Saturday, March 29, 2014

Borrowed post

Published in the Houston Chronicle Homes section, March 29, 2014

Open floor plans throw etiquette rules by the wayside

By Joseph Pubiliones
CREATORS SYNDICATE


Before you select the kind of sofa you want, what color you will paint your walls, or where you will hang that precious work of art, [there will] come decisions about your home that are as relevant today as when man thought caves made good dwellings. What kinds of dwelling you choose to live in says volumes about who you are.

No matter where we are in life, or in the world, each decision about how we live is informed by how we perceive the world and how it perceives us. Yes, there is something about keeping up with the Joneses in there as well. But more to the point, the same as our prehistoric predecessors, the first decision when contemplating a home and decorating usually is about who will sleep where and whether there is enough space for gathering, as well as decisions about functional spaces, such as the kitchen and bathrooms.

It used to be decorum and etiquette defined the layout of our homes. A front porch is where one sits and enjoys the breeze, a parlor for receiving one's guest, a drawing room for entertaining, a formal dining room with an adjacent butler's pantry, etc. With today's great rooms and open floor plans, most rules have gone by the wayside, making it hard to navigate through anyone's home without crossing through what may be private or semi-private space all in the name of "casual" living. As a result, manners and rules of how we live have gotten tangled up by this sense of openness in any household today.

Still our society instills certain architecture and interior design that gives signal about what is public versus private. A larger, more embellished front door symbolizes it is a main entry point. Equally, a sofa upholstered in a shiny, striped fabric gives clues it is for special occasions. These decorations are symbols of self and about how you want to be perceived.

Decorating your home is the ultimate exercise in self-development and self-realization. It is autobiographical if you do your own interiors and biographical if aided by an interior designer. All the pieces you choose to display - art, photos, heirlooms and furnishings - help tell your story to those who visit your home.



MY PERSONAL RESPONSE: While there are reasons I want to save and share this column, there are also disagreements with some of the statements made by the author.

I do think some designers take their work too seriously, or have a self-inflated ego that attempts to turn their home design into something philosophical, just as this author has done. This is not unlike any number of topics we read about. The article sounds wonderful, is a great read, caused me think, while pointing out how design has changed through the years. Yet I can't agree with the bulk of the narrative since it is written from some one's perspective that seems to say home design has more importance than anything else in a family's life.

"What kind of dwelling you choose to live in says volumes about who you are," could sound great in a college design course, but isn't necessarily true. When first married, we had a choice of one house or nothing. Literally! We chose the house. My husband was transferred to a small town without an abundance of real estate. We could afford one house. We didn't care what style it was, we had to have a place to live. My husband also added his name on a waiting list for a fairly nice apartment complex in town. While on our honeymoon, the complex called my husband's office with news about a vacancy. A co-worker saw the message on my husband's desk (the days before answering machines) and returned the call to take the apartment for himself. "What kind of dwelling you choose to live in says volumes about who you are" yelled that we were newlyweds with limited resources, moving into a small town that had one rental.

"No matter where we are in life, or in the world, each decision about how we live is informed by how we perceive the world and how it perceives us" is not even worthy of a response.

While I can see truth in the third and fourth paragraphs, it is the final part of the last paragraph that caught my attention.  But I can not skip over "Decorating your home is the ultimate exercise in self-development and self-realization." I disagree. While I love beautiful homes, life is not about design. Design is a bow on the package, if that. Life is about families, teaching, praying, singing, dancing, living, hurting, crying, jumping up and down with joy, sharing, protecting, and hugging in the middle of homes great and small. It does not matter what type of home a child is raised in if he or she is loved, nurtured and cared for. That child can reach great heights if a family is behind him or her. On the other hand, if a child is left to feel uncared for in a professionally decorated home, that little one is missing out on the most important blessing a child can receive.

"All the pieces you choose to display - art, photos, heirlooms and furnishings - help tell your story to those who visit your home."  Tell your story? I really think this author values his design work a bit more than it is worth. I agree we should really love the items we choose to buy for our homes, but if we are honest, we have to admit that last minute purchase at Walmart or Target, when we were in need of a specific item, might tell the story of how desperate we were at one moment in history. That is all that it tells! It doesn't tell that we choose the piece for it's beauty or it's value. It tells that we needed an extra set of salt and pepper shakers for the additional table we sat when more family than expected called to say they were in town and we already had a full table for Thanksgiving.

"It is autobiographical if you do your own interiors and biographical if aided by an interior designer" is my favorite part of this article. This is the part I would highlight in yellow if I were reading it in a book. So why rant and rave about the other parts of the article? (Because I'm opinionated?)  This lone sentence inspires me. I'll be back...........................

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