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FAVOURITE HOME STYLING MOMENTS + WHY I STOPPED STYLING PEOPLE’S HOMES

About 3 months ago, in April, I decided I didn’t want to style people’s homes anymore. It was a hard decision to make, and one I had been sitting on for at least a year by the time I made up my mind.

By then I had been doing it for fun for about 2 years, and what started out as a little hobby became something a bit bigger than I thought it would be. I couldn’t believe that people actually wanted to pay me to style their spaces. I wasn’t even actively looking for clients, I was just having fun posting things I liked and bits from our home, and people would come to me and let me spend their money and live vicariously through their wallets, inspired by Pinterest and numerous home decor Instagram accounts, blogs and videos. It sounds crazy, but that’s how I got into interior styling. At some point I even thought I could turn it into a proper business and maybe even slowly transition into doing it full time once it was able to take care of my bills.

Then one day, while stressing over a budget (I do not enjoy Excel sheets and numbers in general) and trying to get a client to understand why I was asking for more money to buy the stuff they needed in their house to achieve the aesthetic they wanted, I realised that it was sucking all the joy out of me. And then there was the one time a client told me she wanted a “transparent wood frame”. I was like: ma’am, have you ever seen a see-through tree? It. Just. Wasn’t. Making. Sense.

I had slowly grown to hate the late nights spent balancing spreadsheets, the haggling, the relentless updating and asking for permission to buy stuff I knew would work, the micromanaging, the phone calls and small talk, and the near constant state of anxiety I was in. At some point I wasn’t sleeping well because my brain wouldn’t shut down – I was constantly worrying about projects and imagining everything that could go wrong.

What once gave me deep joy and satisfaction (I love seeing the transformation of rooms and entire houses) was now a source of resentment and paralysing fear. I would have literal nightmares, dreaming about losing money, walls falling, paint colours going wrong, people getting electrocuted on site, being accused of being a fraud: all that horrible, horrible stuff.

So I quit. I decided I wouldn’t do it anymore. I was miserable. I handed over projects to other stylists who I believed could do a good job and declined new ones while trying to finish what I had already committed to and began. I started saying no to the little favours clients would ask me to do, because I just wanted to wrap up and be done with it. I had checked out.

It’s been about 5 weeks now since I completed my last project. I do not miss it. At all. I love having free time to myself, not spending nearly every waking moment not spent on my main job (I do have one of those) doing something that was no longer serving me. I love consuming interior styling content purely for learning and entertainment, not like I’m prepping for an exam.

I’m in a much better head space now, and it’s because I chose to walk away from what was no longer making me happy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m truly grateful to those who entrusted me with their spaces, who by having faith in me allowed me to have faith in myself, and who let me, someone who did not study interiors and had zero professional experience with it, play with their money – that is a MASSIVE show of trust.

Freeing myself from that allowed me to get back to this – writing. I don’t know whether this is a forever goodbye to styling gigs, but in the meantime, I’ll be sharing interior styling content from past projects and from our home, which is where I’m concentrating my energy. In case you’re wondering, yes, we moved house. No, I will not be giving a house tour like I did with our old apartment, but I’ll share snippets and styling tips I’ve picked up over the years, starting with this: a little showcase of seven of my current favourite styling moments in our home.

Scroll down for details!

Details

Paint colour / Jotun Paints in Jazz White

Framed polaroids / Pic Yako

Runner / Africa Traders

Pendant light / Noor Lighting, Sarit Centre

Custom console, dining table, bone garlands / Santana Africa

Mirror, dining table chairs / Odds & Ends

Pillar candle holders, textured vases, decorative boxes / Décor Gallery

Hexagon candle holder / old, Target

Wooden bowl / Maasai Market, Prestige Plaza

Brass leopard / Mr. Price

Framed Nairobi print / Prints KE

Sisal carpet / Tile & Carpet Centre

Chandelier, wall brackets / Meydan Lightings

Wooden tray on dining table / Tira Studio

Custom bookshelf / Muundo

Bath & Bodyworks candle / Treasured Scents

Candle care set / Eclectic Décor

Flowers / The Fresh Blooms Kenya

Leather accent chair / Ashley Furniture

Custom wool carpet / Marathon Weavers (Miriam +254 720 380165)

Black stool / Afrodutch Collections

Pillows, leather pillow cover, black & white pillow covers / Smartlady Home

White throw blankets / Smartlady Home

Green velvet pillow & pillow cover / Luxe Feather Cushions

Coffee table & TV stand / Kashmir Arts, Sarit Centre

Coffee table book, Not African Enough / The Nest Collective, via Sunny Dolat

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And remember, you owe it to yourself to walk away from anything that does not serve you or help you become who you should be. What’s right for you will feel right – even when it doesn’t make sense to others.

XO,

Shiro

The Cultured Cow

Comments

  • July 31, 2021
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    Kanze

    Lovely…some of us were low-key wishing you’d style our houses in future .Anyway happy for you and cheers to making that tough decision.

