Monday, May 13, 2013
The Hidden Art of Homemaking, chapter 5: Interior Decorating and The Friendly Giant
I learned several things from watching this show.
1) Many of our houses contain several-times-over-enough stuff already to be beautiful, functional, and express our dreams, values, and individuality. At church we are watching a DVD series with Dallas Willard, and in yesterday's session he stated that humans are "treasuring creatures." Our "things" are important to us; they give us identity; they give us comfort. As Edith Schaeffer says, they also give us continuity when housing has to change or life gets difficult. It's not unnatural to want to have treasured possessions, cherished things. Sometimes they remind us of people we love, or places we've been, or special times.
What Edith Schaeffer didn't deal with so much, around 1970, was the problem of Too Much. She didn't talk much about shopping addiction, hoarding, or just getting stuck with a load of somebody else's possessions. The issue of creative homemaking for us now is often cutting down, cleaning out, detaching ourselves from enough of the "stuff" so that we can cherish the most meaningful, most memorable, most beautiful. Charlotte Mason talks about using our will to make choices, rather than just accepting whatever default options present themselves; in making our homes more homelike, that would include making conscious choices about the things you want in a room, and what you don't want.
2) If you're letting it get dirty, piled over with junk, even mouse-inhabited (like one Clean Sweep family's "heirloom clock"), then maybe you don't really care about it.
2b) Honesty time: abandoned projects and hobbies, clothes that don't fit, mousey clocks, big buying mistakes--let them go.
3) If you do care about something, then use your newly-cleared-out space to use or display it. On one episode, the Clean Sweep decorator framed some fabric and glued on treasured but hidden-in-a-box dried rosebuds. As I recall, the decorators also found ways to display Scout memorabilia (after deciding that it WAS really important to the owner), and odd pieces of inherited furniture (ditto). That doesn't mean that you have to turn EVERY dried flower into art, or that EVERY ex-Scout should have his/her badges on display (or should even keep them). That's where individuality happens.
3b) I don't know if this came up on Clean Sweep, but sometimes, especially with children, "treasures" that were once loved can be outgrown. A good clue is if the dust on the model horses is now an inch thick.
4) At least on Clean Sweep, a good carpenter seems to solve a thousand problems. Once the clutter is out of the house, the re-do usually follows two different streams: the decorator works with colour and the look of the whole thing, and the organizer usually gets the show's carpenter to build some kind of a wall unit in a family room or dining room, or a work island in a workshop, or a neat loft bed with storage. Sometimes it's just shelves in a closet, or extending a too-small desk. This is not to say that all storage problems need to be tackled with a router; only that sometimes the piles get piled because there is no good place to put things, even important things. Backpacks get dumped if there are no pegs to hang them on.
Again, even good shelving doesn't solve the problem if (as they say on the show) you're trying to cram twenty-four feet of books into twelve feet of space. But it does look better than stuff every which way.
5) The last thing I learned on the show, and on other similar programs: that little bits of comfort are important. Not having grown up in houses with huge bedrooms (and not living in one now either), the idea of having a "sitting area" in a master bedroom, or in the corner of some other room such as an office, is one idea that's not intuitive for me. When I was growing up, we just sat on the couch. But the de-cluttering and re-do shows do this all the time, and it's not that complicated: usually a chair, a light, a little table, a pillow or throw, maybe a bookshelf nearby or a basket of things to read or write in. If space allows, maybe a coffee table and another chair for a friend. Just like The Friendly Giant. (photos here)
What Can We Do? Crafting a Home (Chapter 5)
Treasured Possessions (Chapter 5)
Homemaking thoughts, Home-making blogs (Chapter 5)
Linked from Hidden Art of Homemaking linky for Chapter 5 at Ordo Amoris. (Link Fixed!)