I really really really didn’t want to have a Pinterest wedding. That is not to say that I didn’t go to Pinterest for ideas or inspiration to share with Josh and our vendors, but I did not want to have the kind of wedding that people looked at and immediately thought, “Oh yeah! I saw that on Pinterest!” I did not want lace and burlap. I did not want mason jars. Nothing against people, some of my dearest friends included, who have gone that route. But I knew that none of that felt really authentic to me and the kind of wedding I wanted. Don’t ask me for a single word to describe our wedding aesthetic…it just wasn’t Pinterest!
We didn’t decorate the church at all, so you might call that minimalist. We did decorate the reception venue with old books stacked on tables, and table numbers painted onto the covers of hardcover copies of the collector set of Reader’s Digest best short stories. There were live flowers arrangements on every table, and silver “dot curtains” in every window. The space felt really “us”, a kind of old school urban space updated to feel new. You may quickly see that anything specific to our wedding “vibe” would be really hard to put into Pinterest.
I searched “old school modern urban book theme wedding” just to verify, and you don’t get a lot of specific results! 😂
When it came to building our house, however, I took an entirely different approach! We had no more than put the earnest money down on our lot, than I had completely designed our entire house on Pinterest. I had boards for rooms, for paint colors, for decor, for exterior designs, for flooring. In designing our kitchen, I sent Josh a picture and said just build me this! Which at the time, overwhelmed by the prospect of the enormity of the scale of the project to come, seemed like a really good way to manage all the decisions we were going to have to make!
It turned out, it was not a great strategy, a reality made painfully clear on two separate occasions both in regards to our kitchen.
This is the picture I first sent Josh when I said, “build me this!”
There are still many many many things I like about this kitchen, and it was one of the very first, most popular kitchens that came up when I searched “craftsman kitchen.” Which is great, except 1. It’s not really a craftsman style anything, and 2. The reason I liked this kitchen were for more aesthetic reasons than build reasons, and my husband is an innately “build” kind of guy. So while I was thinking, “Yes give me crown moulding and those variegated countertops.” Josh was thinking, “Ok, what kind of wood are those cabinets? What’s the grain type? And do you really want raised panel cabinet fronts?”
The answer to those questions, it turns out, was much more substantial than the counters and white subway tile. Because using that picture, Josh picked the wood type for the whole house…cabinets, built ins, mantle, doors, etc. It’s maple, which is great. Though an incredibly tight grained, notoriously difficult wood to stain. We’re staining every piece of wood in our house, so I might have picked something else had I realized that the trending picture I found didn’t actually jive with what we wanted for the house. Also…I don’t want raised panels. So there’s that!
To remedy this situation, we designed flat panel doors and then started the hunt for a stain color that worked well and covered evenly on the maple. I immediately began Pinterest searching maple cabinets, and much to my chagrin, found that almost all the trending maple cabinets were light, not stained but just sealed in their natural wood tone. We tried a lot of options, and none of them looked great. Then we came across a dark stain, a deep espresso, that covered well, and immediately I looked at every trending espresso kitchen to find something that I could justify wanting in my kitchen. We eventually settled on this look…
Which again is a fine looking kitchen, and was again trending nicely in the “modern kitchen design” category. But I didn’t really want a modern kitchen. And I didn’t really think “settled” was a feeling you should have when designing and building your house from the ground up! So I was moderately content…until I panicked!
It was after we had ordered the stain for those dark cabinets that one day I just started browsing random kitchens. I told myself it was just for fun, but truly I knew I was unsettled about what we had decided for the kitchen cabinets and design, a color and “look” that would carry through the whole house as the built ins, doors, and mantle would be stained to match. I got off Pinterest, and was just searching design sites, looking at promotional photos and independent designer portfolios. Somewhere on page three or four of a Google search, I came across a new picture. This one…
My stomach immediately clenched. Ever look at a picture and think this is what my house should be…not in a “if I had a million dollars and an HGTV expert I’d make over my whole house” kind of way, but in a “this picture is what I want my home to feel like” kind of way? That was this picture for me. I went home and explained as much to Josh, making the somewhat absurd argument that “If you look at these three pictures, only one of them really feels like us!” I thought that emotionally based argument wouldn’t work, but he couldn’t have agreed more. And so we were off to start the search for new stain.
We eventually settled on something that didn’t really match any of the kitchens I would have sent him as a model.
