Well, you all probably knew this, but I didn’t. I’ve just never done it before.
I think I’d be happy living in a cave – as long as that cave was lined with bookshelves.
The key is useless things
Apparently decorating is made up of useless things that serve no purpose and they have to be assembled in some kind of manner that’s aesthetically pleasing. This is really hard to wrap your head around if you don’t notice your surroundings.
So I asked my friend Mel (a psychologist that knows about decorating – because I clearly need both kinds of help) – who from 3000 miles away is trying to help me decorate.
She thinks it’s important to decorate your house for yourself so YOU feel happy in it. I think it’s important to sell my house for the max money I can get. To do that, I have to do this decorating thing. Because people like decorated houses.
But they can’t be too decorated, like with pictures of your family. Or books that you actually read. Nono. It has to be these useless things. Unless you’re Lindy and can pull off pretty and useful.
So I email Mel with pictures – like this first decorating fail:
Me: This doesn’t look right to me. I’m going to replace this sideboard thing with a dark wood kind. But it seems like I should have something else. Something taller? Maybe put something in that urn thing? Like something seasonal I can change out for Xmas / summer? Or put a poinsettia for now and something else with some color after Xmas?
Mel: Okay, I like the furniture and painting together but your pieces are too dark and small IMO. You need something, floral maybe in seafoam and off-white that is larger in scale. Or, you keep your pieces and change the sideboard and painting. You can make those three pieces more substantial by clustering them and arranging them at different heights, like on a stack of small, old books or something. What do you think?
(EEK! She asked me what *I* think?!? That’s the problem – I don’t! Think of this stuff that is. I’m also not sure what color seafoam is – or if it even is a color. Is this decorating-speak for light green? Or does she think I should have flowers that are made out of foam that came from the sea?)
Me: Heighten with books?!? I didn’t think of that! Oh yes, I have books up the ying yang.
I agree on the size. I got this Ethan Allen decorating book from our book swap place and I can see that there’s a very clear style that I like (warm tones – no blue, grey or green, darker colours – OR pure black and white – but I won’t go there). What it looks like they do in some of the pictures is to have a picture on the wall and then they put a smaller picture so it kind of leans up against the bigger one and partly covers it, but only a bit. In this one pic, they have a basket (which I have a few of) – and they put a few books in it and sort of layer something else in the front of the whole thing.
It seems kind of complicated and I guess you just don’t move or use anything? Like – they’re not actually reading the books right? So it’s not like it’s a basket with my library books in it? I don’t know if I can keep that up.
There was another picture that I really liked in the book where they’re decorating with books that are sort of stacked and intermixed with other things. Layering things seems to be quite popular, that just never occurred to me. I think I will move those useless things in the picture to my bookshelves in the office. Then I’ll start playing around with various sizes of things. I’ve got taller things that are lighter. And if I don’t, I can start looking for some. I have a nice wine rack. Maybe I’ll try that out.
Mel: You’re so funny. No, you don’t typically use your decorative items but if you do, that’s even better. You’re in the right track figuring out what you like and trying different arrangements.
Me: Well, it seems pointless to me to have things hanging around that you never use. Then you just have to dust them. It’s sort of a make work project.
But I have to learn how to do this stuff or else hire someone to do it for me which seems silly to do if I can figure it out myself. I think people who are buying houses want to see something pulled together properly. It’s like window dressing in a store – it seems stupid and unnecessary, but people buy based on emotion, not logic. I do it too!
Plus I can buy things at the auction and save a lot of money. If I focus on it now, I have lots of time to be able to pick up stuff off-retail. They had some things there that I could have bought at this last auction, but I didn’t know what I should have. AND – if I get it figured out for once and for all, it’s done and I don’t have to think about it anymore. To be honest, it hurts my brain and confuses me. But I think there’s a pattern there that I’m starting to comprehend.
I get by with a little (lot of) help from my friends
Hey! I got these mirrors for free. Guess how I managed that? My friend that went with me to the auction asked for them.
Oh, I’m replacing that door too. And the mirrors need to be dusted.
But I think they might be useful for me to check how I look before I leave the house – when / if I go back to work – and maybe pay someone to do this maddening decorating project for me.