I have had my fair share of moves and homes. Because of my moving frequency, I ended up in furnished apartments where I did not have the headache of shipping big furniture across the globe. To add a personal touch, I used décor items which remind me of the places I have been to – lamps from China, boxes from Israel, table runners from Laos, cushion covers from India. It comes to no surprise that over time, this led to my business Pelagona. Hence, my rooms are a colourful mix of things from around the world. Some match, some do not. When I bought them, I did not have a design concept in mind. Some pieces, I later found copied and mass produced by big retailers. Others are finds which will never be copied at all – or at least their stories cannot be. These items have travelled with me around the world and wherever I moved in, they made me feel at home.
Now that I am decorating yet another apartment, this time an unfurnished one, I dove into online furniture retailers, Pinterest boards and design magazines. I love the latter, but mostly only from an aesthetics perspective. In most of the homes, I do not see anyone really live in there – the design often does not factor in a love for books, a kitchen in which you really cook or messy toddlers. I rather think of these home edits the way I look at fashion editorials – it is about the photography of the setting, a certain mood, an artistic perspective. But throughout my research, these home editorials where the only thing which displayed some kind of personality or individualism.
While searching for more “realistic” furniture, I expanded the field to online magazines, Pinterest and Instagram. When I entered “living room ideas” on Pinterest, I got a long list of pins all with the same look – white and natural tones, a crème or wooden element, golden frames or mirrors. And please do not get me going about crème macramé wall hangers… (In middle school, we all had to learn how to make macramés and I was not a particular fan.) All of these rooms looked the same. I switched to Instagram to get some ideas and saw the exactly same. Every single desk of the influencers looks alike – white, maybe a bit of pale pink, peonies on the desk top, golden details, Jo Malone candles. The same holds true for the bits and pieces you see from their living rooms or bedrooms. (Side note: have you ever noticed that they rarely show their bathrooms or kitchens? Let alone that we mostly see the same corner decorated in a different way? What does this say about these influencers? Do they really live the way or do they just appear to have these apartments? Maybe it is rather similar to what I wrote in my Postcard about minimalism that this is what they want their user base to believe. Nobody will see the ugly tiles in the bathroom or the old kitchen.)
Instagram is a business and the influencers making money on the platform have to play by its rules to be successful. Hence, we see the same design and colour scheme over and over again. It feels that Millennials and Gen-Zs all live in the same apartment supplied by Ikea and the same décor/candle companies.
The reason for this white and “airy” design aesthetic is a simple one: for years, Instagram or rather its user base has been promoting white and airy photographs. The reason is a practical one: the pictures we see on Instagram are quite small – depending on your phone, the average size of the posts is about 6 x 10 cm. In these small formats, patterns tend to look messy. If you want your product to stand out, it is better to go for a solid and lighter background. I tend to see this too – pictures on Pelagona which have the airy, desaturated look with less contrast, tend to perform better than the ones with bright and saturated colours. Which is a shame, because I personally prefer the latter and it is also a more realistic depiction of the products.
I tried to keep looking for more unique ideas and furniture – or at least I wanted to find furniture which was not white or “shabby chic” – and started to browse through the online retailers. I did find other styles but across most of the platforms, it was also very repetitive – dusky pink velvet and gold finishes, petrol colour with rose gold details. Hipster-style side boards and fifties-style chairs. Again, I did not really find anything remotely individualistic. It seems that even though the range of online furniture retailers has never been as broad as it is today, they all source from the same suppliers or go for the same designs.
Our homes are a reflection of our personality. My ideal version of a home is something warm and cosy, a place to which I enjoy coming back and which reminds me of the places I have travelled and the people I love. I do not want to come home to a cold room whose sole function is to look good online and which looks like any other room currently posted on social media. Décor for me serves a bigger purpose than having a “prop” for my pictures. They tell stories – of the people who made them, where I bought them or of the particular moment or day when I purchased them.
I hope you all really feel at home in your home. Please do share your favourite websites, brands, retailers or antique dealers for nice furniture – I am always on the lookout for inspiration. Have a great week ahead!