How to be dull
There's an ad currently on TV (for some company/store that I can't even recall) that proclaims "now your home can look like a picture in a magazine."
To which I reply, "why would I want that?"
Seriously, why is that a good thing? Personally, that sounds really sucky and incredibly dull. Why would I want my house to look like a picture in a magazine? I don't want to live with matchy-matchy pillows and color-coordinated accessories. I don't want to decorate from a "collection." (The Martha Stewart Collection, the Has-Been-Reality-Star Collection.) How sad to be so unimaginative that you need someone else to say "this goes with this, which goes with that." What's wrong with the I Live Here Collection?
The problem with Martha & Co is that unless you vote the party line you'll never be certain. Do you dare to mix this rug from the Martha Meets K-Mart Line with the table you bought from the Florence Henderson collection? Wouldn't that require independent thought? And if you're capable of that then can't you just screw the "Collections" and build your own? A rug in a color that reminds you of your first dorm room for a bit of fun factor, a cool table you found at an antique store for $100 that you stripped and refinished yourself. Some blue glass bottles (just because you like the colors) on a mantlepiece next to photos of the people you love. A random white feather picked up while hiking in the woods. That's interesting. That's what a room should be like. It shouldn't be someone you've never meet and who knows nothing about you trying to convince you that beauty can be found when you buy your rooms like Garanimals. Yes, just pair this lamp with the hippo sticker with any of our tables with the hippo sticker and you can't go wrong!
I like mismatched. I like different. I like interesting. I want to live in a house where people feel comfortable taking their shoes off; where they don't have to freak out if they accidentally spill something. OK, so our house will never make the cover of House Beautiful, but I like being the only ones with our particular and creative blend of, well, stuff. A replica Maltese Falcon. An antique radio. An African basket and a Native American pot. No, it's not beautiful (well, it is to me), but it's definitely not dull. And it's a visual representation of who and what we area. We're not trying to recreate a Nantucket beach house, a chic Parisian flat, a Manhattan loft, or Lindsay Lohan's Malibu Barbi Rehab Beach Party.
We're not trying to do anything, except live cozily surrounded by things we love. And Excrutiatingly Perfect Homes Monthly would have a nasty reaction to the old wicker wheelchair we picked up at a garage sale and the beautiful leather-topped table which came from beloved ancestors. A piece of sheet music autographed by Fred Astaire (yes, really) hangs on one wall while the others have North Western animal totems from our trip to Canada. Wanderings through an adored and now, sadly, defunct antique store yielded the ancient Dagurretypes and stashes of old photographs of people we never met, inclduing the huge wedding photo that hangs over our TV. These fictional arbiters of taste would also reject the hideously ugly candlestick from Mexico abut would then want the rights to reproduce the wonderfully beautiful carved hand from Malawi.
I never feel comfortable in rooms where everything is perfect. It doesn't look anything like life. I like piles of books and quirky items. It's a mark of personality and individuality. But rooms that look like, well, a picture in a magazine, they just seem soulless and boring. Like a waiting room in a hospital, not like someone actually lives there.
One of the great thing about my friends is they all have homes that reflect who they are. Some are classy, some are colorful. Others are full of toys or photographs of their travels. Of cats or of collections of spoons. But you walk in and you think "oh yeah, X lives here." You never think "gosh, this looks like a furniture showroom." If that's what I thought, honestly they probably wouldn't be interesting enough to be friends of mine. Because they wouldn't be interesting.