Sunday, July 27, 2014

Decades of Designing Deb

Lately I am obsessed with small houses. I seek them out on-line. I subscribe to Small House Bliss and Tiny House Swoon and gravitate toward little cabins and treehouses in the countryside and on islands and in the mountains when searching for travel accommodations. I marvel at the smart and functional designs. I imagine myself living in them. Cooking in them. Sleeping in them. Bathing in them. The mere thought of living in a massive square footage house now, sends chills down my spine. I long for simple and compact interiors. No more than 2 toilets and more than likely only one. Were it not for visitors, there would never be a need for more than one.

However, there is one caveat. I want lots of outdoor space surrounding the small house of my dreams. For the last year I have been busy researching and scrolling and pinning and narrowing down the details of exactly what I want in a house now. I have had a bit of a trial run in the small house we are renting right now. It is only about 1100 sq ft. The three bedrooms are small. There is one bathroom. One water closet. A small but functional kitchen. A living area that barely gets used. A small dining area off the kitchen that does get used every day. It is all on one level. The main areas are tiled and the bedrooms are carpeted. It is easy to clean and is more than enough space for 2 people. 

What makes it really perfect is the large covered patio and front porch that doubles the usable space and where we spend a lot of time when the weather is warm...which here in Queensland is most of the year. The secret to managing in a small house is to avoid clutter. In other words, keep STUFF to a minimum. Easier said than done. Already, in 6 short months, the cupboards and closets are close to full. The double car garage is currently only housing one car, as one of the spaces is slowing filling up with tools and garden stuff and 'future projects". I look at how quickly we accumulate things and it actually scares me a bit. Do you ever drive by a "hoarder house"? When I see places like that it actually causes a physiological response in my body. I shudder and avert my eyes as though avoidance might restore the temporary loss of qi it just caused. I could never live that way. Stuff would bury me. Bury me physically and spiritually. 

This knowing is useful. It has informed me. I know how I need to live to feel peaceful. Even as a child I always felt better when my bedroom was tidy and orderly. It would get messy and cluttered, but never for long. I liked it to look pretty and I would often spend an entire Saturday re-arranging the furniture and my things until the vignettes were pleasing to me. My mother would help me re-decorate my bedroom every few years when my tastes changed as I got older. One of my fondest childhood memories was the day I came home when I was about 7 and I had a new bed and dresser. It was sort of white french provincial looking and the bed head had what could only be described as a faux canopy. The posts went almost to the ceiling and were joined by a valance box that contained a ruffled swath of billowy sheer fabric. I felt like a princess sleeping in that bed. Years later when my tastes matured and I became aware of quality and design, I would look back on that early introduction to furniture and simultaneously grimace and smile at the memory.

The dresser was matching and the lamp that sat on it was a hideous looking thing with a poodle base and one of those wavy plastic shades covered with a stiffened muslin-like fabric. I recall I did not like it even then.  Once, when I was playing make-believe and trying to create a dim atmosphere, I put a tea towel over it and as I went about my morning as mistress of the manor, the plastic started to melt and I only noticed when the smell started to permeate the room. From that day forward, my lamp took on a whole new look of deformity. It was only a short time later that a bottle of nail polish spilled on the dresser top creating a patch of bubbly veneer giving the unsightly shade some company. For weeks I tried to hide the damaged spot from my mother with embroidered doilies (aaack!). 

From this early foray into the world of decor and design, I went through many phases. For a time in my late teens and early twenties I was mad for anything Victorian. Gasp! My last bedroom in my parent's house featured a wall of imported wallpaper from France that was a collage of antique posters of Victorian women in full period costume. It was one of the first really expensive interior design purchases I made. It became the focal point in the room and everything else was chosen around it. Dark navy blue carpet and walls and mahogany furniture created a feeling of old worlds - exactly what I wanted - a world completely different than the one I was living in. Someplace dark and mysterious and exotic.   The previous incarnation of the room had been a bright yellow and white theme. We had even covered the hardwood floors with a crazy vivid floral vinyl lino that featured slightly raised, padded daisies. Big bold happy daisies. So, the departure from light and airy and happy to the dark and dreary and heavy Victorian theme was not unlike the progression from light-hearted pre-teen to brooding, smoking, know-it-all 15 year old. 

My journey in life has always been reflected in my decor. 

Tomorrow I will look back at my 20's. 

Yes. Russian Balloon Shades will make an appearance. Yikes!

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