The City Magazine Since 1975

Shiplap This!

July 2017
Shiplap This!
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One working mom pushes back against forever-changing design trends

It’s not every day one finds design inspiration in the bowels of the Goodwill store. But I did on a recent rainy afternoon, when I paid a visit to America’s yard sale in search of lost treasure begging for a more appreciative home. It was there in the back—near the forlorn “Mike and Barb Forever” champagne flutes and dusty exercise equipment—that I spied scads of fabric valances. Piled like a stack of Jenga pieces, they bespoke a not-so-distant era when their presence in a breakfast nook or master bedroom said, “This window belongs to a person of good taste.”

I remember all too well a time when I aspired to such accoutrements, like the day I found my soul fabric at a pricey design store and excitedly submitted my window measurements to the bespectacled clerk. The estimate that came back, equivalent to Bolivia’s annual GDP, was astonishing. I bore the woman’s withering gaze and headed to Wal-Mart for a couple of good-enough yards of fabric and a few rolls of iron-on tape. (By the way, my DIY window panels worked just fine. In fact, they still do, these many years later.)

That moment at Goodwill made me wonder how it is that others manage to stay atop home décor trends, when they come—and go—so mysteriously, and so quickly. Take, for example, the Pantone annual color. In 2016, it was a groundbreaking blend of some hazy-smoky-blue-thing and rose quartz. Two colors! This hardly seemed fair to those of us who are still rocking bucketsful of “Fuchsia Rose” from 2001. And don’t get me started on the fact that 2017 dawned with a new “color story” that demanded the truly fashionable spray their entire built environment with a Granny Smith apple shade of “Greenery.”

Looking at a color wheel, these are pretty whiplash-inducing evolutions in what’s hot. It’s dizzying to imagine keeping up, so maybe this is what throw pillows are for—a trend hook-up versus a full commitment. Yes, I think that’s it, throw pillows are the Tinder of interior design.

So back to me: I’ve come to a point in life when I no longer must chase around children with perennially smudgy hands. The living beings in my household (dog included) refrain from relieving themselves or vomiting on furniture (most of the time), and I could probably afford a trade-up from Goodwill hunting. After spending a day binge-watching HGTV, I asked myself: which trend would I jump on, if I could just peel myself away from this circa-2006 couch? Would I hang some sliding barn doors between my great room and laundry room? Honestly, that just doesn’t jibe with my vinyl-sided, suburban manse.

How about stripping down my walls to reveal what’s beneath? Surely I’m blessed with acres of shiplap under those “please refresh us” layers of latex! No, I’m pretty sure this construction, laid bare, is just a bunch of studs and drywall. Chip and Joanna Gaines wouldn’t have any fun here.

How about an all-white kitchen? Sure, I could toss out these walnut cupboards with brass hardware (Elle Décor tells me brass is so last year), the ecru counter tops, and the tile floor I laid myself one horrible holiday week. (Note: the fact that it’s on a Pinterest board and has a YouTube video, doesn’t mean you need to do it yourself.)

The funny thing is, now that I’ve matured enough to be able to actually aspire to the bespoke interior (design) life that I long thought I should want, I don’t feel inclined to pursue it. Sure, I appreciate walking into a gorgeous home and seeing the care with which each piece has been crafted and placed. I don’t judge one person’s investment in overstuffed furnishings any more than another’s love of sharp lines. (Although, ahem, both have been deemed “out” by the fascists who deem such things.)

I hope they don’t judge my own aesthetic that has been honed over the decades: buy a sofa for comfort and think hard about how many people can sit on it at once (the more the better), fill your dated kitchen with wine and fresh food in bright colors, hate-stalk Pinterest and yell at the crafty posters who cannot hear you, and pick paint colors that will complement your skin tone (hello, “Fuchsia Rose”!).

And always swipe right on new throw pillows. Just make sure they aren’t chevron-patterned. That’s so 2012!

It’s dizzying to imagine keeping up, so maybe this is what throw pillows are for—a trend hook-up versus a full commitment. They are the Tinder of interior design.

In order to fully enjoy my farm-to-table-to-mouth-to-thighs lifestyle, I need to own my bed-to-desk-to-table-to-bed reality.

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