The Cost of Being Home-Decorating Challenged

Here’s the deal. I’m a woman. I have all the right parts and a decent amount of estrogen to prove it. And yet, I don’t have any interest in decorating my house. Yes, home decorating is just one of the many things our society associates with the X-chromosome for reasons that both perplex and frustrate me. It’s almost like I didn’t get the magical uterine pixie dust that makes you want to buy shop for nick-nacks and throw pillows. In fact, I don’t even get throw pillows. They are mainly in the way when you want to sit down, so you basically spend countless hours picking them up off the floor, fluffing them, and rearranging them.

Okay, maybe, just maybe, you might need one or two throw pillows next to the couch arm for when you take a nap. But since I haven’t taken a nap on my couch since I was in college, and then didn’t care if I was leaning my head on a brick, I’m not entirely sold on that argument. Beyond that? The main function of throw pillow is to “dress up” your couch…make it look pretty. So, let me get this straight. I barely have time to shop and find clothing garments to dress me up and make me look pretty, but I’m supposed to devote a good portion of my time and energy doing this for my couch?

But we do it. Right? I’ve been doing it. I’ve been spending time looking for ideas at that incessantly depressing “Your House is Ugly and Outdated” website also called, Houzz. I’ve gone to fabric stores and cut out fabric swatches, dutifully recording the name and stuffing it into a Ziploc bag. I made my husband come with me and had to endure him getting sympathy for having to participate in such a horrific outing because he’s a man. This unfair gender bias confirms my X-chromosome theory or my own theory that I might actually be a dude. Incidentally, all that work? The swatches are sitting in a kitchen drawer never to be looked at again.

No surprise, I’m unable to visualize pillows from fabric swatches. I turn to online shopping at the likes of Pottery Barn and Serena & Lily. But, because I have zero interest and/or confidence in home decorating, this takes me about a month. I look at pillows, fill my cart daily, but never check out. Thus, each day, the contents of my cart disappears and I have to start over. My life becomes an exercise of futility, and my indignation over how throw pillows falls under my domain grows.

I quickly learn that throw pillow prices are about the same as an actual King’s ransom. You have to buy the cover and the insert separately, perpetuating the idea that you should change your pillows regularly, I guess. But hold it. You really can’t because no two stores have the same size pillows. 18×18, 20×20, or 19.3×19.3 squares, because there is nothing like forced brand loyalty to make you hate the brand.

Finally, I can’t take it anymore and want “throw pillows” crossed off my to do list more than I want my kids to go to college. I boldly “Proceed to Checkout” and somewhere at Serena & Lily a choir of angels busts out into a chorus of hallelujahs. I type in my discount code but somehow the total is more?!?! Turns out the coupon they offer is only good for like three throw pillows from their 1998 inventory that you couldn’t even sell to an inept home decorator like me.

It’s then, after all this mother freakin’ time and energy, they spring their “Shipping Costs” on me, which should more accurately be called, “Tariffs from King George III for Disloyal Americans.” I can’t, I mean, can’t in good consciousness pay this price. I consider tossing some tea in the Boston Harbor and starting a Shipping Cost Revolution against not just Serena & Lily, but Pottery Barn too. Although I hate PB a little less because at least they have stores near me. Still, their largest, most expensive shipping items, ah-hem…bean bags, are, of course, “Online Only.” Bastards.

Now, I have to decide how much I want the pillows, and which is more cost efficient — buying the pillows from them, or flying to China and getting them myself; I have always wanted to see the Great Wall. So, I reset the entire no-win time-wasting cycle of filling the cart each day and then balking at the last second. Until one day when I realize the time I’ve spent thinking about throw pillows, and shopping for throw pillows, and planning my Shipping Cost Revolution might be better spent on my writing career and I say screw it and buy the stupid pillows.

Well, you know exactly what comes next, don’t you? Yup. They arrive and I hate them. Hate. I can’t even believe I can hate an inanimate object as much as I hate these pillows. I stuff them with the inserts and display them on couch and even my couch is like, “These look stupid.” To which, I’m like “Nobody asked you.” Back they go. More time removing the inserts and packing them back up in the individual bags and back in the box, muttering to myself about who I hate more…myself or the pillows? It’s a toss up.

I fill out the paper return form and am not surprised to see there is only space for 3 items to be returned. I defiantly ignore it and write, in all caps, “RETURNING ALL” and under reasons I list, “Shipping Cost Revolution.” Then I march them into the UPS store where I’m informed the cost to return is $63, to which I immediately march out of the store and head for the good old U.S. Post Office where their motto is, “Yes, we are inconvenient and our lines are long, but we are cheaper than those UPS assholes.” Word.

All in, my throw pillow buying probably cost me about $100 in shipping and like 5 million in lost work hours. Oh, and, small detail, I still don’t have any pillows. Par for the course for the home-decorating challenged. Being home-decorating challenged and shopping online is a little like gambling; You always lose money, but you can justify it with all the “fun” you’ve had. In the end, someone needs to be blamed for this waste of time and money, so I’m blaming society’s unjust expectations of me and my lack of magical uterine pixie dust.


