Decorating for Valentine’s Day, or Perhaps Not

Decorating for Valentine’s Day, or Perhaps Not

I debated and wrestled in my own mind as to whether I should write about this at all. But it really got to me, and at dinner last night I asked KBJ why did this bother me so much. I ruminated on it overnight, thought about it a bit more while doing yesterdays gift guide and decided I would.


Let me share a video that was on, of all places, The Southern Living web site. I opened it and quite frankly this was my reaction – it about spoiled Valentine’s Day for me. Let me tell you why after you look at the video, and then you can tell me if I have totally lost it. It is just a minute plus.

Southern Living video source     and  instagram

OK. Here is why I think this affected me so much.  First it took my breath away, and then it raised my blood pressure. Please, this is not a direct challenge to any individual. It is about what I see transpiring in the design blogging world, and over many, many months I have had to rethink what it is I feel I can offer. At Christmas we see these outdoor light and over the top decorating competitions. It’s not my thing to need to have more and more lighting, or to win prize money, and for all the hundreds and sometimes thousands of people who take their kids and enjoy it in the spirit of the season, I suppose I understand it. However, that being said, very few, if any of these way over the top  people blog. They just dig Christmas, and they admit it takes them weeks, sometimes months to put their displays together. I have noticed over the last couple of years that bloggers, not all, but many, are less genuine. It seems like design blogging is becoming more and more competitive as to who can have the most over the top response to decorating for the holidays, or a party. Their homes are presented as always perfect, and like the airbrushed model we still see so often, will often be presented such that the reader/viewer ends up feeling that they are somehow coming up short. When I began this blog my goal was to really keep it authentic. I have always had dogs, and so there are always nose prints on the doors, muddy feet, and dust bunnies no matter that I chase after them with a broom, dust cloth and vacuum cleaner. Yes, there are rooms off limits to the dogs, and I work to keep my home clean, neat and presentable. Many readers have children running around, and when I see bloggers with children whose home are always presented as perfect, I feel that they either have an Alice (Brady Bunch) full time, or they might not be really showing/telling it like it is sometimes. Projects are messy, time consuming, and unless you have a dedicated space for all of these varied projects, you are going to have “stuff” laying about for some parts of days or weeks. My terrace level and upstairs was a bloody mess while I was reorganizing the Christmas room. I am a person who needs order in my life. That said, blogging, interior design (in one’s own home especially), projects, crafts, recipes, etc and the resulting materials necessary to accomplish them do not remain invisible while one is working on the project and they do not put themselves away when said project is completed. That sometimes goes for client projects as well, so I have had to learn to accept a certain amount of disorder.

A client project is a lot different than a bloggers home and projects. When I complete a client project, it is done, you turn it over to them and they live with it however they choose, and maybe tweak it over time. A blogger is always moving from room to room with various projects to post about, so it is well impossible to keep a perfect home. If the home is presented as perfect all the time, then readers are led to have unreal expectations that there is no commotion or messes in design. Same goes for work in the garden. The beautiful gardens come after moving lots of dirt, and sometimes mud and rocks, plant debris, and you do not look photo ready much of the time, especially in the heat of summer. If I showed you a home with 34,000 hearts, stacks of candy, etc. and it was perfect and so was the rest of the home, do you get that it had to be messy at some time, because where do you store 34,000 hearts while you decorate? In the house of course, etc. In my mind it is about the process, so that if one wishes to replicate one of the garlands, or candy displays, then how did she do it? Or is it just enjoyment and immersion in the fantasy of it all?

When I show a completed project, often there is still a lot of cleanup of tools and supplies not yet put away. It might simply because we are too tired to do it right then and there, so they stay. Right before a client final reveal there is often a need for this or that for a quick fix or adjustment. When I cook a recipe to share on the blog, or a tablescape, I can tell you for sure, the kitchen was not back to “perfect” when I was finished until well after the photo shoot. I try and share the steps to get to the completed project so that a reader might say, “heh I can do that”.


As a blogger when you are giving advice or instruction, I believe that one has a responsibility to make sure it is correct and sound advice, and that it has  been checked for any potential snafus.



Perfect enough for me allows that the toaster is always on the counter, the coffee and espresso machines always on the coffee bar. I would love, really love, to always have clear counters, but I want to live my life, not an OCD one— e.g. use an item, put it away. then need it again 2 hours later, then put it away again. You get the idea. We use our homes as studios for our blog. And if you choose to take some of the ideas and run with it, you need to also understand that it is work and it can be messy and sometimes frustrating, even if it is your passion. I cannot tell you how many times I get emails from exasperated readers who came across my blog searching for a solution, and who tell me they need some help because they undertook a home or garden project and totally underestimated the amount of time and or skill it took to get it done. A design blog should endeavor to keep it real in my view.

