Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Partying with Mrs. America

A lifetime ago the farmer was traveling alot on business. From Monday to Friday he'd be in Canada and home again on the weekends. My days were filled with peanut butter, sick kids and.....well, I don't think I need to tell you what my life was filled with. You know.

My friend Marge called me one evening and said, "I'm concerned."

"About what?" I asked.

"I think you're suffering from Mommy flu."

"What's Mommy flu?" I asked.

"Well, last week when we went out to lunch you reached over and cut all my meat into tiny little pieces."

"Yeah, so???? Wasn't it small enough?"

"No, really," she continued. "You seriously need to get out and mingle with some adults."

"You think?"

"Yes. I snagged an invitation to a client's gallery show. It's a cocktail party and a show."

"Cocktail party?"

"Yeah, you remember. Hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Conversation."

"Oh, hmmmm, yeah I think I vaguely remember something like that."

Saturday night arrives and the farmer and I meet up with Marge and her husband. Her client is a famous artist who's work was seen in every mall across America. She was talented and designed dreamy triptychs which filled the void created by the now unpopular sofa size oil paintings. Her home occasionally served as a gallery for her work. To top it off she was a runner up in the Mrs. America contest. Overachiever!

When we arrived at her beautiful townhome I commented to Marge that this must be how the other half lived.

Everything was perfect. Absolutely perfect. And clean, spotlessly, stunningly clean. She had children. Where was the stuff of kids? There must be a hidden room somewhere.

We nibbled, we drank, we chatted and marveled at the originals of her published works. Marge and I toured the place, peeking into every corner. It was then that an uneasy feeling set in. It was too perfect, as if it was all a computer generated image. There was nothing out of place but more importantly, nothing personal or funky. No collections or family photos.

I know some artists. They're funky, original and have a quirky sense of humor. This place reflected none of that. It was as if we'd stepped into the Stepford Zone. This woman's home was quirk-free and very serious. The furniture was contemporary but so unremarkable that the moment we stepped out of the door I'd forgotten what it looked like. There was not one item that was memorable or made an impression.

There were no Guatamalan jaguar masks.


Or odd round rocks on a bookcase.


At this point in my life I didn't know alot about decorating, but I knew that this townhouse was a lesson in how NOT to decorate. Vee's son raised the question about what makes a house a home. It's hard to put your finger on it but certainly it's a personal stamp, something that reflects your personality or your viewpoint. And in my mind it must contain a little bit of the unexpected. I'd love to hear your opinions on homes that have impressed you with their originality or little surprises that made an impression on you.

Tomorrow - It's supposed to snow again today so maybe we'll bake something AFTER we plow....again


Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

I've seen that kind of home...

That mask is incredible and I'm sure that there is a story behind it.

My plowman is here now. Thank goodness. I don't think that I have the strength to run the snowblower. I'll just be visiting my blogging buddies and then heading back to bed.

You have fun plowing!

C.C. said...

Great post! We're a foreign service family and we love going into the homes of other traveling families because you can see from all of their stuff where they've lived. You don't have to ask...it's all out on display. Samovars, gorgeous pieces of fabric, suits of armor, masks, kimonos, lots and lots of soapstone sculpture...like traveling, mini museums!

diane said...

I've been so lucky. For almost 20 years I have worked in people's homes. On average, I see about 36 homes a year. All the extremes and all the in betweens. Rich, poor, filthy,sanitized,modern,traditional, etc.
The houses I feel the "homeyness" and warmness from are from the owners who love themselves enough to let their own individual style come through. They're honest and unafraid to be themselves and you can't help yourself not to feel this in their home.
There was one home that I worked at for just one day about 10 years ago. I almost floated for days after being in this woman's home. She recently lost her husband. They lived right on the Chesapeake Bay and spent most of their years away sailing the globe. You could feel the love they had in this home in every square inch. You could tell that every item had personal, sentimental meaning. Her home literally had an aura to it.

More often than not, I find myself cheer leading my clients along in hopes of them owning and feeling good about their style. There's way too much fear over making the "wrong" decision. If you love dark purple walls, how can it be wrong? I see more people have problems with their choices because they can't totally commit to what they like and they end up watering it down. You can always feel and see the awkwardness of these half measures.
The key to me is not any particular style, or color, or money for that matter. It's the ability to choose something you personally like without hesitation. You don't blink and you certainly don't think about what other's will think.
These are the houses that are homes. The owners allow you to see who they are on a personal level. And it's that intimacy that makes me feel not only comfortable but privileged. Their home is yelling..."this is the real me...like it or lump it!". It's infectious like laughter.

Suzanne said...

Vee - you're right, it is a mask. Surprisingly enough and contrary to the doom and gloom predicted by the forecasters it hasn't started snowing yet. Stayed tuned. And I say good for you for getting a guy to plow for you!

c.c. - WOW, I'd say you have a fascinating life and get to see some great collections. Like you said, mini museums. It's always interesting to see what people choose to buy when they're in foreign places. We were really drawn to the Jaguar mask.

Diane - you've said it all very well. I was wondering, have you been back to that house that had the gorgeous bedroom...or was it a guest room? I'd love to see a pic because you made it sound just so wonderful.

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