  1. Marife on November 30, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    On a day like this when I don’t have the oomph to finish decorating for Christmas , this has cheered me up immensely ??Just love your blog ! Looking forward to the next one ?

    • M. on December 3, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Thanks! I’m writing a ton of them but can’t seem to finish anything these days. I’m using holidays as my excuse! xo

  2. Shawn on November 15, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    Hooray!! I can relate to this! We bought a house a few years ago, and the sellers indicated that they were willing to negotiate on some of the furniture they wouldn’t need because they were downsizing…I was like, “how much for everything?!”

    Love the blogs- keep them coming!

  3. Jennifer on November 11, 2015 at 6:52 am

    What happened to the cost of pillows? I’ve been looking for some as well, and even stores like Home Goods and on Amazon, they start at $25! And that’s for the little ones! I’m sure I could make some, but that would require me to haul the sewing machine out of the basement, where it is so content.

    • M. on November 11, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      Right? I thought I’d splurge on them so I could be done with it. Seriously considered dusting off my sewing machine today. Do you have a camera in my brain?

  4. Chris M on November 10, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Very funny post. I too am lacking the X but it is for cooking. I go through all the same shenanigans that you did for the pillows but with ingredients. The problem is I can’t return the ingredients once I’ve tried them out. Ugh!!!!

  5. kerry on November 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    The fact that you even know about Serena and Lily impressed me! I was on the prowl for the perfect throw pillows for my bedroom and stumbled upon some surprisingly good ones from…Walmart of all places. It will be our dirty secret!

  6. Ann on November 10, 2015 at 11:19 am

    OK — this is making me look bad, because honestly, your house looks uber decorated compared to mine. I actually was in my first house for thirteen years before I painted my master bathroom walls, or hung anything on them….not an ounce of decorating dust for me 🙂

    thanks for your blogs, I love them!

    • M. on November 10, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Curtains? Forget curtains. That is way too advanced for me. Thanks, Ann!

  7. Traci on November 10, 2015 at 10:17 am

    So good to read!! It’s an embarrassing little secret that I’ve kept—lacking that chromosome that makes one want to decorate. Even worse now, my boyfriend is so much better at it than I am. Here’s how I make myself feel better about it…my teenaged boys fall asleep on the couch and just drool and sweat all over those over-priced pillows!

    • M. on November 10, 2015 at 11:23 am

      My husband is better too. So true. My old pillows are gross!!!

  8. Alex Gormley on November 10, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Thank you! O.M.G. Thank you for writing this. Having four kids, one of whom checks the garbage each morning for the stuff I have thrown out the night before (now I throw directly into the outside bin and blame the rest on our old dog peeing on it), I get the hatred of tsotchkes. Decluttering is underrated. Check out She is my hero.
    As usual, Meredith, you deliver some good s*** here. xo

  9. Amy on November 9, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Apparently, I got TOO much of the decorating gene (must have gotten your dose), because I would love nothing more than to spend all the hours of my days decorating and shopping for decorating stuff! For real. (Which is why I went into interior design- but being more on the commercial architecture/construction side of it–there is no decorating to be done at work! ). Some day, I will quit my day job and flip houses and then stage & decorate them! I cannot wait!!!!! In the meantime, I am going to decorate the crap out of my house (seasonal bedding anyone?!). I have a problem….

    • M. on November 10, 2015 at 8:25 am

      I’m so jealous! I get especially jealous at the Holidays. I can’t pull that shit together. It’s like I’m actually missing a gene or something.

  10. becky langis on November 9, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    I can’t agree with anything in this post – I love throw pillows so much that I change them seasonally 🙂 This is the first time I disagree w/ your writing – but still loved every word! Can’t wait for the next one!

    • M. on November 10, 2015 at 8:27 am

      Ha! You interior designers are lucky so many of us are home-decorating inept. You should share this with your clients and drum up business. I will now pay any amount of money for my house to be decorated just so I don’t have to think about it. I’ll strip, sell drugs, whatever it takes! 😉

  11. Anissa DeMatteo on November 9, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I share your pain. I went with pillows from Home Goods!

    • M. on November 10, 2015 at 8:27 am

      I’m in good company!

  12. sandy on November 9, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    looks lovely to me. perfect minimalist. clean and efficient. doesn’t have to be frou-frou to be well decorated. too many (including myself EXCEPT in the bedroom) tend to OVER decorate, which just looks messier faster

    • M. on November 10, 2015 at 8:28 am

      OMG, whenever I get down on myself for sucking at decorating, I play the minimalist card and try to really embrace it!

  13. Elaine Grice on November 9, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    I am right there with you — I am also home decorating challenged. I feel like I’m in shoppers hell at Wayfairs or any of those home goods stores. There are just too many choices! Give me any chance to shop at REI or any other outdoor store and I am HAPPY! Love your blog posts… keep them coming.

    • M. on November 10, 2015 at 8:29 am

      So glad I’m not alone. I’m the worst shopper. I want to cry just thinking about it. Thanks on the blogs…I have a few more coming soon!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Send this to a friend

Hi there,

Thought you might enjoy this blog. Pass it on!

"The Cost of Being Home-Decorating Challenged":