Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Home Decor: Sing Your Own Song

singing the same old song.

I had great plans of developing a new persona when I moved to Daybreak. I'd start over: instead of being a reclusive writer I'd be a community organizer. I'd enhance my full-bodied look and wear leopard driving gloves with huge glitzy bracelets; my ever-present bandana sweatband would be my signature roaring-twenties headpiece.

The basis for my persona was a new house. My decorating style would make a clean, classic statement ala Pottery Barn. Blue, white and red would be updated to blue, white and yellow--fresh, unadorned cream colored walls would soothe and calm my frenzied friends. A neighbor once told me, "Marty, your house makes me dizzy." My new interiors would put her to sleep like a lullaby.


I've discovered that a month of planning does not trump 62 years of living. And 42 of those years I've been married to a collector who loves color and pattern as much as I do. Geometric straw balls placed strategically on bookshelves are for people who don't have 23 boxes of books! Elegant framed swatches of Marimekko fabric are for folks who don't collect coats from the Tyrol. Sad to say, the new persona died in the move. The old persona is sitting at her computer, wearing a bandana, surrounded by a patchwork of dizzying hues.

Our bookcases fit perfectly in a little nook by the entry.
We showcased the books we've written, plus collections of books that reflect our interests.
The suitcases on top are decorated with travel labels of places we've been.
IKEA magazine files on the bottom shelves hold projects in progress.

Someone once said, "You were born an original. Don't die a copy." Sing your own song! Designer shows I've been watching all summer emphasize decorating for your eventual buyer. They have rules for color choices, art groupings, and furniture placement. According to these experts, too much personal stuff detracts from the neutral wall space, and the universally featureless artwork the home-stagers promote. Ridiculous!

Our new townhouse in Garden Park is just over 1600 square feet.
It has two bedrooms and a loft, which we converted into Dee's office.
Half of the Living Room is living room, and the other half is my office,
with a long dining table for a layout table.
When company comes, I'll clear off the writing gear and pass the potatoes!

This is what my office looks like from the staircase looking down.
I used a collection of pewter pieces on an IKEA lazy susan to hold elastics, paper clips, pencils, etc.
(Handy for writing with grandkids coloring on the other side,
and easy to relocate at the dinner bell.)

Here's how the two spaces work together.
(From the kitchen . . .

. . . from the entry.)

A home should be a reflection of those who live there. Where else can you showcase your personality, interests and accomplishments better than your home? If kids are part of the decor, their fingerprints should be all over (both literally and figuratively.) School pictures in the bedroom (hang them on a clothesline with tiny clothespins) birthday invitations on the fridge (create a section for each kid to display their stuff and let them decide what to take down when something new comes in the mail) and towels hanging low in the bathroom (give everyone their own color and their own hook at a reachable level and they might not land on the floor!)

I love to troll decorating magazines and websites, and pinterest is my newest obsession, but if an idea appears too often I run the other way. Ideas are for inspiration, not to replace creativity. I'm wary of trends. If somebody tells you green appliances will spice up your kitchen, decide if guacamole is the look you love before buying the whole avocado. (I speak from experience.) If a trend sings to you, you'll still love it when it's out of style in five years, but if you choose it because it's all the rage, you'll be singing "It's not easy being green" long before the avocado turns brown.

In one house we had gorgeous oak paneling. Gorgeous, I tell you! Plus a rock fireplace. A decorator came in to help us choose fabrics and she informed us that the room looked dark (ja, und?) "Cover this wood up with burlap. The rock fireplace could be redone with Naugahyde and stud nails." She was so confident, so sure future buyers wouldn't like the old-fashioned cabin charm, that we actually thought about it . . . until we remembered we loved the warm, cozy feel we had, and WE were living there! Let your home reflect you.

Letters to and from our family while we lived a year in England
captured our experiences. Here they are displayed on a staircase wall,
available for reading and remembering.

The ambiance of your home is the most important element: the feel, the gemutlichkeit, the atmosphere. Decide which part of your personality to emphasize (elegant, sophisticated, casual, comfortable, colorful, artistic) and look through your drawers for stuff that tells that story. Pieces that represent your talents, interests, memories or heritage can be displayed in unique ways to prompt conversations or recharge your batteries.

Dee's inspiration board is a collage of former projects,
and projects to come. The pictures tell his stories,
which he happily shares with clients and grandkids.

Creativity is the best part of home-making, from my point of view. I love taking an idea and tweaking it with a few grace notes of my own. I've fallen flat with a few looks, but some are pretty sharp.

What tune is your house singing?
Share a description or a link!


Heather P said...

Welcome back! I sure missed you. I'm so glad to see you're all moved in and that you're comfortable in a space that works for you. Congratulations. :)

Diane said...

My house sings a casual, people are more important than things tune.

When we sold our home in Washington to move here, we made it neutral to sell. It sold quickly, but felt cold and not like our home. It feels good to be surrounded by those people and things you love.

Chiska said...

This makes me smile. I had a friend tell me once that she loved visiting me because everything I have has a story. Right now we're packed too tightly and disorganized for those stories to show through very often, but they're still there.

Grandma Shelley said...

Welcome back! I love this post and your new place.

When we built our retirement home five years ago it was with two things in mind. A place where we could age safely (raised potties, backing for safety bars, 3 foot doors, and wide halls throughout for wheelchair access if needed) and a place where our children and grandchildren would be comfortable when they visited. That meant furniture, flooring, walls, and locks where needed to keep the house kid and family friendly.

We like our treasure too!

Polly said...

I've always thought a home should reflect who lives there. There is nothing in my home that isn't treasured or reminds me of something. A decorator might know colors and balance, but they don't know you. Your home always feels just like you and dee. can't wait to see it in person.

the wrath of khandrea said...

we're military. i hear you. all we have is what's in these four walls. so we embrace the familiarity of it every time we unpack it all in a new location.

i will say, however, that being married to the military, we have a twisted need for structure and organization. clutter? no. memorabilia? carefully selected, since the movers will probably lose it or break it anyway. thank heavens we've reached our final resting place... i hope...

nice to have you back!

mama jo said...

it's darling...i love it!