I am writing this while sitting on an office chair with a hole in it. It’s a Restoration Hardware dining chair that has been repurposed for my office, but it turns out that dining room chairs are perhaps not meant to be sat upon for 40 hours a week. Or else I sit in a particularly violent fashion. In any case, the seat ripped a few years ago. I solved this problem by putting a blanket on top of the hole. Someone else might have fixed this problem by recovering the chair. Or buying a new chair. I look at my office chair daily and think “hmm, that doesn’t look so good.” But I have not taken further action.
This behavioral pattern continues around the house. The stuffing is coming out of our living room sofa. I’d like nicer pillows and bedding and some art on the master bedroom wall. I want to redo my kitchen someday. I want to build a mantle over the fireplace in the living room. I want to actually get the screens on the windows in the master bedroom so I can sleep with the windows open sometimes and enjoy spring or fall breezes. I fantasize about giant planters with mums.
These are not new fantasies. These are also not fleeting fantasies; since I work from home, I am in my house all the time. Yet when it comes to my physical surroundings, I seem to have a very strong tendency to just make do.
I have been pondering why this is. The house is clean; I make sure that happens. It is not that I don’t value decoration. I subscribe to a handful of design magazines, and I love the idea of a fancy, decorated house. When we moved into this house 6 years ago I hired a real designer to choose furniture and such (that’s how I wound up with an elegant office chair; I’ve bought the Aeron types in the past and really don’t like them). But then we stopped before much accessorizing happened, and most of the projects we didn’t do then have continued to not be done now.
I could tell myself that “I don’t have time” but we all know that means “it’s not a priority.” This is undoubtedly true in my case. A friend with a demanding job and many children recently moved to a new house. It is gorgeously decorated. She chose the paint colors and accessories and such. There are no barriers to my doing this, but for me it is like speaking in another language. I have the ability to execute on things I care about. And yet I do not look at my bed, think I’d like fancier pillows, and actually get myself to a store to buy said pillows, or order said pillows online, or hire someone to do that.
Maybe it’s just that I’m cheap. In a more charitable vision of it, my mind is too focused on loftier things to even notice the flaws in this physical world (ha ha. Not really). I’m still pondering whether I should just accept this, or do something to change it. But the situation is kind of sad. The other morning, my husband pulled down a dish from the cupboard and noted that he’d gotten it secondhand from his brother-in-law’s mom, who was giving some stuff away when he was setting up his first apartment. He noted that this woman would be shocked to see that 25 years later he was still using her old stuff. I asked my husband if he was shocked that he’d married a woman who hadn’t insisted on getting rid of old castoff kitchen items. The answer, of course, is no — we’re well-suited for each other in this regard, though I’m not sure the dynamic is all that great if the goal is decor that I am thrilled to see.
Post script: Sometimes writing about things is good for processing them. I wrote this post two weeks ago, then decided I should just shut up and do something about these various house woes. I went to the Restoration Hardware website, and bought a replacement chair (the same style — I do like how it looks!). The shipping charges were ridiculous (it’s a flat rate, but I just wanted one chair!) It was delivered last week. That inspired me to order the correct size pillows for the decorative shams on my bed. My husband went to the hardware store and bought new trash cans too. We are moving up in the world!