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Our Things Have Meaning

Design is not about perfection.  It's about meaning. 

We build our homes—with our lives—over time.  They don’t just poof, come together, like some magical HGTV home show.   The vase you see when you walk through my front door came from a boutique I fell in love with in Albuquerque on a fun trip with my husband, then boyfriend, where I delivered my first original research.  The top is cracked because the wind blew it over while we were trying to load it in the back seat of my BMW coupe.  Oh how I loved that car.  Oh how I fretted over that vase.  It’s glued back together now, and I see a memory.  

We find ways to incorporate our memories into our homes, and that’s the real meaning of design.  The problem may be that those vases or those knick-knacks we pick up along our journey don’t always look so good when displayed.  But with the right eye, and the right surrounding elements, sometimes they can all come together beautifully so that when you look over on a shelf, a wall, or a dresser, you’re comforted with what you see.  It’s about collection, not about cheap, made-in-China/Taiwan/Whatever fillers from discount stores.

A few years ago, I went through a design cleanse in which I boxed up and got rid of all the meaningless decorative pieces I had been hoarding.  I went through a phase of squirreling items from Ross while building my first household with my husband.  The goal was fill, not collect, discern, or cherish.  It was a hurried, yet fun, effort, but the things I wound up with were just that—things.  They were empty.  During my quality over quantity baptism, I made a pact to stay true to my journey when building my home and allow it to come together over the years.  The 1950s orange and black swirled glass vase stays.  The chintzy orange birdcage I Ross-bought for a vignette goes. 

When I was deliberating over outing a Thomasville table in my kitchen that I didn’t think fit with my style, my mother-in-law told me that she thought my home was all about “well-made items,” and that it “fit my style perfectly for that."  It’s true.  I’m about craftsmanship now.  I have even gone so far as to get rid of inexpensive upholstered furniture whose legs start to wobble in the first year.  I’m replacing those pieces—slowly—with older ones that I find on consignment or estate sales and recover.  These will be with me forever, or as long as I want them to.  They are not disposable like so many things in our lives are now.  

My latest victim: a Queen Anne’s chair I picked up at a consignment store while on a road trip getaway with my husband in Scottsdale--our first since the birth of our 14-month-old son.   I talked the price down to a whopping $64, and at the time, I thought it was a re-make, but I saw such craftsmanship in the frame and the upholstery job.  The white fabric was stained (hence, the price), but I figured that the upholstery was in such great shape that I would figure out something.

My mom suggested—aren’t mom’s great?—that I look at buying fabric paint, and come up with a design to cover the stains.  I started looking at images of painted chairs.  I found a few that I liked, but only a few.

From Apartment Therapy

I’m not sure I would like the general look of these with my green frame.  I hadn’t planned on making this chair such a pop piece.  I want it to look simple and stunning in my bedroom.

I gave cleaning my chair a try with my carpet cleaner from Costco.  Uh, that did make a difference.  I wound up moving some of the dirt around on the fabric so that now I have some waves of yellow residue around the fabric, though the stains are now barely visible.

I think I’ll try a cleaning one more time before I rip the chair apart or start painting a landscape on the pristine upholstery.  I’m sure I’ll be wincing in fear on the first few brushstrokes.  But regardless of the design challenge, the memory of acquiring the chair will stay with me.  When I look over at this chair in the corner of my boudoir, I will see the last stop on the way home from Scottsdale with my husband—my first trip away from Wyatt, and the first weekend moment in almost 2 years that I felt my creative pulse, and for two days got to indulge in that energy—finally.

Found on
Now this, of course, is more my style. 

1st Photo of Gold Gilded Chair with Painted Fabric: 
Chair Painted by Benice Horowitz: Roderick Shade