because decorating matters

When you only live somewhere for a year or two or three at a time, it’s easy to talk yourself out of investing the time and energy it takes to make it feel like a home. But in the Foreign Service your entire life is a collection of one or two or three year stints, and if you never bother to create a home, then how will you ever feel at home? That’s no way to live a life.

This was a lesson we learned the hard way during our first tour. We’re wiser now.

Which brings me to my latest project.

As you may recall, we bought a house in the DC area. As you may also recall we’ll only be living here for about a year before heading back overseas. The first four months flew by before I knew it. Of utmost importance was introducing Flynn to all the great things America had to offer, all the while spending some quality time with him before the baby was born. Besides, our stuff was still on a boat somewhere in the Atlantic — we couldn’t even really decorate if we wanted to. And then, the baby. Need I even explain why his arrival kept me busy?

But last week when Flynn headed off to visit his grandparents in Ohio, I decided it was the moment to act. Never mind that we only had 10 months left in this house. Never mind that I wouldn’t have the time or energy to do everything I wanted. It was important, I knew from our mistakes in Benin, to do something. And so, with much help from my mom and a little help from Andy (who was otherwise occupied with the thankless task of basement organization), I devoted myself to fixing up the boys’ rooms.

First up, the toddler.

When I asked Flynn what kind of room he wanted, he requested trains, airplanes, and Mickey too. Trains or airplanes? No problem. Trains and airplanes. Tougher. I doubted I would find such a bedroom set at Pottery Barn Kids, but thankfully Etsy came through — on the trains and airplanes decor, anyway. Mickey, we had to mix in ourselves.

Mickey, hanging with Elmo, enjoying the scenic view.
Shh... don't tell Flynn these are stickers! They might end up on his leg or forehead, where all other stickers seem to go.
Firetruck? Car? Gas station sign? Sure, let's throw in all the other transportation themed gear we already have too. He's two; he won't notice.

Want to know something cool? That comforter is fitted at one end, meaning a certain toddler no longer has an excuse to demand the presence of his parents at 3 a.m. because “my piggies came out.” Why doesn’t all kids bedding come this way?

One of our favorite Benin keepsakes.
An oldie but goodie from Grandma and Grandpa.
Scored this dresser on Craigslist, my new obsession.
Awww... family.

What did he think?

Worthy of his very best fake smile! (Actually, he liked it. I couldn't capture a real smile because he was too busy running around.)

And now, the baby.

Andy thought a whale themed room for Jonah was a little too obvious. But I thought it would be cute, so tough luck to him.

Hello, yellow.
My arts and crafts project for the year.
And this too.
Over there.
Lots of nooks and crannies.
Jonah will be just barely one when we leave this house. Think he'll ever actually sleep in this room? Here's hoping...

What did Jonah think?

He liked his room too! Or maybe just his morning milk, or that Abbey finally stopped barking, or that Flynn wasn't poking him for once. We'll never know.

Our room, the living room, the dining room, and the basement are works in progress. I hope to be able to post some finished product photos soon. As for the kitchen… anyone want to gift a mere $100,000 to the cause? No takers? Okay, in that case, it might be a while before we see any real improvements there.

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6 Responses to because decorating matters

  1. Greta says:

    I love it!!!!!!!! I think I will call if I ever get around to purchasing and decorating.

  2. Linda Radecki says:

    You did a beautiful job. Both boys have great smiles.

  3. Lynne says:

    LOVE the rooms. And completely agree about the needing to do “something”. We let the kids pick out the paint colors for the rooms and the artwork for their walls out of what we already had. They are tangibly more “homey” in our house, after two months, than the place we just lived in for four years. Can’t wait to see the rest of your renovations! And if you find people willing to donate to your kitchen renovation, can you see if they will do a twofer? I hate my kitchen at least twice a day.

  4. Kay Bolinger says:

    The rooms look great! You have the right idea, but even if you don’t get every detail as you would like, the four of your really make any house a home!

  5. Chelsea says:

    I love your decorating style! I agree that you have to do something. We’re in the Oakwood for 8 months, and while I haven’t done any interior decorating (except a tablecloth, which is more functionally necessary than visually pleasing), we did put plants, window boxes, and even a tree out on our balcony. After two years of apartment living in China with no balcony or even windows that opened more than 2 inches, this felt like an expansive backyard! We can’t wait until we live somewhere permanently in order to make our house feel like home. That’s something I’m going to really try for in our next post! (In China we waited a year before we bought houseplants, and I was kicking myself for it the whole next year. )

  6. Katie says:

    You said it perfectly! We are getting ready for our first overseas post to Italy this August, but have been adjusting to find that “home away from home” feeling. We left our home several years ago… We eill be spending 7 months at Oakwood with 3 children under 6. I would love to pick your brain!!! Best of luck!

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