Thursday, May 18, 2006

Your Perfect House

Today, right this minute, I am living in the perfect house.

And so are you.

No, really. You are.

When we first moved into this house, I tried to "Victorianize" it. I unloaded our boxes, the ones with crossed-out labels because we used to move all the time, and hung up lace curtains and Victorian paintings. I blithely scattered around the doilies, dried flowers, white gloves, white china, floral hats, and candles.

But my 1935 Craftsman Bungalow rebelled! It suddenly trumpeted a war between the heavy dark oak trim on the walls and windows and the lightweight Victorian delicate foo-foo stuff.

The heavy Craftsman doors and trim won. It got there first. It was built-in, it set the tone and it was there to stay. And afterward, when I weakly suggested to Tom that we paint all the woodwork white so that the Victorian look would stand a chance, his eyes and head almost popped and splattered. (Let's not go there...)

I changed my strategy. I declared I wanted to move. So on weekends, we drove down streets with tilting For Sale signs, we peeked inside house after house, and well, most of them had that same, heavy woodwork. I couldn't escape it. Or the other houses were either all wrong or else all right--but too much money.

So we ceased the house-hunting, the house-envying and started, instead, our house-accepting. And that has made all the difference.

Now I'm glad we didn't bail out on this poor old house which was just trying to be who it was created to be. For me, that would have been the coward's way out. And I would be less than what I have become by having stuck it out. I'd be less a decorator, less a carpenter, less a painter and less in my imagination and stick-to-it-tiveness and creativity.

You become a better, more creative decorator when you face challenges. When you spend time considering, "I've always wanted a ________ in my house. Hmmm... How can I create a ________ in this house where I now live?" ... instead of automatically thinking, "This house does not have a ______. I am so outta here."

Instead of studying everyone else's house (and my own discontent), I began re-looking at my own house and its potential to become my dream home. I began studying the whole Craftsman movement of the early 1900's from books and photos and magazines. We gave away/sold our Victorian stuff and bought Craftsman stuff which God, I think, snuck into big scratch-and-dent rooms just for us at 70% off. (He also sneeked some of it into yard sales and right on the curb for free). We brought it all home and wow! The war ended. There was peace between the windows, doors, trim and the newcomers--the similarly-styled, replicated furniture from the Craftsman era.

Finally, I had a foundation. And you know? A foundation is amazing. A foundation gives you something to build upon. It's a starting point--not a finish. A foundation becomes a guide, a springboard, a stepping-off place into your own creative pool where you can splash around and make new discoveries and bring home the treasures you spied along the way--the ones you now know, instinctively, will look just perfect in your home. The treasures you would love to surround you on your walls and upon your floors.

This is all why I said at the beginning that, today, you are living in the perfect home. Buying, renting, leasing--doesn't matter. It's just up to you to discover its perfect, custom-made foundation. It has one--every house does. And then you go from there. Decorate from there... research and learn about decorating concepts and tricks from there.... learn about yourself and what you love from there... put it all together from there. Become a more creative, intuitive, contented person from there.

Besides, perfect homes are not built by a team of carpenters and sub-contractors anyway. Not really, or rather, not wholly. A truly perfect home is built by those who awaken in its rooms, its beds, each and every morning... by those creative enough to make a beautiful home on the inside, and with imagination enough to create the perfect surroundings on the outside. And those brave enough to call it good.

The challenge then becomes to create something you love out of something you barely even like at all...

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