This may be hard for you to hear. Believe me, it’s hard for me to write.
Fair warning: any images you may have had of bossy color as the invincible, all-knowing superheroine of interior design-slash-decoration may be dashed.
You already know that I’ve struggled with the living room wall color color since before we moved in. We’ve all learned that the paint color should always come last…
But as a normal human being moving into a new house, I felt the same pressure everyone else does to choose colors and get paint ON THE WALLS before moving in, so our tiny babies (and we) wouldn’t have to live through the fumes and the dust associated with painting. (I know: dust? But yes: that spackling and sanding before you paint creates dust. Microscopic, gritty dust.)
Suffice it to say that I believe now more than ever that there are no shortcuts when it comes to choosing the paint last. It simply has to be that way. Choose paint earlier, and you’ll pay to repaint. Again, and again…
But this post is about window treatments, not wall colors. Let’s focus.
Here’s the living room when we were considering buying the house:
Changing circumstances were a big factor, Gentle Readers. To wit:
1. The sofa finally HAD TO GO. I woke up one day and simply couldn’t take it anymore. The lowness, the shredded-ness, the smell…all that, and the empowering realization that “bulk trash” is a verb. As in, “I bulk trashed our sofa.” (Similar to, “I Craig’s Listed our cat.” Oh, wait…that’s another story.)
2. Those leather and teak Swedish safari chairs, cool as they may be, are not comfortable conversation chairs. You sliiiide back, and it’s hard to lean forward and maintain eye contact with another person.
3. The cats and the Flokati rug…not a good combo after all. I’ll leave it at that. (Nothing a few cycles in an industrial washing machine and a box of Arm & Hammer couldn’t solve, but at the moment the transgressions were discovered, I couldn’t think clearly enough to see solutions. All I could do was throw away the rug pad and stuff the Flokati into a lawn & leaf bag and hurl it into a dark corner of the basement, where it remained for several months.)
All this, and the gnawing feeling that as lovely as this room finally became, it just wasn’t me. Overnight, we went from a perfectly lovely, functional living room to tragic emptiness.
When I finally picked myself up off the (newly rug-free) floor to begin anew, one thing was clear. I could not – WOULD not – try to work with the green damask drapes again. I still loved the fabric, but I simply could not make those drapes work in this room.
After that, it took about 15 seconds to decide to cut the drapes down and install them in my office, where I love them.
Ok, fine. But what to do about the enormous living room window? You’ll recall that the former owners had nothing on it at all, which worked for them. But we have fewer pieces of furniture and art…the window looked naked.
Then I remembered: the drapes from the spring Design House at the Washington Design Center. I still had those! The fabric on the Design House walls was largely unsalvageable, but there was no reason the drapes couldn’t live to fight another day…
But guess what? That stripe could be replaced. All it took was one highly motivated window treatment fabricator (who was almost as sick of hearing about my living room as my husband was) and a few yards of fabric from Haute, a high-end overstock fabric place in the far reaches of Virginia.
I’d also decided to cut down the hardware and do a traditional drapery installation rather than the theatrical wall-to-wall setup we’d had before. (This decision was driven in part by the size of the Design House drapes – can always make them smaller; can’t go larger – but in truth, I was sick of the wall-to-wall drama.)
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single drape – isn’t that what they say? Stay tuned to see what other mountains I make out of molehills in my quest for the perfect living room.
Designer, heal thyself.