Recently I looked back at the New Year’s resolutions I wrote down in December 2019. Among the entries: eat at new restaurants, travel throughout the West, and book a trip outside the U.S. Then the pandemic hit and those resolutions were promptly abandoned in exchange for bingeing The Crown.
Going into the new year, there are still some resolutions we all have to put on hold for a while longer. But on the flip side, there’s no better time to make a resolution (or two!) that’s focused on your home, whether it be updating a space to meet the latest trends or filling your place with new plant babies. I'd personally like 2021 to be the year I finally trade in my stained hand-me-down futon for an actual couch.
We spoke to 11 interior designers, lifestyle bloggers and DIYers on their own New Year’s resolutions for their businesses and their own homes.
Take a More Mindful Approach
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, lifestyle blogger Lowe Saddler said she has more than she probably should. But they all have a common thread of being more mindful with purchases and actually completing the many projects she starts.
“Basically that means I have to stop hoarding things like candles and art,” Saddler said in an email. “And I have to finally finish the mini refreshes that I’ve been ‘working on’ for months.”
She said her resolutions will help her clear out the clutter in her SoCal apartment and help her start fresh in the new year, especially after the chaos of 2020.
“I’ve been realizing the importance of being more mindful and intentional overall this year, and I think the best place to continue that journey is in the home,” she said. “I spend so much time here, so I want it to feel like a place of good intentions—a place where I can think freely and move freely (without running into boxes!).”
Saddler is also using this year to keep working toward her long-term goal: buying a home.
Stay on Your Creative Toes
Every new year interior designer Fitz Pullins likes to refresh part of his home, whether through new paint, reupholstering furniture or adding a new piece of art. “As a designer, it’s important to stay creatively fulfilled,” he said in an email. “Plus, it’s a nice distraction.”
In the past, he’s repainted his dining room to be a bit more moody and redesigned his bedroom with soothing tones and new furniture. He’s already gotten a head start on his refresh projects this year (“blame it on corona”) by reupholstering his breakfast nook to be durable and inviting with bright colors and fun prints.
“Remember design is a process,” Pullins said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. Start small, like reorganizing an open shelf and adding in new items for an updated look.”
Next up on his list: updating a Cisco Brothers sofa by reupholstering with velvet.
Be Patient & Buy What You Love
But now she’s on to bigger things. She just left her studio behind to move into a larger apartment with two roommates, and their current space is a blank canvas.
Her biggest resolution is to have patience and take her time selecting decor. “It's very easy to buy everything quickly and rush the process, but I want to enjoy it and make sure I'm creating a space I feel comfortable and happy in,” Cibran said in an email.
For Cibran and her roommates, being patient goes hand-in-hand with being thoughtful of where they purchase their items. She said they want to fill their space with second-hand and thrifted decor.
“There's something so challenging and special about finding the perfect gem on Facebook Marketplace or in a thrift shop,” she said. “It's also very cost effective and eco-friendly! Instead of buying a lot of items we kind of like, we want to buy those few items that really excite us so we can be surrounded by things that we love.”
Finally Tackle Those Little Imperfections
Interior designers struggle with procrastination, too.
Going into 2021, interior designer Vikki Long is taking some advice from her business tagline and making her own home her oasis. She’s tackling two big projects: her fireplace and her bathroom countertop.
“The focal point [in my home], which is my fireplace, should feel and fit my personality,” Long said in an email. “And in all honesty, I have wanted to take a sledgehammer to my bathroom countertop since the day I moved in.”
She’s planning to replace the brown countertop with a lighter color and will update the fireplace to have more pizazz—aka, stonework from the hearth to ceiling.
“I do not typically make new year resolutions for my home, but with this being such an unprecedented year and [after] spending so much time at home, it did make me aware that I have spent more time making other people’s home their oasis and that I should do the same for myself,” Long said.
Create and Connect on Social Media
Designer and photographer Brian Pu Ruiz is taking 2021 to focus on showcasing his DIY and home decor work. On his list of resolutions: posting more behind-the-scenes images of his design process, developing a workflow system for himself, creating more TikToks and connecting with other home improvement and decor creators.
“I always make a new Year resolution to be better, learn more and collaborate with others,” he said via email. “That has always been my New Year’s resolution for years, and I've met some amazing creators and [formed] friendships.”
Be More Comfortable in Your Space
With 2020’s safer-at-home guidelines, many people have had to rethink their living spaces to make room for home offices. Together with her husband, home designer Jessica Smith is planning adjustments to her home to optimize functionality. One big project they have planned: building a garage-slash-guest-house, complete with a lofted second floor with a full kitchen and bathroom.
“The garage gives us extra space when guests come to visit, but now that both my husband and I need dedicated office space in our main building, this gives us more square footage for things like tools we currently keep in our mudroom — and his arcade machines,” Smith said via email.
Because building an entire garage, complete with a side-shed attached for Smith’s future DIY projects, is a huge task, she also has smaller resolutions for sprucing up her home. Namely, organizing her pantry with cute labeled baskets, hooks for cookware and placing spices in aesthetically pleasing jars.
“For my mental clarity, I thought it would be a fun and easy project to kick off the new year in an orderly fashion,” she said.
Grow Something New
While home decor designer Bari Ackerman is an expert in design, she’s just starting out in her new gardening hobby. She just installed a 4-by-8 container garden outside her Scottsdale, Ariz., home.
“We are watching the grow chart for desert vegetables and fruits closely and planting as they come up,” Ackerman said via email. “Right now we are planting two kinds of carrots, kale and cilantro. We are total newbies so we are starting very small.”
Her resolution for 2021 is to expand this foundation. Over the next year, she wants to install three more container gardens, a pretty shed for storing tools, and shade structures to protect her veggies from the Arizona sun.
Never Stop Pushing Boundaries
Interior designer Katie Davis has one goal for the new year—growth. She wants to spend the year challenging herself by trying new, bold looks and stepping outside her design comfort zone as much as she can.
“I always want my work to stay fresh, original and up-to-date,” Davis said in an email. “I’ve always been told that if you’re outgrowing yourself (or your work) each year, that’s a good thing!”
She’s tackling 2021 head-on and already has specific ideas she wants to work on, including grasscloth wallpaper, bold accent walls, painting or wallpapering a ceiling and installing board and batten walls. Another resolution on her list: featuring as many small business and independent artists as possible in each of her designs.
Make Rest a Priority
Burnout is real, even when doing work you love. This is why interior designer Alvin Wayne is making it a priority to take one day each week in 2021, like Sunday, to rest and do nothing work related.
“Taking at least one day to rest feeds my creative process to create magical places,” he said via email.
Give Back to the Community
Nicole Cole, CEO and principal designer of vestige HOME, has been brainstorming a quarterly volunteer effort for her team to enact her business goal for 2021: using their design skills and connections to improve a space for a group or person who otherwise might not be able to do so.
“We’re incredibly grateful for our trusting clients and to have a business that is flourishing during these tough times, and we want to give back,” she said in an email.
In 2020, interior designer Natalie Papier made a resolution to turn her family’s new house into a home, so she spent the year working diligently on the interior. Now in 2021, she wants to turn her attention outside the house.
“Focusing on the outdoor spaces is a family goal for me,” she said in an email. “[I want] to have more time to enjoy the beautiful seasons here in Charlotte in our own backyard!”
Papier has already had a pool installed, and she’s picturing the perfect family space of a firepit, hammocks and a projector and screen for outdoor movie nights.