How hard are you willing to work, and what would you sacrifice for a perfect, "magazine spread" home? I'm not talking about marrying someone 40 years older in order to be able to hire Nate Berkus and purchase a $20,000 custom sofa (yeah, I'm looking at you Katie Lee Joel), I'm talking about how much time, effort, and cold hard cash you're willing to shell out to make your current home as magazine perfect as possible. How long are you willing to search for a "perfect" rug, accesory, piece of art, etc? How much time are you willing to devote to styling the open shelves in your kitchen? Are you willing to put your appliances away after every use in order to preserve the serenity of your all white kitchen and better show off your backsplash? Are you willing to enforce a no shoes in the home rule to try to maintain your white painted floors? Are you willing to fluff the down cushions on your sofa after each and every time you sit on it? Are you willing to Swifter your dark, dark, I said I wanted them dark, dammit, wood floors everyday to maintain their ebony sheen free of dust? Would you rather spend your tax refund on a Louis Vuitton purse or a Louis XVI settee?
I've been thinking about this lately, especially after a consultation and presentation to a potential client. Their home, which they've just finished renovating after Katrina damage, had some striking features designed by the previous owner, an architect. However, I could tell that wife was not houseproud. In other words, it was soon obvious that she was not the kind of person that goes around carrying pillows, flowers, and accessories from room to room trying to find that exactly right combination. (You know you do that.....I know I do). Her priorites lay elsewhere, which of course is perfectly fine. However, this lack of real interest in her house created a challanging situation for me as a designer. Before it was damaged by Katrina, she had moved into the home, added the necessary things to the existing design details, and was happy with that. Now that she had an opportunity to start fresh, she wanted it to be pretty, and personal, and polished, and perfect. However, since she's never really been into design, she honestly had no real idea of the time, effort, and money that go into making a house really fabulous. Even though my design budgets are actually on the lower end of professional design (if you compare design projects to autos, I'm usually working in the range of a higher end toyota with some options---we're not talking a rolls royce budget here), at hearing that one fabric that we wanted to use in a limited amount cost $67/yards, the wife said, "My husband works too hard for his money to throw it away like that."
That's a valid viewpoint. But it did make me think of what it takes to make your house fabulous, and how much freaking work it is. Sometimes I wished I didn't care so much about my decor. I can't afford clothing AND upholstery, so I wear Target's best while saving for high end fabrics. But there is a backlash. I, unfortunately, have an all or nothing type of personality. I'm either fanatical about every decor detail, frantically decanting my detergent into better packaging, or I'm so bummed that my home falls short of perfection that I can only be bothered to do laundry when the pile of discarded clothing become an insurmountable obstacle to the bed. I need to learn balance.
And the real irony is, I know better. I know that magazine homes don't even really look like that. Yes, they ARE gorgeous, but the photographs are as accurate as a celebrity's Vogue cover (when Drew Barrymore was on their cover, she was so heavily photoshopped I didn't realize it was her until I read her name....and I still couldn't see the resemblance). Those rooms have been cleaned, staged, styled (often with borrowed objects), and photoshopped into unreal creations. Recently two bloggers I enjoy reading, and who both have gorgeous homes, posted about photo shoots in their homes. Even though the homes were attractive enough to attract national media attention, both were basically transformed with professional stylists and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of additional accessories and furnishings. The point is, when I look around my cluttered kitchen and compare it to House Beautiful's Kitchen of the Month, I need to remember that HB's kitchen doesn't really look like that. At least not all the time.
With that said, I think I'm going to go style my kitchen cabinets. Just in case Stephen Drucker drops by.