In Praise of Folding Towels...
A couple of years ago our home was on a local house tour, necessitating a slew of little (and not so little) house projects…
While overall it was a positive experience (we met lots of amazing people in our community + the tour raised money for our neighborhood high school’s scholarship fund), I’m not going to lie; it was stressful. There were some tears; there was bickering and even an injury. (I’m not sure that I ever wrote about it here, as at that time the blog was my “safe place” from all the household chaos, but in the process of one of the projects -- replacing the corian top on our little kitchen island with a giant butcher block -- Bryan ruptured a disc in his back and nearly severed a nerve, resulting in surgery and a long recovery period just a few weeks before the tour.)
So yes, it was pretty stressful…
There was also the sense, with all those projects and that giant to-do list looming, that we were in a perpetual state of “college”… You know that feeling that no matter how caught up you are on reading or studying there’s always more do to? Week-ends became non-existent, down-time a thing of the past. And truth be told, this state really wasn’t so far from how we had begun operating normally. I’d fallen headlong into that trap of the need for constant improvement.
So once we were past the tour, I decided we had to stop the madness. No more painting, no more decorating and buying and improving. We needed an indefinite pause… We (or more realistically I) needed to be ok with things as they were, and my family (or more realistically Bryan) needed an extended summer vacation (to continue the school analogy.) No projects in the queue, no improvements on the horizon, just “maintenance-mode.”
Since then we’ve enjoyed just “living” in our house…big projects these days involve folding several loads of towels (it's highly rewarding), buying new throw pillows for Millie's bed, watering the tomato plants or running the vacuum over the rugs. It’s nice.
And when we’re (I’m) in this mode (which isn’t often), and not unlike my response to the spending hiatus, I tend to focus on making the small things better… say lining the kitchen drawers with cork or moving a few pieces of art around. When we’re in this mode, I’m also thinking harder about how I want our house to “feel” (I love the way designers Roman and Williams think about home in this video), the vibe I want it to exude (mellow, cozy), how I want it to smell (right now it’s a combination of hippie incense and a Diptyque Baies candle) and the music we play (Avi Buffalo is on heavy rotation.)
When I'm in this mode, I also think a lot harder about the things I might buy for the house. I tend to stock up on basics -- in January it was new white towels (as we hadn’t replaced ours for 10(!) years) and just a few weeks ago I got a bunch of new perfectly, fantastically thin Marta glasses. I also keep a dream list, so that when we do have the opportunity to make an investment in our home, I have ideas at the ready, from the big wishes (an Allison V. Smith photograph of Marfa, Cherner barstools, that lamp from the St. Cecilia) to the more attainable ones (a tee pee for the girlies, more of Jonathan Cross’ pottery.)
I’m not sure how long all of this will last, as I tend to get itchy for a little unruliness (or at least for new paint and the chance to wallpaper another room), but for now I’m rolling with it.
Labels: thinking of home