I’m not proud of this, mind you, but I am just a teensy bit influenced by mass media. This is an occupational downside that comes with being a writer who reads obsessively and thinks too much.
Case in point: cover blurbs on magazines tend to annoy me. Just yesterday my favorite home and garden magazine arrived in the mail, testily ordering me to GET THE LOOK.
Which prompted me to challenge, in only a slightly angry way, what exactly is THE LOOK? Is it something impossible for me to grasp, but obvious to everyone else in the room…kind of like the way Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once famously defined pornography: “I know it when I see it”?
More than 92% of homeowners report that the images they are bombarded with of high-end homes in the media make them feel their home is inadequate by comparison, according to a statistic I just made up.
First it was the super-models who established the standards we “normal” women will never meet: 5’9 and 110 pounds, with nary an age spot, stretch mark, or blemish on those airbrushed, lithesome limbs. Now it’s the million-dollar homes we see everywhere that are setting the bar just a tad too high.
Where are the scratch marks from Hot Wheels on these homeowners’ hand-scraped walnut floors? Has no child ever left a chocolate stain on their supple Italian leather sofa…as mine did just last week? (Ok, you sticklers for editorial accuracy, it might have been my Ghiradelli bar).
As a faithful estate-sale shopper, I want my home to be both beautiful and comfortable. Casual elegance is the goal. But the reality of life–kids, dogs, friends–all too often collides with my pursuit of the “perfect home.” My rebel response: let’s define what the “perfect” home really is. It’s the one filled with the things that you love and that matter deeply to you.
And yes, that just might include “tacky” photographs on the fridge of the people you love.
Build your home around the things you identify with, historically, symbolically, or literally, and I promise you: you will discover THE LOOK. For example, hope and humor glimmer throughout my friend Lindy’s French Powder Room, the one she painted and decorated after a devastating divorce. Its French accessories, purple silk shower curtain, and black-and white-photos remind her of a trip she took toParisto heal her soul. “I even painted a reproduction of Toulouse-Lautrec’s Can Can scene and hung it across from the toilet,” she says. “So whenever someone’s on the can, they can view the ‘Can Can!’”
Instead of striving for someone else’s idea of perfection, let’s all just relax already. Let your instincts guide your decorating inspirations, and feather your nest with the things that make your heart sing, not the latest trend from a designer who doesn’t know you or what you value.
“The perfect home does not have to look like a spread from Architectural Digest,” says my wise friend Diane. “I feel my home is “perfect” when someone walks in and makes that contented “o-o-h” sound, which tells me they find my home peaceful, comfortable and welcoming.”
A perfect response, indeed.