Life in the Frat House:
The Inspiration behind Trim Design Co.
A Gen-Xer’s POV: Frat House Living 2.0
I’ve got a few questions for you:
Are you between the ages of say...35-50?
Maybe a pet?
If you answered yes to any of the above, I’ve got news for you: You live in a frat house.
Think I’m out of my mind? Look around your house. Look very, very closely. Because if you’re like me, you might be doing everything you can to cover up the symptoms of frat life 2.0. But really open up your eyes and look. I guarantee it’s there…lurking.
Symptom 1: The Kitchen
Now, the symptoms will vary depending on what stage you’re in, but I’m certain you’re suffering from at least one. Let’s start in the kitchen. I know, you probably don’t have beer bottles stacked on your counters (don’t worry, I won’t point out the..ahem…wine bottles that may or may not fill your recycling…), but chances are, you do have a slew of water bottles, sippy cups, baby bottles, binkies, and all the accompanying tops, inserts, straws, and everything else filling the drying rack and any flat surface area available. (My sister in law calls it “Flat Surface Syndrome”: the gravitational pull of clutter to any flat surface in the home). And don’t get me started on that case of juice boxes you’ve got stashed somewhere for all that spontaneous entertaining you do (aka last minute playdates).
And while you may pride yourself in cooking a home-cooked meal every night, and you shudder at the thought of a bunch of pizza boxes or take-out containers in sight, how about that never-ending cycle of kids’ lunchboxes waiting on the counter to be emptied, cleaned out, and re-packed each day? Not so very different, right?
And how’s your kitchen floor looking these days? O.k., maybe you have a dog who scarfs down every last crumb so that the floor appears clean (minus those dog slobber streaks), but if you don’t have a pet then:
Your broom is either attached to your hip (my broom is like a fifth appendage) or
You’re waging a constant battle against the Cheerios, Special K, noodles, Goldfish, syrup and Spaghettio sauce that’s threatening to overtake your domain.
Any of this starting to sound familiar?
Symptom 2: The Bathroom
Just for fun, let’s move into the bathroom. Is the toilet seat raised in its permanent upright position? Or maybe no one even bothers to lift the seat so you never know what you’re going to find when you go in there? Does flushing seem optional in your household? How often do you go in to use the bathroom only to find an empty toilet paper roll in place? Should I point out the toothpaste gobs in the sink? Wet towels piled on the floor? (I purposefully omitted a photo of my bathroom revealing the above-listed symptoms to save you the revulsion)
Symptom 3: Toys and Sports Equipment without a Home
And now for the paralysis of paraphernalia. Again, this really depends on the ages you’re dealing with right now, but let’s see if you’re suffering from any of these chronic issues: Legos, Magnatiles, Calico Critters, Polly Pockets, American Girl Doll clothes, Pokémon cards, a Thomas the Train table, slime, Shopkins, cleats, stinky football or hockey pads, lacrosse and field hockey sticks, swim gear….need I go on?
And so, what’s the result? You’ve put off replacing that dingy IKEA sofa you bought for your apartment at the height of the first dot com boom, and you still have that area rug from Pottery Barn you got when you first wanted to try “adulting.” Your coffee table? You’re not really even sure where that came from.
Now let me ask you, are things really all that far off from that old college apartment you lived in all those years ago?
Your response: “What’s the point?” “Why bother? We’re outnumbered anyway.” “Let’s just wait until this phase passes.”
And how does that make you feel? You’re working harder than ever these days, you’re busier than ever, you finally own a real house that you put so much effort (and money) into buying. Don’t you deserve to come home to an environment that both calms and re-energizes you? Not one that adds (more?) frustration, overwhelm, and stress to your day?
The Solution: Take Back Your Home!
This is how I’d felt. I’d had enough. I didn’t want to hand over the keys to the house to my kids. I wanted to be the one steering the ship and I wanted the ship to look like it belonged to me (o.k., and to my husband, and to some extent my kids, but you know what I mean!). There are ways to live with kids and still have a beautiful home that looks and feels like you at your best. And it was this feeling, this craving to take back my home, that inspired my POV for starting Trim Design Co.
A Millennial’s POV:
Congrats, Elder Millennial! You’ve made it. You finally figured out this adulting thing, and you’re killing it at work! You’re well traveled and you’ve got your finger on the pulse when it comes to pop culture. BUT...your dorm-room furniture tells another story. I hate to break it to you, but you’ve got a bad case of Frat House Syndrome.
