I’m embarrassed to see I have not managed a post since June. Alas, it was that kind of summer. Three funerals and no weddings– but we did get a visit from the beloved grandchild. Who, his parents report, at 8 months and change has become a whirling dervish so we feel blesssed to have had him in a less mobile, more snuggle bunny phase.
I lie awake at night hoping they have been diligent in their baby-proofing and marvel that decorating around children–and pets–is no longer an issue for me. At one time, besides two children, we had a couple of lizards, something called an erf, gold fish, a lab mix, a sheltie and a pygmy African hedgehog. The challenge was to keep all those animals healthy and happy without the house looking (and smelling) like a barn. Now all I have left at home is a husband who is fairly low maintenance; as long as there’s food in the fridge and I toss him a beer or two, he’s happy.
But our decorating hasn’t changed all that much, in fact, surprisingly, we still have a lot of the same stuff we had when the kids were toddlers. We’ve never had a formal living room or dining room. Our couch, bought second hand years ago, is a decidedly dressy camelback style with mahogany trim, but I upholstered it in a tone on tone blue denim so it was instantly more inviting. I can’t show a photo of it because it is decidedly tatty and I can’t come to grips with the idea that it could–after 20 years–be time to move on and get a more comfy couch that may be a little larger in scale than I would like. Want to vote family? The coffee table is a child friendly, cut down antique pine table with a big drawer for coasters and reading glasses and then there’s a couple of slipcovered wing chairs.
I must confess there is another probem couch, a Biedermeier beauty bought in Denmark, not like anything else we own, but it was a good deal so we took it (temptation is a hazard of the trade I’m afraid.) This sits with a pair of bergere chairs, once gilt framed with green and gold upholstery but Keith painted the trim an antiqued white and we reupholstered them in linen so they feel much calmer. Then there is a Danish secretary in original buttery paint, a long Chinese sideboard, three or four end tables and that’s my living room.
The dining room is open to the kitchen at one end and the living room at the other and in there we have a big, battle scarred pine hutch stuffed with old blue willow platters, and a farm table. There is a grandfather clock with peeling paint, (we do have one young visitor who comes once a year who I have to keep an eye on because she likes to peel it a little more), and a glazed cupboard from Spain that holds the spoils from years of buying antiques abroad. But these treasures are up high and behind locked doors, safe from little paws.
The beauty of buying antiques is that one more knick or scratch– unless you are of the high gloss, Chippendaled mahogany crowd–generally is not a big deal. Signs of wear are to be expected. Do I use coasters? Yes. Do I go crazy when my family and friends don’t? No. A little bit of furniture polish and the marks go away. Slipcovers are key–easily washed or dry cleaned when mishaps occur. Just not white slipcovers; but that is for another blog and another day. “My experience with shabby chic” to be continued…