One of the worst parts of my job as an interior designer in Westchester is to be the dream killer. Sometimes this happens when my client’s tastes exceed their budget, sometimes it’s the long lead times of the interior design project or the shock of shipping and handling fees, and sometimes it’s simply because what they want is impossible or doesn’t exist. I am here to tell you with 100% certainty that there is ALWAYS a tradeoff, and in the end, nothing is perfect.
Is there anything better than a interior design client who is a quick-study, has a good eye, and understands what a realistic budget looks like? Yes - the shiny red baller. The shiny red baller is someone who possesses all of these qualities but also brings to the table the ability to see beauty everywhere they look. When the worst sin is that your client throws too many beautiful ideas over the fence and it’s making it tough to choose, you’ve found a shiny red baller.
There’s really nothing worse than going through the time, trouble and expense of renovating or redecorating your home and then seeing your new things start to get dirty, come undone or lose their luster. Sometimes it’s just the living of life that does it, sometimes it’s the presence of young children as an accelerant, and sometimes it’s an ill-informed housekeeper. No matter the source, we all have a natural instinct to want to preserve our new things and protect them from ruin. This is where I pay homage to the old adage – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
My husband and I recently went for a walk on a trail that runs through one of the wealthier neighborhoods in our Westchester county area and we couldn’t help but notice the scary hugeness of some of the houses. While I don’t begrudge anyone a big house, even if it is on the super size side, the weird thing was that most of these already enormous homes had new and glaringly bad additions. We couldn’t help but wonder what would warrant such a bizarre expansion but I’m sad to say that we came up short. It's obvious that we're just living in a time of more bigger.
A fellow interior decorator put it best when she said, “No room is complete without art. It is absolutely essential – even the best rooms fall flat without it.” I couldn’t have said it better and have actually altered my process to start interior design projects with a discussion about art because it’s honestly that important. Art also has the added pleasure of being extremely subjective, painfully expensive, and it takes a REALLY long time to land. In other words, my beautiful yet difficult, uncontrollable, seemingly-endless labor of love. Multiply this by every project I work on and you are now in my nightmare.
Human beings are just not wired for change. It’s that simple. No matter how much we think we want it and are ready to take the plunge, the sweaty-palmed hand wringing over decisions large and small betrays our human need to avoid fear and uncertainty at any cost. I like to think of it as that primal instinct that has us running for the safety of our cave to curl up with our wubby blanket.
Chairs are one of those furniture items that always cost WAY more than you were thinking. I remember when my husband and I first moved in together and were struggling to furnish our apartment. Every chair we looked at was expensive and even the cheapest ones, when you multiplied them by 6, were out of our reach. So I got creative. I found a restaurant supply store on the Bowery where we scored eight old banquet chairs for $15 each and I stripped, stained, waxed and reupholstered them. This was my first foray into the real world of furniture redesign pain and suffering.
I’m a knitter. I haven’t always been a knitter. It’s something I only recently learned to do when I was wandering in the career desert looking for my purpose. All of my self-help books said that I should follow any path that seemed interesting or made me curious, and being a crafty sort of girl I had to admit that knitting seemed like something that would be creative, fun, and cool.
Alignment, balance, proportion, harmony, call it what you will, it all has to do with a level of “rightness” that we, as humans, can somehow feel and recognize. One of my favorite examples of this is Leonardo DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man. Da Vinci basically used a now-famous drawing to show how the proportions of the human form have informed classical architecture for centuries and that the greatest buildings in history took their measurements from the size and scale of the human body. This would explain why we feel most comfortable in rooms that echo these perfect proportions. To me, it’s just our falling in line with nature and its love of alignment.
There are a few people in my life who I consider to be the poster children for thoughtfulness. These are people who regularly amaze and shame me in their ability to press pause in their incredibly busy lives to do something special for someone they care about. The funny thing is that these are also some of the busiest people I know and yet, they put their money where their mouth is –they make the time.