The organization had its end-of-year soiree for members, an event that included a lovely French-themed selection of heavy hors d'oeuvres and desserts (but I have to say, my macarons would have been tight competition for theirs!). For reasons you'll understand in a minute, they served only white wine. The food was bracketed a concert by a remarkable trio that played music by Faure, Debussy, Ravel and several others. A stunning evening.
The event was held in someone's home in the part of the city I call Izzoland. Tom Izzo is our basketball coach and lives where the big houses are because he is paid several times more than the university president. (There is something VERY wrong about that fact, I might add, and I don't care how much you like basketball.) We walked up a long, curved driveway in a wooded lot when we arrived and when we entered the house we (or at least I) gasped.
It was an avalanche of white, with a huge bank of two-story windows that stretched across the living and family rooms, overlooking a pond and wooded area that might just convince me to like winter if I lived with that view. Maybe. In autumn it would be to die for.
But as I was looked about the room I couldn't get away from white overload. Almost everything in that space was white. White carpeting, white furniture, white marble, white counters. The only accents were the beige trim, shiny black coffee tables and the occasional painting on the wall, along with a china cabinet with beautiful pieces that were -- yes, white. There wasn't a hint of clutter. They could put the house on the market today, no staging required. It was very contemporary, very sleek. Extremely elegant. Very not me.
Now, I like white. In fact, two of my favorite blogs, Jacqueline's and Susan's, are decorating/antique blogs and their use of white makes my heart sing. Karla is one of the quintessential "paint it white" bloggers and it looks great. All three of these women (and I'm sure many others) work with a white palette in large part, but there is a charm to it. You can call it shabby chic or call it lived in or loved or filled with personality and soft plush, deep cushions, gentle edges and warmth.
But when I was looking at this marvelous house with its very hard, stark edges I had a stunning realization about myself.
I couldn't live there and there were more than a few reasons why.
I have a cat that periodically hurls and never on the patterned rug or the kitchen floor, but always on the lightest carpet in the house (it was an admittedly bad decorating choice, considering that the family room is also the back-door and garage entry room. It is also the room where people congregate at a party because it is by the kitchen and small and folks seem to like that. Consequently it has seen more than its share of spills.)
Which brings me to wine, specifically red wine. I just like red wine too much to be worried about spilling all the time. And I would spill because that's just what I do.
|Can you imagine our Cork Poppers doing this on a white carpet? Maybe the first couple of pours -- but by the sixth tasting, we'd definitely be living dangerously.|
|Lizzie on white cushion. You will be pleased to note that now there is a navy fleecy thing covering that cushion. Because she likes that chair and we'll get on a lot better if I don't have to use the Helmac every time someone stops by.|
Then there is the clutter issue. Now, I know these folks cleaned up for a party. We all do. But I'm not familiar with something called "bare surfaces." They make me nervous. Consequently, when you walk into my house, you can see my life story. You can tell my passions by the books on my shelves (I didn't see any books there, but I suspect those were in another room. I hope they are.)
You'd figure out that I love Paris, art and creating, theatre, biographies and England and that I have very diverse tastes in reading. That I collect things and have the collections passed on to me from my mom -- Hummels and Doulton figurines, cut glass and seasonal whatevers -- bunnies in spring, snowfolk in winter, Santa at Christmas. There are photos everywhere and too much art on the walls. But I don't really care. It's what I like.
The art room/office is organized (except for a few piles here and there) but no one else would ever be able to see that. I like to look at things I've done, so they're all on display. Not prettily, necessarily, but there. And I love my friends' work, too -- so yes, that's here, too.
|Art room shelves. Organized? Yes. Spacious? No.|
I lose things in my house. The elegant satiny jacket I wear only when I get really dressed up disappeared from October until last week. It was found in Rick's closet. It took me three weeks to find my favorite blue pants after they came up from the laundry. And just a couple of days ago I found my tennis shoes that were missing since October. Don't even ask where those turned up.
And we won't talk about the basement and garage.
Coming home from the party I was reminded of the movie I saw the night before on TNT. It was called "Holiday." Cary Grant was a happy-go-lucky guy who wanted to make enough money to be able to live his fancy-free dreams. While on a holiday he meets a woman whom he discovers -- when going to meet her father -- is very wealthy. He arrives at their penthouse and enters through the kitchen, thinking it must be the front door (because that huge facade where the taxi driver left him off couldn't possibly be their house.) The kindly butler shows him into a massive room that makes Downton Abbey look like that little dump in the country. He meets his finacee's father (who expects him to enter their family business) and her siblings -- the sad and unfulfilled party-boy brother and the black sheep sister (Katharine Hepburn) who has her own digs in this palace -- a cozy set of rooms with a burning fireplace, comfy furniture, all the toys of childhood and lovely things all about. She has his whimsy, spirit and a zest for life that is stifled in this mansion. And, as you might expect in the end they get together.
I wondered if our hosts had that cozy space, the place where they kick off their shoes and if they leave them under the coffee table rather than neatly stored in shoe boxes or a rack in the closet. And, that when someone discovers them there the next morning, they'll not think ill of them for doing so. A spot where they can leave up the jigsaw puzzle or the incomplete craft project, the model train or the tacky macaroni art made by a grandchild and filled with love. I suspect they might. They were warm, lovely people. And I hope they do, because they deserve to live, to have a black cat (or dog) and drink red wine or eat pasta with red sauce in front of the TV.
But I couldn't live with what I saw. I want my sheddy, pukey cat and red wine. I want to know that if I come in from filling the bird feeders, no harm is done should some seed stick to the soles of my shoes. And I most certainly need to live surrounded by things I love, out there for everyone to like -- or not -- at their choosing.
|You will note that sheddy, pukey cat with claws has bonded with the new rug. It's much nicer to pull up than the cardboard on her "scratchy box." We are in negotiations.|
That said, the time has come to let go of a little bit. Letting go is difficult for me. I don't let go of people or things. Everything is connected with memory, with emotion. But the fact is, most folks other than I don't really care about my stuff. So maybe it's time to go back into the basement and fill up another 10 bags or more -- and then actually take it to Goodwill. (Because I know I will never price it all for a sale!)
Ah, the thoughts we contemplate and the lessons we learn between Faure and Ravel.