Saturday, September 22, 2012

Who (or what) needs therapy?

I've been thumbing through decorating sites; Apartment Therapy (AT), House Beautiful, Style at Home, and Better Homes and Gardens.

There is no way of getting around it. Windowless living rooms like mine are not in vogue, nor are flowered sofas, dark bookcases, or those plastic pails the cat litter comes in when used as garbage cans. The matts on my artwork don't match, and the tops of the paintings don't line up. Cords dangle, intertwine and snake across the floor. Thank goodness, they are camouflaged somewhat by the cat hair that coils around them between vacuuming.

To qualify as "chic" at Apartment Therapy I'd need to reclaim the cast-offs we collected off curbs as impoverished newlyweds almost 50 years ago. The commenters at AT practically wet themselves with glee over furniture I would happily have let complete its trip to the dump 50 years if only I could have afforded what was in style at the time.

What I was hoping for on all these sites was some reassurance that with a minimum of tweaking I could at least go for "cottage" or an off-beat version of "shabby chic", but I think my decor and I are both beyond hope. It might be possible for the "chic" to endure the shape of the sofa if it were covered in chartreuse vinyl or recycled snow tires, but the extravagantly flowered silk fabric is unforgivable. Nothing good can be said at all for the (sob) matched chenille burgundy arm chairs. They are skirted, deeply comfortable and they rock. (What was I thinking?)

Our enormous 40-year-old coffee table has no glass, no metal and is not recycled from a bed frame or the gears from a box loader. It doesn't turn into a table for nine or a queen-sized guest bed. It simply squats on short feet and pretends to be a stack of books from Amazon for I have failed completely and utterly as a furniture-buying humanoid.

Dare I mention art? The pictures on our wall contain recognizable objects and/or humans/landscapes, which reveal our tastes (and those of our ancestors) as artistic goobers.

The new pinnacle of artistic creativity is an 8 x 10 foot paint chip someone drug a dirty burlap bag across. It's vital this gigantic "paint chip" not include any of the colours in the room. Looking at the choices, "Burlap dance 1 (blue)", "Burlap dance 2 (green)", "Burlap dance 3 (pink)" etc., one gets the feeling the artist just bought the miss-mixes at the Walmart for $3.00 per gallon to use as his/her base coat. In case you find my dots hard to connect, that damned flowered sofa encompasses every possible shade of muted blue, green, pink, rose and burgundy, plus ivory, a dozen browns and sly dashes of black. I can't find a single non-matching paint-chip/burlap-bag painting. This seems to indicate that no one plans to paint the nursery nuclear lime, at least not in our end of town.

But my decorating angst doesn't end in the living room. It gallops into the the kitchen/dining room with more than a little schadenfreude. Search as I might I don't see a single kitchen/dining room in these publications with the "accent" of a six-foot high "cat tree" backed up against the windows.

I do see kitchens large enough to host bowling tournaments and regimental reunions, large enough not to require top cupboards, with kitchen islands large enough to host overnight sleepovers. There's one with a wall of floor to ceiling windows covered with shutters ripped from a New England farmhouse built in 1760, still with original paint no less. I didn't see a single one with fake wood cabinets shoehorned into a 4' x 6' corner.

I've just been looking at pictures of a kitchen where all the crockery, dishes and glassware are stored on rough wood shelves on either side of a 14 foot tall mirror-finish range hood "chimney". How one is supposed to reach a water glass stored on a shelf 12 feet above the floor? Climbing up and down a 10-rung ladder to get a glass every time you need a drink of water seems a bit absurd, especially if you have a big pot of spaghetti boiling on the stove below. But hot damn it looks fabulous.

Fashion, in clothes, decor, houses, hairstyles and hipsters comes and goes like the tide. In 50 years time some chic young thing will be dreaming of finding my sofa but right now the only thing I have which would excite the AT crowd is this guy. They are suckers for cats at AT, which probably means they are an okay crowd, even if they like ugly 1950s furniture.

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