I am a terrible decorator. I just can't make up my mind. Does our family have a style? Are we classic? Modern? Modern-classic? It doesn't help that interior design accessories are extremely expensive. In addition to being a terrible decorator, I am also terribly cheap.
A friend of mine, who is a wonderful decorator, told me that the secret of decorating is to purchase art and accessories, bring them home from the store and "live with them" for a while. She said to conceal the tags or REMOVE them (this seemed risky);but save them and save the receipts. After a day or two, or even a week (!), return the items if they don't prove to be a good fit for the space.
This idea actually baffled me. When would I squeeze in the time to visit the stores to purchase the items and then display the items and then return them? What would I tell the salesclerk after keeping the items for several days? Would I be able to replace the packaging exactly as it was when purchased? Would I need to make up a good excuse? Would the salesclerk be able to see through my lies? Would I need to explain to her that I had "lived with" the art and accessories for a few days but then broken up with them?
Consequently, our house is noticeably lacking in décor. The walls are painted tan or grey or a special blend of tan and grey that looks either/or depending on the lighting. We have a set of built-ins next to the fireplace where we have some framed pictures of our sons, a few antique knick-knacks that belonged to my grandfather and my husband's father, and a giant letter S that my husband bought on sale at Kroger's when they put all their home goods on clearance.
Other than that, we have three paintings on the walls. That's three paintings TOTAL; and we have a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house with a kitchen, dining room, family room, living room, and downstairs den. I like to think we are minimalists; but that is not true. We are simply indecisive.
That's why I never would have guessed the gift my husband purchased for me three Christmases ago. Unlike previous holiday seasons, he did not ask me for a list. He had been strangely close-lipped about his shopping, and he seemed unusually relaxed. I decided to call my mom and investigate, knowing that my husband and mom usually confer prior to shopping in order to avoid giving me the same presents.
"It's good," my mother said. "His gift to you is really good this year. I never would have thought of it. You will never guess it. You have never asked for it; but you are going to love it. I almost cried when he told me about it."
For Heaven's sakes?!?! What in the world could he have bought for me that would bring my mother to tears? I was stumped. My husband is good at giving gifts; but usually I give him a pretty solid list to work from. I was dying to know, and I was more than a little worried that my gift to him would pale in comparison. I snooped around some; but I was unable to uncover even a hint. By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, my curiosity was killing me. I ripped into the paper and discovered that he had given me our homes for Christmas.
Months before the holidays, my husband had contacted the artist whom we had commissioned, years ago, to draw a pen and ink sketch of the church where we were married. He met with her and gave her a photograph of the little Cape Cod on Sunset Drive, where we had lived for 10 years, as well as a photo of the ranch-style house on Gondola Drive, where we currently live. My husband decided on watercolor for the medium. When I opened the wrapping paper and saw the paintings, I was overwhelmed...not just because I loved the paintings, but because there was no question whether or not they were a perfect fit. I didn't even have to "live with them" for awhile to figure that out.