On Interior Design

17 Apr

sof93 –

I would imagine there are all types of people out there who would want to hire an interior designer. In fact, most of those would probably be men of indeterminate ages and backgrounds.

Here’s my view on this: if you’re like me and have outlived two wives, you find yourself staring at the same furniture sitting on top of the same carpet for nearly a decade. I would love to be able to do something else with it, but I just really don’t have any ideas.

The carpet was purchased during the height of shag’s popularity during the 70’s. We (my wife and I) decided that it was time to lose the bright orange that had come to define our living room and were looking for something more muted and less violently tropical.

Unfortunately, all the carpet stores were stocking the same variety of multicolored shag carpet, one which resembled a Motel 6 floor crossed with an underachieving Chia pet. But since we were in the market, we found ourselves with no other choice. It was either take home what was available and make the best of a life that would suddenly seem incredibly temporary or buckle down and spend another decade or so with our retina-searing orange magnolia pattern.

Another decade passed and we ventured out to the carpet stores yet again in hopes of finding something to replace the slightly-worn motel room floor, which had begun to attract Gideon Bible salesmen and conventioneers from across the country. Something about that dark blue mottled with multi-colored flecks seemed to make our lives (and the lives of our infrequent guests) seem transitory and budget-priced.

Things were no better in the ’80s. We headed into the Carpet Mart only to find our selection limited to black, white or black and white patterns. The salesman assured us that this was all the rage with the stock market folks and various effeminate band members. We told him that we just needed something sensible and earth-toned. Of course, we were at least a decade to soon, or we would have found ourselves wallowing in colors named after trees, geographic features and muted emotions.

We ended up taking home a basic black carpet, feeling that this would cover up most spills and possible stains. Unfortunately, our two white Persians soon turned the new carpet into an white-haired atrocity and the low pile was dense enough to defeat even the strongest vacuum cleaners of the day. (What I would have given for a Dyson in those days! Well, not the $400-$500 they’re asking for them, but definitely some sort of appreciable sum. I might even have broken out the Benjamin. We kept one in a booksafe for “emergency use only.”)

And to this day, that supposedly black carpet has remained, gazed at with a boredom that frequently borders on derision by both my cats and I. They seem to tolerate it because it highlights their fur so keenly. I tolerate it only because I know the work and expense involved would make me regret ever having taking the initiative to do anything about it.

And don’t get me started on the lamp. It’s a housewarming gift from the late ’60s and has all the discreet charm of a protest march. Its combination of pea soup green and gunmetal grey makes me yearn for a simpler time, like the period of four years where I went completely colorblind thanks to some unexploded fireworks I had stored in the garage which suddenly changed to exploded, thanks to some rather careless pipe movements on my part.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are potentially millions of people who need some help fixing the place up. I’m sure my experiences are not the exception to the rule. I’d look for some help myself but I made several promises to my late wife over the years, including the solemn oath that I would never let another woman rearrange her furniture. Or sit on her “side” of the couch. Nothing was said about the carpet, but the furniture would have to travel as far as the kitchen at least if that’s ever going to be changed.

Good luck out there.

Clifton L. Tanager

10 Responses to “On Interior Design”

  1. jammer5 April 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    I feel your pain, bro. My wife and went shopping, when we were first married (which we aren’t now) for living room furniture. The missus knew exactly what she wanted, and I’m here to tell you it varied from store to store. We (she) finally on a massive couch/king size bed that took the front line of the San Diego Chargers to move.

    And the same thing with lamps: big. bold, ugly things that took up as much space as three children.

    My saving grace was a wing-back chair in which I inserted two stereo headphone speakers. I could turn on the stereo and listen to music, while nodding to my wife, as she said something something in a non linear tone. Needless to say we are no longer married as that didn’t go over too well when she found out. I still have the chair.

    • Clifton L. Tanager April 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

      Jammer –

      I don’t think that the “lack of communication” gets enough attention for its ability to extend marriages. Granted, it probably can’t save marriages, but it does at least allow you to collect a few more anniversary gifts.

      A man should always have a chair to call his own. But if you should decide to go this route, be prepared to battle your own offspring and their pets for sitting privileges. If nothing else, it can be the one piece of furniture in the living room that truly conforms to your taste, even as everything else gradually shifts from “useful” to “tasteful.”

      Thank you for the excellent comment, Jammer. Sometimes it takes a divorce to finally claim total ownership of your chair.

