I am a minimalist, and by default so are my two daughters. Minimalism means we live with as few possessions as comfortably possible. If we determine an item is unnecessary or nonfunctional, we typically do not buy it or keep it. Even as a minimalist, decorating is important; especially because the fewer the furnishings, the more impact each piece has within the space.
In 2010, we moved into our 2,800-square-foot urban loft apartment with its 20- to 30-foot ceilings. I've tried to find that decorating balance of being minimalistic yet homey, but my efforts have been in vain. Unfortunately, the loft today looks much like it did when we moved in. Lofts can be a decorator's dream… but mine is more like a stark nightmare. Here are seven of my best-intention decorating attempts that turned out to be my worst mistakes:
1. Disco kitchen: I hung a disco ball on a blue chain from the track-lighting bar in my kitchen. A friend had given it to me for my previous house and it had sentimental value. Following my own minimalism advice, it would have to go if I couldn't find a place for it. The kitchen looked lonely and in need of some lively spunk, so up went the disco ball. Then I positioned the track-lighting spotlights in such a way that the disco ball makes the floor sparkle when the lights are on. I can disco-dance dinner to the table! At one time we roller skated in the area underneath it, but the neighbors below us said it sounded like thunder; now we stick to dancing. While we enjoy the randomness of the disco ball, it creates more of a cocktail-nightlife vibe instead of the up-and-coming artist and family-friendly atmosphere I was aiming for.
2. A curtain divider: I wanted to section off a den or spare bedroom within the large open floor plan, so I put up antique dingo-ball curtains from the 1950s. It looks really funny because the curtains do not hit the floor and the ceiling is so vast that there is a lot of uncovered space, making the curtains seem insignificant. They do very little to conceal or room anything.
3. Artist renditions, a child's take: My daughter thought she would make art to hang on the terribly blank walls. Three years later they still hang there via mismatched pushpins. Further along on the wall hangs more art created by my daughters. The artwork is not framed and the edges are curling up on some. They are in various stages of "progress."
4. A map in nowhere: My partner loves maps. He has many in various forms. The largest, which he had no room for at his house, is a 3-D map of Lake Michigan, measuring about 3 feet by 4 feet. Though I had another vision, we ended up hanging half of the map in the open entryway and the other half in the area designated for dining. It's resulted in a bizarre misplaced look because each half looks quite small on its own against a wall that is about 20 feet long.
5. A chair-y fiasco: I own four chairs -- one 1960s-retro green chair, one 1908 wooden desk chair, and two mod silver indoor-outdoor chairs. Our chairs are our living room. In our loft, there are no dividing walls between rooms. So wherever the chairs are, that's where our living room is at the time. I move them often and rearrange them when I get tired of the current shape. While this allows for free-flowing change, we never have a real living room. Instead, we just have these four mismatched chairs that move around the loft haphazardly.
6. Utility TV: We added a wall-mounted TV, but it makes the space feel even more empty because it's attached directly to an enormous white wall. Without the typical entertainment center, that's one less furnishing in our expansive space.
7. Wall decals: I found some wall decals in the shape of flowers. I applied them to the wall above my couch to make the white wall seem less daunting, but only 20 came in the box and with walls as spacious as mine I'd need a million of them to make a significant impact. I have faith that this mistake will turn into a success once I have enough decals to make a larger-scale design.
Overall my apartment remains bland and bare, but I am open to cost-effective and groovy decorating ideas. If readers have a suggestion, please leave a comment below.