Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hey, Martha Stewart? I'm Talking to You.

Props to you, Martha Stewart. You cook, you clean, and you decorate your home for every holiday and special occasion. But how do you do it, Martha? How? I know you think your magazine is useful, helpful, but it’s not. I don’t understand what most of it means. And you say your projects take twenty minutes to throw together? A half-hour, tops? Martha, why do you lie? For us servant-less, artistically challenged folk, everything you ask us to whip up takes double – or triple – the time you say it will.

But here’s what I really want to ask you: When decorating a home, where do you start? When you walk into a space without one chair, rug or piece of furniture in it, how do you know what to do? Do you dream up the fixtures or the fabric first? The blinds or the coffee table? The bar stools or the barware? (Or the drinks? When do you drink the drinks?) And when do you paint? And how do you know if you should paint? And when is the right time to hang artwork? Tell me about that, Mar.

For years I dreamt of the day I’d have an entire condo to decorate, a fresh canvas. And now I have not only a fresh canvas but also a job (that pays me!), which means I can buy cool things to put in the condo. But I’m completely lost, like a pianist without a piano. Like an artist without paint. I’m a designer – I know I am! – without an idea. What will I do with this place?

Surrounded by brick walls, concrete floors, timber framework and sky-scraping ceilings, I travel to a 19th-century museum, an old liquor warehouse, a clothing manufacturer, when I push through the front door. If I had all the money in the world, I’d find out where the designers bought every piece of furniture in these model photos, and I’d buy it all and arrange my house just like the pictures. That way I’d be sure not to go wrong.

Did I mention this is a one-woman show? In case you didn't know, men aren’t motivated to put paintings on walls or throw decorative pillows on couches or even unpack boxes that have been lingering in the living room and under the computer desk for a month now. They don’t care about that stuff, so it’s up to me – the woman – to swoop in and fashion a home.

But it’s a Catch 22: Darren doesn’t like decorating or furniture shopping, but he doesn’t let me go wild and do just anything with the place. (“Because it’s his place, too.” And I guess in this case, it really is his place, what with his name on the mortgage and all.) So when I see something at Macy’s or Ikea, I can’t just buy it, I have to send him a picture message or something to make sure we both like it.

If it were up to me, everything would’ve been in place by week two: we’d have perfect bar stools against the bar, a trendy coffee table over a cozy rug, and the house would be snug and homey all year round. I’d turn the heat up to 70 degrees instead of letting it sit at an icy 62. We’d get one of those free-standing gas fire places and make it look built-in, organic.

But it’s not up to me. And to make matters more complicated? Dar’s not a fan of my style. He says it’s Country Cottage. (As in, “You’re comforter is Country-Cottage Green. Like, straight from Pottery Barn.”) (Since when is shopping at Pottery Barn a sin?)

Anyway, we had our first furniture-shopping outing this weekend (if you don’t count our three previous trips to Ikea). We drove for twenty minutes, deep into the Richmond, to a place called Avetex Modern Furniture. Its website explodes with chic furnishing and fixtures for modern homes – so not Country Cottage, but that’s okay – so I assumed the store would be just as great. Long story short, the “showroom” was just that: a room, small and stuffy, with about three things in it including a computer so you can access its website and purchase items online. (So what's the point of having a store? Can you answer that, Martha?) We walked in, walked out, and drove home. And that was that.

Photos by Apartment Therapy

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  1. This is great Megs, I can totally relate--even though I don't have my own condo. Martha needs to come down and hang out with us and see what normal, wallet-constrainted people are actually capable of decorating like.

    Keep it up!