  2. fornormalstepfathers April 19, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    I want my house to look inside like a Japanese traditional house. My husband wants to have furniture that will last for decades – he has great taste, so we do not have ugly lamps:-)
    What we do have and can’t get rid of and also have to display in a place that will show it off – art we were be-gifted with by our relatives 🙂
    Where exactly do I display my mom’s portrait in pencil? 🙂

    • Clifton L. Tanager April 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

      FNSF –

      Your best bet for a “traditional” Japanese house follows two paths:

      1. Relocate to Japan and purchase a traditional Japanese house. While this may seem initially more expensive, the true savings come when considering you may not need to add more than some Kanji tattoos to your tweens to make it truly authentic. Another added bonus is the fact that all that lovely gifted art will be “too big” to make the trip.

      2. Sell your house to a traditional Japanese family. This is the less preferable of the two options as some Japanese families will have adopted a great many American traditions which will do little to redecorate your house. On the plus side, you’ll be able to buy your house back for cheaper as the market continues to depress, most likely with a koi pond or some tatami mats thrown in.

      As for your mother’s portrait, the best place to display that would be in your mother’s house. Tell her you believe she should have it as it captures her essence perfectly. If you can maintain a straight face, this pencil scrawl that slightly resembles your mother will no longer be an issue.

      If she requests more, take out an ad in the back of “Boy’s Life” touting your newly established art school, which any aspiring boy can enter if they can draw a picture of your mother.

      • elizabeth3hersh April 28, 2011 at 12:49 am #

        I had some really good jokes, but don’t want to risk jeopardizing my contract with Aflac.

      • Clifton L. Tanager May 3, 2011 at 4:18 am #

        Do they have anything to do with the recently ostracized Gibert Gottfried?

  3. elizabeth3hersh April 28, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    I missed this post when it first came out (my subscription didn’t come through)!! Thank you for the link at Heavy Rotation! As to carpeting, may I offer another perspective? Carpeting is disgusting. DIS-KUST-ING!! Ewwwww!!! Every middle schooler should be issued a Petri dish and a snip of carpeting in the lab. They will soon learn that there is a whole ECOSYSTEM growing within the piling. To wit: I had a beautiful oriental rug over hardwood flooring. The rug became soiled over time and rather than have it cleaned I decided to flip it over since the reverse side was intricately patterned and resembled Aubusson. No matter how many times I vacuumed UNDER the rug, more and more debris fell out from the fibers between weekly vacuuming. It was a bottomless pit of filth even though I am a meticulous housekeeper (with a touch of OCD). After a year of this I finally tossed the rug. I find it perplexing as to why Americans are so fixated on carpeting. It needs constant maintenance, emits formaldehyde fumes, and will require periodic replacing (ahem, Clifton). Why not make a one time investment in some nice tile, marble or hardwood flooring? There are so many alternatives. It’s pleasing on the eyes, easy to keep clean, pays for itself over time and adds to the value of the home (and without the hassle of carpet cleaners and replacement). I bet you have some very nice (pristine!) hardwood flooring under your carpeting Clifton. Pull up a corner and take a peek. By the way, that carpeting must REEK from your pipe smoking and at your age before long you may be dribbling (at both ends). Chuck the carpet! Ewwww!!!

    • Clifton L. Tanager May 3, 2011 at 4:25 am #

      Elizabeth –

      My apologies for this belated response. I took your advice and started pulling up some of the carpeting to see if I did have some fine hardwood underneath the eyesore of a carpet that’s been installed at the retirement community.

      Unfortunately, it appears that it’s carpet all the way down here. I gave up after the third consecutive carpet, whose progressive datedness began to give the apartment a tree-like impression of extreme age that is belied by the rather new facade erected out front.

      This would also explain why all the door frames have seemed, well, a little short. I just assumed that I had hit a late-peaking growth spurt and that the previous owners of this place had just been a little shorter than the average American, which would either make them very tall midgets or slightly shorter Orientals. I can’t count how many times I’ve bruised my inner thighs while not fully awake and running into the closed bathroom door.

      Thanks for the tip even though it didn’t pan out. I’ve grown accustomed to the constant pipe reek, however, and I’ll be damned if I’m quitting that at my age. (Or pulling up any more carpet.)

      • elizabeth3hersh May 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

        Hahahaha!!! That reminds me of a Victorian home I had inspected in New England. The inspection report revealed that the home had FIVE ROOFS, one laid on top of another. There were many, many other deficiencies, but that that one I remember well. I passed on the house purchase. Best $400 I ever spent.

        Seems like your multi-layered carpeting would be super squishy and exceedingly difficult to use rolling walkers. Let’s hope your hips hold up Clifton!

  4. Scott May 21, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Well you are quite correct: We “men of indeterminate ages and backgrounds” could certainly use interior designers. Yet whenever my mom comes over and moves one thing in my admittedly cluttered house, I forget where it was before. What I need is a personal chef, since I don’t cook (I would cook, were it not for the preparation and cleanup).

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