We’re about to embark on some intensive furniture acquisitions at our home over the next several months. I’m fastening my seat belt for a steep learning curve on the finer elements of form, concept, and contrast. My own tastes can be fairly pedestrian, going back to my early adult years when everything was only ever in the color of brown. Thankfully, though, I’ve never had a desire for gold.
When it comes to interior design, my tendencies run to those big puffy couches that you see at Big Lots. They seem comfy, look like they’ll wear well, and can be purchased in one easy payment. What’s not to like? It screams “You can eat ribs on this as much as you want and no one will know!”
I look at furniture as most Americans look to restaurant food: I want it cheap and plentiful.
My lovely wife, however, has slightly more refined ideas. She’s thinking along the lines of chic, modern, bohemian, organic… and something called wabi-sabi. I have no idea what the last one really is, but I’m guessing it means I’ll be eating sushi on the couch instead of ribs.
Since getting married, Gorgeous and I have limped along on the home decoration front. When she moved into my bachelor apartment back in Fresno, I had a combination of previous marital cast-off furniture and odds and ends that I picked up via Craigslist or at places which in hindsight I’ll generously refer to as “antique stores.” If it didn’t have mold, an excess of pet hair, or stains that could be an entire plot on CSI, it was good enough for me.
None of that furniture exists in our home today. I recall having absolutely no part in the pricing of items for the moving sale we held after I retired, but I do remember how quickly everything went that day. If someone as much as looked at a piece of furniture, Gorgeous offered them 75% or more off the price tag she had placed on it only minutes earlier.
A few days later we filled a U-Haul for our cross-country trek only with kitchen items, clothes, books, and boxes of personal mementos. Even the Mormon pioneers packed a spare rocking chair, I bet.
After arriving in Florida our first priority was to buy a semi-decent bed. Then we acquired furniture pieces that we knew ahead of time would be temporary. For the last three and a half years, we’ve outfitted our rental condos with only the meager of furnishings. So embarrassed has my beautiful wife been with our living arrangements that nearly all of the friends and family who’ve visited us haven’t even been allowed to come to our home.
“How great that you’ve come to see us… we’ll meet you at the Starbucks down the street in ten minutes!“
But now that we’re in own home, it’s time to fill it with sofas, chairs, a dining room set, bedroom furniture, etc. Every room needs to be thought through completely. The initial bed we bought will be moved into the guest room to make way for a brand new bed we bought only last week but hasn’t yet arrived. And somehow that guest room, which doubles as my office, needs to be designed in such a way that it replicates those transformer toys, so that it can switch identities when guests come to stay.
For at least the next year, I suspect vacations and mini-road trips will be severely reduced in favor of “pretty things” which need to be purchased. Thank God the new tax law was written with middle-income people like ourselves in mind! Is our timing perfect or what?
Although we completely agree on how we’ll pay for everything (short-term savings, current income, plus a dash of financing) and which furniture stores we like for the big pieces (West Elm, Rove Concepts), where we seem to not really be in lock step is with the overall look of what we’re ultimately going to settle on. Gorgeous has put a lot thought into this for the past couple of years, spending time in between clients looking at Pinterest and furniture store web sites for ideas. By contrast, I’ve spent most of my time plugging numbers into retirement web site calculators, and salivating at sites devoted to vintage stereo components.
In other words, I haven’t thought about furniture at all unless it’s been about something big enough to hide speaker wire. But at the moment I’m literally being introduced to all kinds of words and terms, and there’s a hope and expectation on the part of my blushing bride that I will engage with her to offer constructive thoughts and opinions. As intellectual exercises go it’s not exactly like having to defend a dissertation. But it does require me to up my game a bit.
And so it goes with second marriages. It’s healthy and even therapeutic to live in a home that focuses on the present rather than the past. We haven’t brought in “relics” from our previous marriages, and that’s a good thing. And in spite of my ignorance in nearly all matters of style and design, it is good to have new possessions that can offer a fresh start to our life together.
I remember when my parents retired, and my mother began a process of redesigning all the rooms in the family house. At first it was stressful for my dad because he liked his home as it had been. But eventually he liked all of the changes that were made. They had a contemporary home again, and it represented to them a shared comfort for a new period of their life. It was no longer simply the home where they raised a family; it became instead a place for just the two of them.
That’s our goal too. To fashion a place that embodies our current life.
So unfortunately we’re still not ready to offer you a place to stay if you swing into town. But by this coming summer we might finally at least let you in the front door. And I promise there’ll be plenty of wasabi around for that sushi too.
Until next time…