We see it everywhere: “Buy this!,” “Buy that!” “Get the latest version now!” Meanwhile, didn’t you buy a similar item only a few months ago?
The outside world is constantly pressuring us to consume, upgrade, and spend our hard-earned money, often on things that don’t provide meaning or any added value to our lives. In our homes, this can lead us to making impulse purchases or spending more than we intended, and then, instead of having something bring us joy in our homes, we feel guilty about purchasing that item.
It can be a never ending cycle, but I want to change all that for you and have you feel like you can make informed, non-pressured decisions when making selections for your home décor.
Let’s take a look at consumerism, it’s role in design and, most importantly, how to go about selecting the right things for your home and how to only purchase goods that add value to your life.
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By definition, consumerism is a social and economic order that encourages consumers (people like you and me) to purchase products and services in ever-increasing amounts.
Companies that need consumerism to survive use tactics that play into our feelings, emotions, and our values to make it seem like we “need” this brand new, shiny item in our lives. They use our own desires like wanting to fit in, to be a part of something greater, and to have life be easier as ways to entice us to make a purchase.
Now I’m not saying that there aren’t companies and products out there that aren’t cutting-edge and specifically made to enhance your life. I just think that in the massive amounts of advertising we are subjected to, those are few and far between. So what do you do to figure out if you’re actually interested in something or just falling prey to consumerism?
Asking yourself a few key questions before purchasing can really help. You can use these as a checks and balances technique for really any purchase for your home or otherwise, big or small. Below are a few suggestions to get you started.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE MAKING A PURCHASE
1. Does this item add value to my life?
For me, this is the most important one, hence being at the top of the list. The word “value” speaks to something so innate in me, it’s like tapping into my soul. Things that do not hold true value, meaning, or depth don’t deserve your money being spent on them. Period.
2. Does this support me in a holistic way?
Figuring out if it supports your mind, body and/or spirit can help you determine if it is a right fit for you personally, and not the targeted audience of the company pushing the product or service.
3. Does this serve me now or will it serve for my future as well?
Determine if this is something you will continue to use and enjoy for years to come or just a fleeting trend you like right now.
4. Do I want this because I want to be someone who uses this or am I already somebody who embodies this?
I think of fitness equipment often with this concept. Do you spend money on a gym membership in hopes you will use it? Are you thinking about purchasing a $3,000 treadmill because you want to begin running?
Check to see if you’re ready to embody the lifestyle of the purchase already before spending big money or getting locked into a contract that’s impossible to get out of. Maybe start off with a new set of running shoes and go outside to see if you enjoy the act of running before shelling out more dough.
Now, you don’t need to ask yourself every question before making a purchase, you’ll probably get exhausted doing that! But use the one or two that speak to you the most or that apply best to that situation.
When you make the act of purchasing a more thoughtful, conscientious decision making process, you’ll find that you not only spend less on items that you probably would grow tired of soon anyway, but the purchases you do make add actual value to your life.
DESIGNING WITH PURPOSE
Now, at this point, you might be asking yourself, “Well, Amy, aren’t you an interior designer? Don’t you tell people to go buy new stuff?”
I’m glad you asked! Because no, I don’t think it’s my job to encourage clients to buy random $**t they don’t need.
In fact, I think it is my duty to make sure that anything that you purchase adds value to your life on a holistic level for the long-term.
If you couldn’t tell already, I’m pretty against buying stuff for stuff’s sake. Take a bookshelf filled with a bunch of HomeGoods items. I mean, I see this everywhere on social media, and it honestly drives me nuts.
Does it look pretty? Yes, of course it does. Is there any meaning behind that ceramic owl statue holding up those books? Unless an owl is your spirit animal, I’m going to guess it doesn’t hold value beyond it looking cute. And “being cute” just isn’t enough in my book.
For all the little nick-knacks and smaller items in a home, you can often use what you already have. Look through your storage and see if you have any items that aren’t being displayed that spark a good feeling for you.
Do you have any items that a friend or family member has given you that you enjoy because you’re reminded of their friendship and love? What about propagating a new plant from a clipping and watching it give life to a new area of your home? What about any items you’ve gathered on your travels and adventures?
If you are flush out of items, make that something you search for on your next trip. Bringing home a meaningful item from traveling can add such more depth to a space than something mass-produced and sold in home stores. And no, this is not me suggesting to start a shot glass collection. 😂
Let’s think more along the idea of purchasing something from a local artisan. Something you could get nowhere else, by no one else. You not only get a wonderful reminder of a fantastic trip experience, but you also are supporting a real, live human being and paying them for their special craft they bring into the world.
It’s a truly beautiful thing, and I even believe that by doing this, you are inviting other positivity into your home with that item.
What I do as a holistic designer has less to do with selecting what looks pretty in your home, but what would add value to your home and your life. Yes, it is going to look fabulous in the end, but it’s about figuring out what is important to you, enhancing your well-being, and not filling your home with vapid items that end up being donated in a year.
Look, if your sofa is on it’s last Netflix binge session, and it’s less like a sofa and more like a Jackson Pollock painting with all its stains, let’s get you into the most amazing durable sofa that allows you to relax and enjoy some peaceful moments resting. That adds value. Have you been using a coffee table that is propped up by books because it lost one of its legs, and you’re still hesitant to put an actual cup of coffee on it? Let's get you one that actually useful that's not deterring you from having a functional space.
Designing doesn’t have to be all about upgrading this, buying that, just for the sake of newness. Don’t you get enough pressure from others to do that? Designing holistically means removing what is cumbersome, isn’t functioning properly or bears no significance, and only modifying or adding elements that enhance a sense of greater well-being.
This might even mean renovating the interior architecture of your home, rather than the stuff inside of it. And honestly, this is where you get most value (in a monetary sense) because you are investing back into what is the largest investment for most people: their home.
Designing new architectural features in a home that enhance the home’s functionality and overall feeling of the space can greatly impact the way you feel in your home. It’s something that I personally really enjoy working on because it has longer lasting effects on a person’s well-being, more so than that ceramic owl. Sorry, owl.
Hopefully you feel better equipped with some questions to ask yourself before making your next impulse purchase, whether that be for your home or otherwise! Staying mindful about your purchases will allow you to surround yourself in only the things that support you holistically in mind, body and spirit on your journey through life.
And if you ever want a helping hand in making a space that is elementally designed for you, you know who to turn to. 😉
Stay well and be inspired,
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