Not sure I’m talking about you? Allow me to demonstrate. You are, in fact, suffering from Frat House Syndrome if:
You’re in the 25-35 age range
You own your first place
You exhibit two or more of the symptoms listed below
Symptoms of Frat House Syndrome:
Perhaps you still own a version of this ubiquitous Ikea chair:
Or (shudder) an overstuffed recliner that’s definitely had beer and god knows what else spilled on it over the years.
In fact, a larger percentage of your furniture than you’d like to admit, came from Ikea.
Your “decor” still includes little white Christmas lights (even if they’re on the balcony or deck, it still counts). Sorry, but this is tough love time.
Your wall “art” is in those plastic ready-made frames from Michael’s, or even worse, you just have some unframed canvas prints thrown up on the walls.
Maybe you own one of these atrocities:
If you still own anything from the Room Essentials brand, or your storage system mostly consists of plastic tubs, don’t panic, but you’re definitely living in a frat house.
Take a look at your bathroom. Do you see moldy grout between the tiles or permanent soap scum stains in the shower? Maybe it’s not as bad as back in your student days when you literally didn’t dare enter without shoes on, but I’m guessing it’s not exactly insta-ready either.
What about your ceiling lights? Do any of these “boob lights” look painfully familiar?
I’m guessing the rug from your first tiny apartment looks way too small in your current living room.
And your kitchen counter is cluttered with cereal boxes and loaves of bread that you keep meaning to conceal in attractive storage vessels...
And when you treat yo’ self to some fresh flowers during your Sunday night Trader Joe’s run, you’re forced to stick them in a margarita pitcher or the cheap vase that came with the 1-800-flowers some relative sent you several years ago.
How about the walls and windows? When was the last time you painted? And do your window treatments (if you have them at all) include plastic blinds, tension rods, or vinyl roller shades?
Wouldn’t you love to put the “Dorm Chic” look behind you for good? You deserve an upgrade.
If any of these symptoms apply to you, it’s time to face reality and seek treatment. You’ve become a successful ass-kicking adult, but your home is stuck in the college phase. I know this is frustrating. It’s no fun feeling bad about your place every time you scroll through Pinterest or Instagram. Heck- your job title sure sounds like you’re a professional Professional, and you always assumed that this life stage would include a seriously instagrammable abode. In school, when you imagined your thirties, you pictured yourself throwing intimate cocktail parties in a grownup apartment like the ones from Sex and The City, New Girl, or Friends. And sure, space-wise those were super unrealistic, but you were still expecting to have better furniture and decor by now. What gives??
Well for starters, with all the time you’ve been putting into your career and social life, you don’t have time to search for the perfect pieces that are special, create a cohesive look, and fit your space and budget. When you do get free time, you’d rather travel, go to brunch, or take a yoga class than spend it at the design center browsing through light fixtures.
Your time is valuable and you need someone who can deliver a personalized, completed design that checks all the boxes on your list and meets your budget goals.
And sure, you’re making good money now, but you still have a mortgage and school loans to consider, so you want to make sure your investing your hard-earned dough into quality pieces and you’re certainly no interior design expert. You could go the traditional full-service designer route, but that feels stuffy, intimidating, and shrouded in mystery. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ve heard about some big e-design tech companies that offer fast and cheap design services, but you want more than a cookie-cutter space decked out from a trendy chain-store.
You’re looking for someone who can translate your personality into the perfect design for your space- one that’s “So YOU.” You want it to look a certain way, but you also want it to feel a certain way. And you want it to feel collected and curated, with a mix of vintage and modern, peppered with little details that represent your favorite memories and experiences.
I know how you’re feeling, because I went through it too. And after playing design-doctor to cure my own Frat House Syndrome and that of several friends, I realized that there was a real need for this kind of design service. Something in between the fast-food experience of the giant edesign companies and the fine-dining, prix-fixe experience of traditional firms. That’s why, when Jen and I found ourselves bonding over this shared experience (see her POV above) we realized we were really onto something. We recognized a pain point that cut through both our generations and we were uniquely positioned to address it. And that’s the origin story behind Trim Design Co. So if you’re ready to be cured, we’re here for you!
*All photos except source-attributed product images are our own.