The Slow Decorating Movement: Creating a Home Takes Time

Austin Interior Designer Amity Worrel Takes a Look at the Slow Decorating Movement & Its Impact in a Fast-Paced World 

Slow Decorating - Austin Interior Designer

In the days pre-dating the internet, the interior design process by nature was slow. Designers would spend hours perusing showrooms and antique stores in person, hand-sketching room elevations, and assembling (heavy) sample boards to present to clients. There was a sense of intentionality behind every decision. If it wasn’t right, it would take weeks to redo! 

Today, the internet has sped the design process up to a nauseating pace. Endless online product catalogs are available with a click, celebrity designers reveal instant room makeovers by the day, and promises of 2-day shipping lure us into purchases only to pacify our need for instant gratification. This “fast decorating” has no time for intentional decisions, leaving homes in a state of dysfunction masked by the latest trends. Our Austin interior designers have been resistant to fast decor, and it seems like others are starting to see the light. 

Like fast food, fast interiors may look appetizing, but they’re junk. They will satisfy a craving but won’t nourish your home or life. Similarly to the slow food movement, which has taken a conscious return to locally grown ingredients and time-honored recipes, there has been a return to slow decorating. The movement brings intentionality back to design and reminds us that creating a home takes time. 


What is the Slow Decorating Movement? 

Time is an unsung but undeniable power. Creating a home doesn’t happen overnight. To get it right, you must slow down and understand what you truly like and how you want the space to function. The slow decorating movement rejects instant gratification in favor of intentional design. It gives us permission to release ourselves from self-imposed deadlines, contemplate our style, and build a space on our own time rather than the trend cycle. 

Slow Design Movement

Fast design only considers three decision-making factors: necessity, trends, and availability. The thought process goes something like this…“I need a chair to sit in. Mid-century style chairs are trending. This reproduction I found online will ship tomorrow.” Buying furniture becomes an exercise in sourcing the latest trend with free expedited shipping to make the quickest decision possible and move on to the next. Quick choices often lead to mistakes.  

Slow decorating allows us to hone our tastes and make better decisions. Rejecting our culture of multitasking haste, the movement lets us take our time and weigh all the factors important to us. We’re allowed to consider things like our personal style, our home’s architecture and layout, where the sun catches through the window, and, maybe most importantly, comfort. That’s right. Fast design moves so quickly, we didn’t even consider sitting in the chair to see if it was comfortable! 

Fast design equals poor choices. Allowing time for intentional research ensures we can make the right decisions for all aspects of our homes — and they don’t have to be made in a day. The luxury of time allows us to constantly build upon our spaces for a layered, comfortable, and personalized home. 

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My Days of Snail Mail Interior Design 

I began reflecting on slower, more intentional processes when my kids asked me what people did before the internet to find information. I described trips to the library to consult encyclopedias, going to newsstands for the latest magazines, and planning time to sit down for the late-night news. They were fascinated at how cumbersome, planned, and intentional it all was. After all, asking Siri what colors go with blue is a much different act than pulling out a book on color theory at the library.  

Needless to say, working at the start of my career was very different than it is today. One of my longest client relationships began 22 years ago, and we have gotten very close since. Our first project together was decorating her 11-room traditional home in Shaker Heights, Ohio, which I conducted from New York City. We had to send lab-developed photos to each other via snail mail to keep up with the progress. It’s almost unbelievable two decades later, as I am working on long-distance projects in Cape Cod, Philadelphia, and Palm Springs, where I can see real-time videos instantly. 

While the internet has helped ease logistics (and reduce postage), my interior design process has remained slow and complex through the years. Creating a home takes time, and some of my favorite projects have been years in the making. 


Home Takes Time: A Look at Long-Term Design Projects

Society Hill 

In our Society Hill project, that same client from 22 years ago was looking to downsize and came to us to reinvent her recently purchased 1800s Philadelphia rowhouse. While we no longer communicate over snail mail, the process is not much faster—and that’s how we want it. No instant reveals here. We know good things take time. 

Our team has been working on this home for well over two years and will likely not complete the renovations and decorating until this summer. Even when we complete the next phase, there will be changes and additions over time. We have had the chance to use and reuse pieces, find the right art pieces, and add more to the initial design plans. It just keeps getting better and better!

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Calcasieu is another long-term client I’ve worked with for almost seven years. Each phase of the project brings something new, exciting, and creative. The family’s tastes have changed over the course of the work, and we continue to build upon our foundation and reimagine the life of every room. It’s an honor to be part of a family’s life in this way, especially over a long period of time. 

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The Zilker is another example of long-term work. We started with a kitchen and dining room renovation that became a decorating project. Then, we moved outside to create a screened porch and outdoor lounge space. Most recently, the clients decided to redesign their living room, add a piano, remove an island, and renovate three bathrooms and the primary bedroom. The only space untouched at this point is a guest room, which I think might remain in flux for a few more years. 

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Slow Down, Design Better

Our lives, needs, and spaces change through the years. Rather than rushing the design of our homes and outfitting them with clunky, unfunctional trends to keep up with the Joneses, we need to take a break from the fast-paced world, relish in the shifts, and embrace the slow decorating process. 

As interior designers, we’re really service workers. We assess our clients’ lifestyles, needs, and styles to deliver homes that represent them and feel comfortable. All of this takes time and contemplation. With that time comes learning and deeper and more interesting design decisions. The layers of understanding and decoration are what create a comfortable and meaningful space to call home. And the journey and relationships built along the way are just as rewarding and exciting. 


Remember, good things take time. 

Amity Worrel

Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.



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