In 2014 I made a goal for myself to appreciate our house as it is. Our house isn't my dream home, the one I would build from scratch or buy if money was no option, so it's easy for me to look around our home and to see all the big things (new floors! new countertops!) and little things (throw pillows! more art!) I wish I could change. Or to see beautifully designed homes online and make comparisons to our home (and forget that those homes are styled by professionals or by full time DIYers). This leaves me feeling unsatisfied and grumpy. It also makes me feel like if I just had more money to spend on improving our house I would feel better. And we know that using money to get to happiness is always a safe bet!
The truth is that if I step back and take the long view I realize how petty and ungrateful I am being. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to afford to own a large (1,775 sq. ft) home that is air conditioned, has running water, is furnished and is in a very safe area - among many other aspects. It might seem silly to feel grateful for things like running water but there are so many people in the world who don't enjoy even this simple luxury. Reminding myself of this perspective diminishes the unsatisfied feelings I have when I see our kitchen countertops and feel a frown coming on.
So, in 2014 I made an effort to focus on feeling grateful for our home whenever the feelings of comparison and dissatisfaction would creep in. So, did it work? Yes! And no. Do I still like to dream of renovating our kitchen, landscaping the front yard and plenty of other projects representing thousands of dollars? YES. But do I let myself go down the path of thinking that our house and life isn't awesome because we can't do those things? NO. I think this is a big step!
Now when I start to think about changes I wish we could make to the house I am now in the habit of quickly focusing on my appreciation for all we have. I still enjoy thinking up ways to make our home more cozy and to reflect our taste but it's tempered with remembering all that we do have and I find myself feeling happier about our home overall.
Simplifying and minimizing our stuff has gone a long way to help me love our house. We have less stuff and the stuff we do have has a "home" so it's easier to keep the house tidy. I've realized that even if I don't love our countertops that if they are clutter-free and sparkling clean I don't mind them nearly so much. Which is kind of amazing when you consider that getting rid of some stuff and cleaning might actually be the trick to home satisfaction instead of spending money to make an improvement.
Another change that I've seen over the past year is that now, more than ever, our house is our home. Every room is where our family lives - family dinners in the front room, watching for "big trucks!" out the front window, cooking with Dashiell in the kitchen; Chris and Dashiell wrestling in the great room; the spot on the couch where I sat to nurse Dashiell and now Cedric; Dashiell scooting up and down the halls on his Wee Rol and calling "Daaaahhhhh-deeee!" from all corners of the house, the splashing and laughing at bath time in the bathrooms and on and on and on. This house is where all my favorite memories are happening. And when I focus on the happiness that is so abundant in our house the actual stuff and the look of it is so much less important.