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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Exactly

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Originally published November 16, 2007

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

It was not exactly what I wanted to hear.

As my sister surveyed the finished results of my efforts to decorate my living room, she said, “Well, it looks like a designer could have done it, but not exactly.”

Her honesty is an example of why everybody needs a sister like mine. She gives it to me straight without embellishment. That’s important when talking about embellishment, like the sort that accompanies decorating a house.

Following her example, I can honestly say that I dislike the job of decorating my house. Nevertheless, I would never seek help on the job, such as the kind that comes from an interior designer, a color consultant, or even a sister. With strong opinions of my own, I can imagine nothing but conflict if someone else’s opinions were involved. It’s hard enough to handle all the so-called “layers” of decorating. I do not need an extra layer of conflict.

As it is, I have conflict of my own over decorating decisions. Even with strong opinions, I have doubts. Should the paint be eggshell or semi-gloss? Does the print fabric go with the plaid? Should I choose the eighty or eighty-four-inch sofa?

That’s the thing with decorating. It’s much harder than you think. I never quite understand why the lamp that looked just right in the store looks just wrong in my room. Why the taupe rug at the showroom looks tan at home. Or, why the Roman shade in the picture looks more like an Austrian shade on my window.

Decorating is not only tricky, but it takes much more time than you think. There are trips to stores to study paint color, fabric and furniture. Then, there are more trips to more stores to study more paint, more fabric, and more furniture. It’s more than a little much.

Stores provide paint chips, fabric swatches and furniture specs so you can also study at home. Should it be “Yellowstone” paint for the walls, “Laguna Yellow” fabric for the curtains, and the eighty-inch “Tribeca” sofa? Or, should it be “Fresh Butter” paint, “Goldfield” curtains, and the eighty-six-inch “Whitney”? Or, maybe “Golden Bounty” paint, “Sunburst” curtains, and the eighty-four-inch “Metropolitan”? You can find yourself with a lot of homework.

Even when you do your homework, you still come up with wrong answers. The finished results are not exactly what you hoped. It turns out “Golden Bounty” paint does not look so great with “Sunburst” curtains, and the eighty-four-inch “Metropolitan” sofa is a touch too big. (Maybe the correct answer was really “Golden Bounty” paint, “Goldfield” curtains and “Tribeca” sofa.)

Over the years, though, I have learned something about decorating. Whatever your mistakes, or less than desired results, they fade with time. More accurately, they fade into the background of all the living that goes on around them.

Looking at my walls now, it’s not the color I see, but my children’s artwork hanging there. Seeing the curtains reminds me of the times we close them, as my husband and I curl up in front of the fire. Glancing at the sofa, I know just the way it feels to sit down there with family and friends. Exactly the way I want it.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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