I hit the antique stores along south Broadway when I was twelve. An old Coca Cola tray was my first purchase. I would redecorate my room and take pictures. My love affair with decorating began. One of the greatest compliments I have ever received was from a young woman visiting our home. She declared that our house looked right out of a magazine.
Each of our homes have been an eclectic blend of travel, passions, and comfortable settings that call to entertain, play games by firelight, or to enjoy a glass of wine with a good book. And for my entire decorating life cats help fill in the décor. Our homes have always been warm and inviting, kid proof, and filled with color and fun. Until we moved into the apartment at the beginning of this year.
Now a strange, hazy memory, the loss of nearly everything we own, along with our lifestyle, dreams, and all of our investment into the farm last year, came an underlying sadness as we couch hopped for seven months. I had the most beautiful collection of antiques, New Mexican décor, blankets, vintage pieces, travel memories, homesteading items, and heirlooms. Not knowing where we would be, they all vanished from our grasp. Every last piece.
With the idea that everything could simply disappear again I went into this apartment without a desire to decorate. Hand me down furniture gifts from friends decorated the space with little life or care. Almost like I was punishing myself for losing everything. I figured if we didn’t collect anything it will be easy move again. So this place held a certain air of impermanence. A temporary dwelling. It never feels like home.
It started with a lumpy, uncomfortable hand me down bed. “That’s it!” I declared after another night of sleeplessness. “We are getting a new mattress.” Which led to a new bed frame…and as I walked around the showroom the flame was lit again.
Now, maybe decorating doesn’t seem that important. But I learned a valuable lesson about things with seemingly small value, they help make the rest of life better. A beautiful home is valuable to me. To live in a place of beauty is valuable to me. Even if it is all lost again, it matters not. What matters is here and now.
Small changes can completely transform a space. I removed hand me down mattresses from the living room that we used as a guest bed for our daughter and granddaughter and replaced it with a futon. It looks like something out of Hotel Budapest or a fancy old hotel. As we were looking for a coffee table I asked the salesman, who found Doug and I very amusing in our search for the perfect items, if he had a coffee table that would match our Hotel Budapest/New Mexican décor. We found a rather fun caged one with distressed boards. Without my oil lamps, we brought in soft lamps to create a nicer lighting than the harsh overhead. A quart of turquoise paint….well, let me just show you a bit of before and after…
I noticed that all chairs became catch-all stations. Two in the entryway, one in the bedroom. I removed the chairs in the entryway and replaced them with a sewing table that was gifted to me. By the incredible weight of it we suspected that the old treadle sewing machine was suspended over the warped boards. As I rolled it to its new position I must of shook it loose because one push and the most magnificent machine arose.
Nothing new was purchased in the dining room. I just displayed things to showcase my treasures, a basket of feathers, Grandma’s dolls, my new flute.
Here are photos of the living room before and after. A new futon and coffee table and some creativity enliven and cozy the space. Games and blankets are set inside the coffee table for easy access.
With the spare bed gone, I took the liberty to create myself a little space. A space for yoga, introspection, and a place that Maryjane can pile pillows up and watch movies. But, mainly a place to do yoga and meditate! A rug centers the space and a new picture adds beauty.
And finally, the space that spurred it all, the bedroom. Before and After…
And in these little changes we find our way home.