My internal conflict

There is one major tendency that I have, in terms of my personality and habits, that I think has had one of the biggest impacts on my interior styling being unsuccessful – prior to learning the tricks of the trade that is. So I wanted to share this in case it rings true for others too.

The tendency I am referring to is my natural tendency towards order, alignment, tidiness and neatness.

As I mentioned in my last post, I really don’t like things to feel haphazard, disjointed or messy. Mess makes me feel anxious and unsettled – definitely not the mindset you want to be in if you’re trying to foster feelings of happiness, productivity and relaxation in your home. I’m the kind of person who feels fidgety, uneasy and who can’t concentrate if I can see dirty plates on the side or clothes left lying on the floor. I’ve been well aware of this for as long as I can remember and when I rented homes and then bought my own, this tendency has always been at the forefront of my mind. However, until I learnt about interior styling my default method for dealing with this desire for neatness was just to find a cupboard for everything! Everything has to fit somewhere where it can be hidden and shelving on the walls or art/pictures out on the walls was an absolute no no! I can’t have shelves on the walls where things can be seen to be messy, where I can see they are messy. No, it’s much safer to just hide everything!

The result – a pretty drab and personality free home! And not only that but as things started to creep out of cupboards (because there is never enough cupboard space) things looked even worse because they looked so out of place.

Now, I just need to add a piece of clarity here, because the above may suggest, to people who don’t know me so well, that my home is always beautifully neat and tidy but in fact it is far from that! Unfortunately my habit of wanting things neat and tidy is met with strong opposition from my habit to be…… well honestly, lazy! I am no Monica Geller, I do not enjoy tidying nor cleaning one bit! So I don’t want you to go away with any kind of guilt that your home isn’t always neat and tidy, I don’t think many ever are. The downside for me is that having a messy home really gets me down and usually it isn’t until I have some kind of outburst that I realise I just have to tidy and clean because it’s getting to me and my husband usually bears the brunt of that outburst – sorry Nigel!

The other issue I had was that I didn’t understand why my home interior never looked like the images I pinned. Why, when I bought furniture or particular items as seen in the pictures, did my apartment then not look as good as the image? The reason; I wasn’t linking any of my stuff together by displaying items that can link bigger furniture pieces together, so everything was very separate and didn’t marry together. Also, if I did buy something nice and that item would fit in a cupboard or drawer I’d stick it in there, where its beauty couldn’t been seen or used to add a cohesive feel to the room.

My personality trait of wanting neatness was masking all my other more creative personality traits and making my home dull quite frankly!

Unfortunately, before I learnt more about the rules of styling and using things like asymmetry, my default was to always go for symmetry. This wasn’t necessarily a conscious thing at all but now looking at it I think it’s probably because symmetry feels ordered and aligned. However, too much symmetry ironically leads to less flow and cohesion and therefore things feel less ordered.

So for those of you out there who also love order and alignment, try not to make it a rule in your home to just match everything in pairs or to add too much symmetry. There’s a correct place for elements of symmetry but no more than there is for asymmetry. For me, symmetry helps to add a boarder, frame or obvious structure to an area and asymmetry helps to add flow to an overall room so that the symmetrical elements don’t look like odd little disjointed islands. Now, that isn’t necessarily a definitive styling rule but for me it helps make sense of how to use both successfully and it helps me to be able to verbalise my styling approach.

So again, as I usually suggest, take a look around your rooms – do they flow, does everything seem connected and cohesive or do you have random groups of things that match each other but feel like single entities? 

As always if you want some help around this concept of adding more asymmetry (or symmetry) into your home then give me a shout.

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