Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Decorating 101

Now that we are all settled into our new house, physically, it seems appropriate that we now take a turn at making it look like a home, rather than a house. Sure, all of the plates have found their final resting place in the cupboards (for this week), and the sheets have nested quite well into their linen closet, but at some point, you do have to look around and address the complete lack of decoration. I guess.

We worked with a wonderful builder to create our home this past year, who, very sadly, passed away at a young age last week. It was a tough week, losing someone to whom we respected and had grown quite close. However, I think it gave me the final kick in the pants that I need to give this house the attention that it deserves. Tom built a beautiful home for us, now we need to make it look the best it possibly can.

This was a home we all built with vision. Tomorrow I will post some 'before' pictures, but this house was in tough shape. Built in 1947 it was largely neglected for the past 10 years of its life. Windows were rotting, toilets did not work, the kitchen was essentially nonexistent, and the home needed some desperate help.  We renovated the home, doubled it in size and restored its original character.(I use the term character lightly as I do recognize this was a post war home and therefore character is a relative term) The home was built in 1947, and I thought in some ways it should pay homage to 1947. Minus the shag carpeting and mint green appliances.

Well maybe more like pay homage by bringing in the good elements (clean lines, simple style) and upgrading it with all the beauties of 2011 (glass bead wallpaper, Brazilian walnut flooring and mudrooms). We retained and accentuated the crisp lines of facade of the house, and maintained the flow of the home, while improving it...SIGNIFICANTLY.

And now, on to the decorating. As I mentioned, this home was built with a phenomenal amount of vision, spirit and energy, and it feels like a disservice to stick a picture of a field with flowers on the wall. (Again, if you think this sounds cheesy...wait until I post the before pictures tomorrow. You will understand what I mean about vision).  However, that has left me a bit paralyzed in the world of decorating. We do not have an enormous budget, as it turns out, it's somewhat expensive to renovate a house :-). But, that does not mean we cannot make a big impact.

We have been searching high and low for artwork for our home. I tried the snobby approach, "Well I don't want to just buy any old artwork, I want to collect things in our travels". Well that works well if you enjoy stark walls for years and years until you get to those places, but in the real world, we can't jet off to Zimbabwe and Italy to search the street markets for artwork. I mean, maybe you can. I guess I shouldn't' judge. But if you do go there...bring me something cool to hang on my wall! Because I'll be at home, searching TJ Maxx/Home Goods for artwork!

And so we search. And find pictures of flowers in a field. Or abstract lines on a canvas, which looks somewhat pixeley, like they have actually photocopied a piece of art and stretched it on a canvas. That is not going to work.

And so, after several hours, and tens of stores, I finally drag a giant metal picture of a cow over to Jeremy. A breakdown ensues and I cry out something in regards to hating all of the flowers in a field and the only thing I like is the metal cow.

Jeremy looks at me, and starts to laugh. He stops for just long enough to say, "Okay, you know what, why not just find art that make us laugh? If random flowers in a field seem impersonal, why not just go with what will make us smile each day? What is the point of art if you buy it just because it looks good on the wall?"
Shocked, I look back at him, "Really? You really think we should put this giant metal cow on our wall instead of those flowers in a field that everyone else seems to like so much?"
"Yes, yes I do" he responds. "But is there another one, because just one will be too small"
"Well, kindof, there's a similar one that has a giant hot dog on it" I reply, meekly.
"Perfect - the cow and the Frank!" he responds.
And this is why I married him. Because he appreciates that sometimes, you just have to put a gigantic metal cow, and a gigantic metal hot dog on your wall. Because in the end, you are respecting a home by decorating it with things you love, and things that make you smile. In a tasteful, 1947 homage, respectful of Tom, happy and delightful way.

So here's my point after all of that rambling, if you have things hanging on your wall that neither make you smile, nor make you happy, take them down. This is your home, it should reflect who you are. And if you are not flowers in a field, why would you stick them on your wall?

1 comment:

Natalie Lembeck said...

Kara, have you checked out 20x200.com? It's a great site for affordable art that's not the same old stuff you find everywhere. Also, I am a daily devotee of Onekingslane.com - a lot of times they have great artwork and other home decor for really reasonable prices. Good luck and let me know what you find! xxoo Natalie