Monday, July 28, 2014

Forgive me Father, I know I sinned

Vintage Polished Chintz fabric 

Interior decorating is not unlike the quest for perfection. I am quite certain that the best decorators and designers are perfectionists to one degree or another. Since attention to detail is tantamount to creating a magazine-worthy outcome, anything less than this focused quest would find you standing in the unemployment line, as tired and defeated as a wallpaper border. 

And, like most things in life, we get better at it with experience. There are some young ones out there who are creative and are full of original ideas, but you are not truly expert until you have made a few mistakes along the way, most of which usually have manifested in your own spaces. Choosing paint colours is one skill best left to a professional. It took years of ghastly choices and an awesome colour theory professor to help me fine tune this part of the job. Case in point. Before I switched my career path from Journalism to Interior Decorating, I painted several apartments without any real colour education. I just gravitated toward colour. BOLD colour. I gave no thought to the transition from room to room or how light might effect the depth of colour throughout the day and into the evening. I paid no heed to natural light versus artificial light, paint sheens, flat vs eggshell vs gloss (I liked gloss!). Despite my unfamiliarity with the colour wheel at the time, I did seem to have a natural inclination toward complimentary and triadic colour schemes. But I always made the mistake of going way too dark. 

In an effort to block out the harsh streetlights in one townhouse I rented, I decided to forfeit the street facing master bedroom to an office space and turned a very small second bedroom into what can only be described as a small cave once I slapped three coats of the darkest, glossiest forest green on the walls and a black-out window covering. Were it not for the all white duvet cover, you would not have been able to see the bed in the dark. It was the most dreary, depressing place to start the day, but it did make for the perfect room to sleep in after a late night. You never knew what time it was and we once spent an entire super hot humid Saturday in July holed up with the A/C blasting watching movies and eating popcorn, transforming it from bedroom to private theatre by just closing the door. It was 1986. Forest Green, Rosy Pinks and polished chintz were de rigueur.

Joining the fray of "what were you thinking?", was my next apartment painting frenzy. Again the bedroom took centre stage (guess I figured I could go a bit crazy in there away from the public eye and all). This time I was all agog over candy pink and apple green. I believe lacoste was doing a line of tennis and golf fashions in those shades around that time as well. They were way ahead of Lilly Pulitzer for the time. So, off I went in search of duplicating that combo. I found some Laura Ashley wallpaper with co-ordinating polished chintz fabric giving me that much needed jump off point. The paper had a creamy background with a shade of that apple green in a vertical stripe over which were layered ever present pink roses (gagging here now). I took the paper sample to the paint shop and was certain I had matched the pink and green perfectly. So if you can imagine, a feature wall in that paper, the facing wall in the pink and the two side walls in the green. Neither colours were perfectly matched but close enough I reckoned. And, a set of corner windows covered in ruffled balloon shades to top it all off! Then I painted a couple of garage sale bedside tables and stenciled the roses on the drawer fronts. OK, this is beginning to feel like a confession, only I am admitting my sins to more than one person. My penance is going to require a lot of Hail Marys for this one. Let's not forget, at the time, my closet was full of dresses and blouses with giant shoulder pads. I was in the second year of my first marriage and it ended in that apartment shortly after our fourth anniversary around the same time as we were ripping out the shoulder pads and sending Ms. Ashley packing. 

Proving once again that art can imitate life.

In the next edition of Decades of Designing Deb we will explore my adventure into the Southwest craze  and even more polished chintz as it hung on like decades old wallpaper to an unsized plaster wall.

Until then, stay on trend my friends. ;-)


Beth said...

Your taste is so elegant now, you have no need to atone for past "sins"!

Carla Sandrin said...

Think avocado appliances and burnt orange shag rugs. You were no more a sinner than any other decorator of the day!