Since that double kitchen Pinterest snafu, I’ve largely shied away from social media when faced with decisions about the house. It turns out my gut instinct is a much better gauge of my taste and preferences than what a website or app tells me I should like. It’s not a bad place to gather information or look for ideas, but at the end of the day, when the chips are down and it’s decision time, handing over a picture and saying “just do this!” inherently sets one up for disappointment when the results can’t be duplicated exactly, and the actual product feels inauthentic and wrong.
Just about anything “trends” at some point or another. This mornings trending Twitter hashtags are #nationalcheeseburgerday #cheeseburgers and #sunrisers, and these things are meant to have some kind of inherent pull, interest, or importance to us.
I’m definitely not a trendsetter today as I don’t eat a lot of red meat, so won’t be partaking in a cheeseburger, and did see the sunrise this morning, but certainly out of necessity rather than choice, and I didn’t take a picture.
Just for fun this morning, I looked up the top trending Pinterest posts for “marriage advice.” The number one result was a little ditty called: “5 things men need in their wife” and after I stopped giggling about the absurd double entendre in the title, I read the article to discover what things I needed to be doing for Josh:
- I need to respect his decisions and keep my opinion to myself
- I need to be beautiful
- I need to be available for sex when he wants…or in the phrasing of the article…NEEDS it
- I need to support his dreams
- I need to make an adequate effort to be a homemaker (and I quote, “A man isn’t looking for a wife so that he has to take care of the house.”)
Let me tell you, by this meter stick, my marriage isn’t “trending” or very trendy. Sure I try to do those things…some of the time. Ok…I’ve probably never kept my opinion entirely to myself! 😂 But I’m honestly bristling at the notion that I should always be beautifully done up and ready for sex after I’ve cleaned the house, got dinner on the table, and folded the laundry.
If that’s what “trending” relationships look like, I don’t want to be trendy! And honestly, that’s just not the way our house goes most of the time (as evidenced by the mountain of clothes currently occupying the chair in our bedroom, and the takeout containers from dinner last night in the garbage bin! But there are a lot of people out there today reading this advice, liking this advice, sharing this advice.
Worse yet, we call people that create this kind of content “influencers.” Let me suggest that while it might be harmless to let someone influence your decision to by a certain throw pillow, or pick a certain paint color, there should be far fewer people allowed to influence your relationship. What “feels” right in your relationship, might not be trendy, or social media ready, but it doesn’t need to be provided that it feels real to you and your partner! If what you’re doing is inauthentic you might be able to keep it up for a little while, and you might get what you want part of the way part of the time, but eventually you’ll have that gut check moment when you realize what you really want and find it’s different from what you’ve been trying to convince yourself is ok.
And your ok might very look different than someone else’s ok.
I recently listened to a podcast in which a woman who was engaged told the story of her relationship to the host. She talked about why she wanted to get married, based largely on other people’s opinions of her life with her partner, including an engagement story that she was upset about because it wasn’t the perfect kind of proposal that she could photograph, talk about with friends, and share on social media. After all the storytelling, the host finally asked her, “But is he a good partner?” suggesting that if he was, that other stuff really wouldn’t matter. The guest paused long enough that I wondered if my headphones had switched off before morosely responding, “No!” Buried in her efforts to present her life a certain way and her concerns about what others were thinking was the truth of her relationship, which was to say she didn’t even want to be in it anymore! By the end of the episode, she’d talked through the whole situation and decided she wanted to call off the engagement.
Buried in the depths of most relationship advice is the truth that the relationship you have will never come from the same cookie cutter as someone else’s relationship. Comparing and trying to match it up is futile.
Buried in my kitchen Pinterest board was the truth that the kitchen I wanted, and the one we’re building was not a kitchen on Pinterest. There wasn’t a picture I could just hand over and say “build this!”
You don’t need to be trending, you need to be you! Your partner doesn’t need to be trending, he/she needs to be a full, fair partner in life. Pick out your paint colors, pick out your outfits, pick out your tv shows or your vacation spots based on your social media feed, but don’t think you’ll be able to pick out…or pick on…your partner based on what other people are doing, saying, or being. At the end of the day you don’t need to be treding, and you don’t need an influencer. You need trust. You need love. You need authenticity and loyalty.
You don’t need 29 tips for a hotter marriage tomorrow. You just need to be you!