Letting Go with Normcore Decorating Mary Traina

Most everyone has heard of normcore by now – the new, minimal fashion movement that has hip art history majors dressing like Mid-western dads, prioritizing comfort and simplicity over brand and style. Under the rules of normcore, comfortable sneakers, mom-jeans and Hanes t-shirts are fair game for a night out. New York Magazine describes the essence of this new fashion trend like this:

“Normcore isn’t about rebelling against or giving into the status quo; it’s about letting go of the need to look distinctive, to make time for something new.”

For a long time (the past three weeks), the word “normcore” was nothing to me but a fun buzz word to throw around every time I saw someone’s pants ride up revealing chunky, white tube socks or my baby niece wearing a non-descript onesie. Then, I went to Staples for printer ink… and left with a new computer desk and chair. That was the day I realized that normcore isn’t just a joke about clothing; it can also be a cost-effective mentality for decorating an apartment when all the houzz.com browsing in the world can’t make you an interior designer.

You see, late last year, I bought my first new couch and it made me start to wonder if I should be a design person. Sure, I’d owned couches before – but I’d only owned them about as much as you can own, say, a piece of gum your college roommate borrowed from their parent’s basement, chewed up, put back in the wrapper and then left at your apartment when they moved out. This was my first brand new couch. I was the first person to sit on it while eating guacamole and watching Law and Order and that was pretty special to me. This couch quickly became my new baby and I felt pressure, as any mother would, to decorate its nursery (my apartment) in a way that would optimize its potential over the years.

The only problem was that I have never had that coveted “eye for design.” It’s just never been my thing. I like looking at well-decorated apartments and I like to imagine wrapping myself in a robe within those apartments while reading the Sunday paper and drinking a cup of fresh coffee. But for some reason, the gap between my appreciation for nice décor and my ability to achieve it is just too wide. After I got my couch, I did everything I could to close that gap. I signed up for Pinterest and Houzz. I scanned design blogs in one browser while scrolling through the store catalogs, where the featured furniture and accessories had come from, in another. I picked the brains of naturally design-savvy friends endlessly. In the interest of my budget, I even tried to hunt down finds at thrift shops and said things like, “If I just reupholster that, it could work!”

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