So what do I do when I'm not writing, blogging, or reading anything that requires more than a modicum of attention?
While unwatched Charlie Rose episodes pile up on the DVR, I watch decorating and design programs on HGTV, and peruse shelter magazines passed on by a neighbor. Occasionally I get up and do a bit of closet, cupboard, and cabinet organizing in my own house. I wander through the various Apartment Therapy blogs and Flickr decor photo pools. Flickr is best, because it's mostly real houses lived in by real people -- but the fantasies are entertaining, if sometimes a bit mind-boggling.
These are usually 'neutral' -- some variety of white or beige -- but tones of any color will do. Anything that doesn't blend, clashes. So no falling in love with a mismatched painting, or chair -- no point -- you can't bring it home unless you redecorate.
Once, in a veterinarian's office, I got acquainted with the 'office cat', and the vet told me that he had that cat because a client brought it in to be put down. She'd redecorated, and the cat no longer matched the furniture. Honestly.
So what does one do if a guest arrives in a clashing outfit? Perhaps other people aren't allowed in the room?
Or, what if the book you're reading doesn't match? Oh -- maybe you wrap all your books in monochromatic covers...
Speaking of which:
Arranging books by color, and/or buying them in bulk as 'decorative objects'
Perhaps there are some extremely visual folks who identify/remember their books by color -- but I'm pretty visual, and I tend to think of my books by subject, or author, or category (poetry, fiction, nonfiction.) Since I try to keep only books I expect to pull from the shelf again -- poetry; books by friends; very favorite and/or yet unread novels -- I need to be able to find them. I just can't remember the last time I thought "I believe I'm in the mood for a red book today."
As for books as decorative objects -- well, it depends. I have friends who collect beautiful limited editions of books by their favorite poets. They offered to lend me some once, but I had the good sense to decline. I appreciate those books -- they are beautiful to the eye, mind, and hand -- but I read mine in the bathtub, and the garden. They get lost when they fall off of piles by the bed; they get kicked on the stairway. They accumulate in corners like dust bunnies, and they accumulate dust bunnies. They are not, eventually, the least bit decorative.
If I had the money -- and the space -- to use books as decorative objects, I'd do it by going to some favorite bookstore and buying up lots of books on my 'to read' list -- and lots of children's books -- and make my own personal browsing library. A rainbow of colors library, all mixed up visually, but organized by author and content.
That's what I'd do.
The aversion to ceiling fans
What is this about?
Show after show, the designer comes in and immediately -- often over the objections of the homeowner -- removes the ceiling fan. I saw a show (maybe a Trading Spaces episode?) in which they were redecorating a bedroom in Florida. The crew was sweat-soaked and gasping for breath the entire time. The homeowners said they could do what they liked, except Don't take out the ceiling fan! It was, of course, the first thing to go.
Is this lesson one in designer school? What, exactly, is the problem? Granted, there are some ugly ceiling fans, but there are beautiful ones, too -- and surely some unobjectionable ones. And they are useful; sometimes (as in a Florida bedroom) necessary. They are much preferable to air conditioning, in my opinion. But then, I like the simple ones with the schoolhouse light -- that's how trendy I am.
And yes, I have four. Livingroom, kitchen, bedroom, study.
'Family Rooms' with glass-topped coffee tables and white furniture
Give - me - a - break. Literally.
OK, so this can be done well.
But it's so easy to do badly.
And even done well, I have the same problem with this as I do with monochromatic rooms -- you can't bring in anything that doesn't 'fit'.
[You've probably figured out by now that I'm an eclectic accumulator...]
I don't mean gas fireplaces -- those are 'real', or at least have real flames and heat -- and I don't mean real, but unusable for some reason, fireplaces -- which can be filled up and lit with candles -- I mean: This room needs a focal point, let's nail a fireplace mantle to the wall.
There is a better solution. Really.
Choosing art to match the furniture
Well, I kind of get this. It's better than not choosing art at all.
But wouldn't you rather choose furniture that matches the art you love? Or -- even better -- choosing art and furniture you love, and discovering that -- surprise! -- they go together just fine. Which they probably will, if you love them both.
Hotel bedrooms & spa baths
Oh! she squeals, It's just like a boutique hotel room!
We want, he announces, a bathroom like a European spa.
The bedroom. The bath.
One would think -- I think -- these are the most personal rooms in the house. Especially the bedroom. And -- news flash -- hotels and spas are designed to be as universal -- that is, as impersonal -- as possible. Comfortable and luxurious, yes; but personal -- no.
Here in the wealthy United States, the bedroom is usually a private space, which need be shared only by choice; and often, there's a 'master' bath with the same status. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this luxury, and use it to express your own unique tastes and interests as an individual, or couple, or triad, or whatever...
Should your private space really look like one that anyone with the necessary cash could rent, by the night?
Home decorating trends
If you're in your twenties, during which, as I vaguely recall, fashion and style have great importance, then being 'trendy' may have some value.
But, you know all those rooms that are described as 'outdated' and stale and in need of remodeling and redecorating?
Outdated = trendy, once, long ago. So last year. Stuck in the 70's, the 80's, the what-evers. Of course, the 50's and 60's -- once considered in such bad taste -- are trendy again now.
How do houses and rooms -- and people -- become outdated? By responding too entirely to current taste, without attention to the interests and needs of the resident personalities; without responding to and reflecting individual, unique lives and perspectives.
A room that changes with the life of its residents = timeless.