled and that was all boxed up, I did not put most of it back, instead editing it down to what I liked and purchased more to fill it out over time, focusing on fewer, larger scale items.

One area where my DH and I differ, is that he thinks that what we do for our home is for guests to see and if we don't entertain often enough what is the point whereas I see decorating in a more personal light and not just to create a space welcoming for family and friends, but something for my personal enjoyment. For him, as long as the furniture is comfortable and the electronics are current that is enough; whereas for me, having decor solely for the purposes of beautification is just as important.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 2:40AM
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Mtn, what is "casual country estate?" I'm on acreage also, and my estate has changed drastically over the years. :)

We're still in our first house, but did extensive remodeling and added-on. We could have built a larger house, but there is no way I'd give up all the beautiful Oaks and the orchard. When we moved in, there was only one giant tree, now the acreage is full of them.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 7:08AM
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Oh gosh, I don't know. It's what my GC used to call it. I'm sure the phraseology simply meant that everything should cost 50% more.

I won't give up trees either. In our last house I made them shoehorn the pool into a space surrounded by trees, costing my DH daily rounds of skimming leaves, bud, flowers, etc etc! But it looked so lovely.

In this house, I cut a corner off the design for my new powder room to save tree roots, and cantilevered my kids' craft room to save another tree.

What kind of orchard? It must be lovely right about now or will be very soon!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 11:18PM
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Interesting, most people seem to have moved from more formal to less formal. Our path has been just the opposite. We lived in apartments early in our marriage---- most of it in NYC, where we were lucky to have a spacious 3 bedroom, 2 bath apt on the 31st floor of a modern 1970s building. The architecture was very clean, and we hadn't yet been given most of the family pieces we have now. The cost of moving from the south to New York was staggering--- to us. So I got rid of most of our junky stuff and took only our bedroom furniture. Our son was just ready to move from a crib to a bed, so we didn't take any of his nursery furnishings. Instead I went shopping for contemporary kids' and living room/ dining room furniture and had it moved in the original cartons or delivered directly to New York. I went up two weeks before my DH and son and moved in completely, right down to sheets on the beds, artwork on the walls, grocery stores and preschool found, etc.

That style was better suited to our environment and lifestyle at the time. When we moved to a house our decor changed somewhat, and our parents began giving us pieces they'd been keeping until we had the room and the desire for them. My house is now very traditional.

We were helped a great deal by our families in setting up our ny apt, and have done the same for our kids as they have moved into their first apartments. Sometimes it surprises me that their tastes are so traditional, as I am now veering back towards clean contemporary. If we ever are able to downsize there's no telling what I'll do! I look back at pictures of previous homes and see an evolving lifestyle and budget that dictated our choices, and it all looks pretty good still :-)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:28AM
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