I’m a big fan of HGTV, DIY…really any “home improvement” type of show. I love to watch “This Old House” or “Fixer Upper”. In my younger days I could swing a hammer and fix a few things. I’ve hung sheet rock and painted many, many rooms. I also like to decorate a bit and I understand that the right mix of colors and objects creates a mood and setting for a pleasing daily life. Few of us function well in chaos. And most people prefer a certain range of colors. We all have objects that make us smile or remind us of other people and times. There are new trends in decorating and design that tempt us to make changes. However, there is sometimes a fine line between decorating a house and creating a home. I was reminded of that yesterday as I looked around at my new office.
I’m still working on several aspects of this new space. I still have boxes that I haven’t unpacked. I haven’t hung curtains or finished decorating with some of my elephant collection. But I can already tell you that my new office is going to be every bit as messy as my old one, despite the fact that I’ve eliminated some furniture and thrown out some papers and donated some books to Goodwill. That’s just the nature of my daily life. Between photography, writing, genealogy, and personal business, I have STUFF. Some of that stuff can be stored in the closet or on a book shelf, but some of it is going to be on the table next to me or on the floor or in a pile in the corner, depending on my current project. I work here. I live here. This isn’t a display.
There was an office in one of the home remodels that I saw this week. It had a sleek modern desk with a laptop and a vase of flowers. Along one wall was a pretty storage unit. I found myself thinking, “I want to see that room in six months! If anyone really works there it’s going to be a mess.”
It isn’t an accident that the furnishing of homes for sale is called “staging”. The idea is to “set the stage” for buyers so they can imagine living in the house. If you are trying to sell an existing home you’ll no doubt be advised to get rid of as much clutter as possible, to improve the traffic flow and ambiance of your environment. New homes are furnished and decorated to give the impression of family life, but are usually lacking in reality. As an example, a small living room might be furnished with a large love seat rather than a sofa. One house that I saw had a glass patio table in the kitchen because a standard table would have overwhelmed the room. These are just little tricks that fool the eye and make people forget their actual needs.
As I waited for Gary at the eye clinic yesterday I overheard an interesting conversation between a middle-aged woman and her elderly mother. The woman was bemoaning the fact that her new family room just wasn’t working for her and the arrangement of the furniture had her baffled. She wanted her mother to visit and give her some advice. I’m not sure why her mother hadn’t seen her house yet, but I wanted to go with them and hear what mom had to say! Clearly the woman wasn’t satisfied with just having her furniture in the room; she needed it to be compatible with her needs.
Social media is filled with home decorating projects and ideas, as well as sites where you can design your “dream home”. Gary and I are both puzzled by that term since neither of us “dreams” of houses or rooms or furniture. After hearing it repeatedly on television he commented to me that he tried to dream of the perfect garage, but he dreamed instead of a warm beach. lol While I understand the concept of enjoying a beautiful home, I don’t want where I live to ever dominate how I live.
I’ve rambled on to make a point, one that I need to remind myself of as I’m settling into my new environment. I’ve worked in theater. I’ve taken a dozen art classes. I have some home improvement experience. I’m a bit OCD. I could drive myself and my husband insane and easily go bankrupt trying to create the perfect stage for our life. Or I can combine our old stuff with a few new things and create a comfortable, peaceful place where we can actually live.