I once wrote a column comparing my string of home decorating projects to the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” For the mouse, a cookie led to a glass of milk, which led to a napkin, which circled back several pages later to another cookie. For me, putting new drapes in the living room led to a new couch which … well, you get the idea.
Now, several years later, my house needs another cookie. In fact, it needs a cookie, milk, napkin – the whole shebang – all at the same time. Maybe “need” is the wrong word. The truth is, it’s me. I’m tired of my upholstery, tired of the colors, tired of going from room to room sighing, “One of these days…”
Well, that day was last Tuesday. I woke up fighting the urge to haul every stick of furniture out to the curb and be done with it, which would have been emotionally satisfying but not terribly helpful going forward. Besides, the house wasn’t all bad. The tables were still in good condition. I loved the rugs and the paintings. The place just needed a little freshening up. My earthy reds and browns and oranges have served me well, but now I was ready for blues and greens, more sea and sky than soil.
Soil was going to be an issue, though. Life is messy, and I wanted my house to be a place where my grandchildren would be free to play, a place where stray Cheerios blended in effortlessly with the color scheme and the occasional juice box spill wouldn’t spell disaster. The question was how to accomplish this.
I am not a person with decorating vision. I know what I like when I see it, but I don’t know where to begin looking. It was time to call in professional help.
I’ve been particularly skittish about this because, if you’re a get-along person at heart, there’s always the danger that you’ll get caught up in someone else’s vision and end up with something that is not you at all. Still, if the project was to be completed in my lifetime, I needed a skilled someone to help the process along. I shored up my gumption reserves and set up an appointment for a decorator to come by Wednesday.
All that worry was for nothing, because the woman was very nice. When I told her what I was looking for, she didn’t roll her eyes one time. She hung in there as I walked from room to room, repeating words like “sturdy,” “forgiving” and “Scotchguard.” She provided me with books of swatches in beautiful greens and blues and I spent several happy hours choosing just the right combinations. When I met with her the following week to finalize the plans, half of the fabrics had been discontinued (of course they had) but that’s OK. I know where I’m headed and I’ll get there eventually.
When my children were small, I dreamed of having a house that was pure grownup. I wanted breakables. I wanted coffee table books. I wanted a china cabinet whose legs had not been chewed on by a dog. Well, I got all that and I’ve circled back to wanting a place where a mouse could actually sit back and enjoy his cookie and milk in stain-free peace.
I’ve been looking at new swatches, holding them up in the sunlight against the rugs, and as I gazed out the window, I noticed that the azaleas across the back fence are looking a little tired. Ah … another cookie.