  • July 31, 2021
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    Nyachomba Kariuki

    Thanks for sharing and being vulnerable, it takes courage to stop doing something that once brought joy. Even more thanks for sharing snippets of your beautiful home with us. Can we come stay when we are over, I think its a destination wink wink. I am so happy you are back to writing again, can’t wait for more.

  • July 31, 2021
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    Mercy Mumo

    This breaks my heart in so many ways that you stopped styling other people’s spaces. I have been saving up for my home makeover and was hoping to let you spend my .
    That you chose happiness and peace of mind…it’s everything.

  • July 31, 2021
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    Wangeci

    Aww will miss you, loved your styling, learnt alot from you. Follow your heart, do what makes you HAPPY.Looking forward to your decluttering sale from the projects.

  • July 31, 2021
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    Joan Kwamboka

    Amazing work.. plus you have an awesome eye for angles and details.

  • July 31, 2021
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    Shiro

    I did this some years ago when I realized that my creative exploration had become a business that I couldn’t seem to make profitable and the stress was killing me. Funny enough now I just do that stuff for fun and have discovered so many other creative pursuits I enjoy (not for profit). Sometimes monetizing takes the joy out of it, at least for me it did. I totally relate!

  • July 31, 2021
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    Velma Songole

    Shiro, you are my inspiration. My mind is not even ready to accept the fact that you’ve stopped doing projects. It breaks my heart literally. But again, you have made a bold move. I wish you the very best in writing. I’m also an interior designer and I consider you as one of the best interior designers in Kenya. I’d personally rank you at number 1. I just wish you could continue doing projects but I totally understand as per your explanation to why not. Even so, you still remain to be the best interior design whom I look up to. All the best in writing!! Continue to shine on as you always do.

  • July 31, 2021
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    Carol Wambui

    I enjoy your penned thoughts far much more than I enjoy your styling, which is also great by the way. I love it here❤️

  • August 1, 2021
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    John Kariuki

    – Of importance is your happiness. Lovely home.

  • August 1, 2021
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    Carol Wambugu

    Your home is soo beautiful . You inspire me. Blessings ☺️

  • August 1, 2021
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    Raycee

    This was relatable and I loved how you put it. I can’t wait to see more of your content.

  • August 1, 2021
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    Christine

    You have such a beautiful home. Thank you for sharing little snippets of your spaces.

  • August 1, 2021
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    Mbithe

    I could totally relate to the feeling of dealing with side projects, it’s all fun and games untill you are drained. I loved reading your blog:)

  • August 1, 2021
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    Millicent Sethaile

    So happy you did what is good for your well-being and peace of mind. You have such a beautiful home, everything blends in well.love love it.

  • August 1, 2021
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    IRENE

    Welcome back! We missed this while we also enjoyed seeing the space transformations. Thank you for the reminder that I can check out of an “option” if it’s not working for me or giving joy. It’s a very brave decision.

  • August 1, 2021
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    Ivy Mauwa

    I love the new home very beautiful.
    Glad you decided to follow what makes you happy.
    Happy new month!

  • August 1, 2021
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    annebiwott@gmail.com

    Be happy cultured cow…i love your content keep inspiring my sisters and I…we deeply love you

  • August 1, 2021
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    Mary

    Amazing content and good quality pictures. Thank you.

  • August 1, 2021
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    Dora

    I just started a new intense job and also went back to school. Trying to give to both has me having a constant far off headache, breakout and sleeping badly due to assignments that have to be handed in or work. Made the decision to take less units next semester and am already the lighter for it. We have to do what works best for our well being….by all means take your break/do what it takes for more joy. The staircase in your new home ❤️

  • August 1, 2021
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    Ngozi Faith

    I now believe that change can come out of pure will. We don’t have to wait till things get worse to take a different path.
    The new space seems airy to give more room for more growth! All the best

  • August 1, 2021
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    Terry

    This was/is my exact dilemma, I started decorating people’s homes/offices out of a passion I had but experiencing people’s crazy demands just makes me shudder at the thought of doing one more person’s home. Thank you for sharing this story I can relate.

  • August 1, 2021
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    Shiro

    Lovely read. And I salute you for the courage. I draw a lot of inspiration from your style.

  • August 1, 2021
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    Maggie

    OMG thankyou so much for sharing …
    For being a delight . I’ve been wanting to get into styling and designing but been holding back because I really don’t want my life to be public …. This just shed some light on my really serious crossroads
    Honestly I’d love the headache but I can’t decide if I really want the attention especially in my personal space .
    Your home is absolutely beautiful ❤️

  • August 2, 2021
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    Gina Mari

    Cultured. I totally feel you, especially on crunching numbers (we chatted a bit about on IG)…. this a big step towards your wellbeing. Kudos mama.

  • August 10, 2021
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    Samuel

    Love the refreshed look & feel. Amazing content too.

  • August 24, 2021
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    Vallary

    I am a silent follower on IG and I love love your work. Keep inspiring us

  • September 8, 2021
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    Caroline

    Thanks for sharing and being vulnerable. Sometimes we just need to step back a bit. At least we can still enjoy your writing.

  • September 14, 2021
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    Nya

    Brilliant. Love your mastery of language. Be you…

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