It is true that people/readers don’t want to see the clutter, the mess, so we don’t often show it unless to illustrate a before and after. But that is different than not sharing honestly that we, as bloggers, designers, gardeners, etc., live with messes at times and our homes are not perfect all the time. I feel so strongly that authenticity should be at the core of every post we write. If we are not honest with our readers, how can they trust what we offer them in posts? Do we set up unrealistic expectations that our readers should have a perfect abode and if they don’t, should they be made to feel like failures? I have always felt that every one of us has unique gifts and talents. We all, yes, all of us carry our own doubts about ourselves and or our abilities to complete certain projects. Long ago, from the remarkable wisdom of older women who crossed my path in life, I learned that you will suffer in life if you do not become who you were meant to be, but that to do it, you must proceed with becoming real with yourself. That happens when you are open and honest not just with yourself, but with others.

I ask myself when I see a video like this, is it just me? There is no way that this videoed end result was achieved by a single person! Perhaps I would even appreciate it more if I saw more about the process. It doesn’t just magically happen. Project concepts alone require consideration, planning, purchasing  and often re thinking. If it was completed by a single person, then that amount of time required seems a waste to me. All the money and time could have been spent on making hundreds of children happy, or hospital patients happy or something other than just one family and their social network. 34,000 hearts? Dang, it took me some time to just string a few dozen hearts together!!! I guess it is the extreme excess that gnaws at me. Do the members of that family feel any more loved than one where Mom just baked a favorite dessert, maybe doing it together, imperfectly as children often do, and bought or made a special gift for their child? I had KBJ look at the video and photos and then I asked him that if you were my husband and I did this, how would you feel in front of your co-workers if they visited your home. “I would die” he said.

I think my reaction was in part the straw that broke the camels back. In design, I look at so many  homes before finding even one that I deem worthy of publishing as an example of good design. The architecture of so many homes is ugly, unbalanced, and the interiors often as bad or worse. I am talking multi million dollar homes in many cases. Money does not always buy classic style, sophistication, elegance. Some of my favorite homes have been average sized (which is now >2500 sq ft in the US) or smaller, sometimes larger. When I post a larger home, it is usually because there were good design decisions made and any home owner can relate to the examples. I certainly hope I am not presenting them as homes you should aspire to in size or money spent designing and furnishing them. That is not ever my intention. I simply want to inspire and assist you in finding your own style and create a home that reflects that. As well, to show that it can often be done in simple and inexpensive ways. And sometimes, share for the simple pleasure of “if only”.

It is hard to make an absolute judgement on these things, so I guess one person’s whimsy is another’s excess. As my Grandfather used to say, “whatever floats your boat”. I seem to see a trend in our country that more is always better, and I struggle with that. JMHO and I felt a need to get it off my mind. If you like this kind of decor, that’s fine, but don’t ask me how to achieve it.  It is out of my realm and more an endeavor for event planners

I do follow some blogs, and here are two, among several, that are about as authentic as you can get, and I love them both for it. Sawdust Girl, and The White Buffalo Styling Company

So my dear readers, now is the time to speak your peace. I am clothed, padded, and helmeted and I can take it. Oh! and yes, I am lying down.    laters, charisse


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Comments

  1. I am almost speechless! Talk about a frightful obsession!! I agree that the money could have been otherwise well spent. The video definitely lacks authenticity! More like a movie set….
    Thx for sharing, Charisse . Love your blogs!! 😘😘♥️♥️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️♥️
    (Sorry, just had to do that! 🌹)

    Victoria

  2. After careful consideration of the “heart/valentine house” I decided to throw myself in the mud!!! I wondered where you were going with the first pic of the elephant as I had recently finished a book about these amazing animals!! Just think how all the money to “heart up” could have benefitted the elephant sanctuary where the abused and neglected are now taken care of in one of several sanctuaries in the USA. Or how about giving or setting up a fund to help people pay huge medical bills for their pets. So many other places to spend money worthwhile….Okay I’m way over the top with my opinion but that’s me and I have dog hair everywhere! One good heart is enough for me!

  3. Rebecca Dexter :

    I don’t really think that people are that naive that they imaginet a home looks like a “photo shoot” 24/7. In fact, that is my problem with a lot of very modern design…it looks like no one lives there. I follow bloggers mainly to get some ideas or just to enjoy their creativity. Any home that looks like a magazine picture, all of the time, must not have animals, children, husbands or the owner is single and over the top anal. I imagine that most of us realize that what is out of camera view may be a bit different that what we are seeing.and is certainly OK. My house was on a home tour one year and we worked for a month getting it perfect…the day after the tour it was back to dog noses and dust bunnies. A word about dog smudges on your windows or doors…I used to get so upset about my patio doors that always looked like someone had smeared butter half way up…that was until we lost the dogs and then I realized that I would have given anything to have those nose prints back….those fur babies were much more important than clean windows.

  4. I love to decorate my mantle on our fireplace!!

    • I like doing mantles as well. If the video had stopped at the mantle I would have reacted differently.The hearth represents home and it is the natural place to play it up during holidays. charisse

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