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Archive: Style at Home

May 15, 2009

I mentioned the window plastic and the million dollar views here. But for those who are just dieing for more,  here is the definitive guide to basement living with babies.

(Originally published November 2008) I do not have, nor do I covet, decorative pillows on my couch with fringes that complement the drapery tassels. But every now and then I stop as I pass through the living room and wonder how James’ Exersaucer, which complements nothing, became the ornamental centerpiece of our home.

Someone out there would likely do very well to create a line of children’s toys using seasonal hues and stylish motifs. “My goodness Brenda, Johnny’s Transformer collection really accents your Tiffany lampshades!”

I used to have a knack for home décor, before my priorities shifted more toward laundry. One summer, a friend and I decided to become personal decorators and make a killing. We had a total of one client whose budget was “I can’t afford this.” We put one coat of purple paint on her bedroom wall (which the landlord made her paint over), sewed some decorative purple pillows out of broad cloth from Wal*Mart, and rearranged her furniture. She paid us with gratitude and dinner.

We live in the basement of a 1970’s split level which, mildly put, retards our ability to create an aesthetically pleasing interior. If you live in such a split level, you will know that the windows were designed to recede from their frames over time. This means that in the winter we must use masking tape (several uneven layers) to attach slightly opaque plastic (with blue product information printed straight down the center) across all of the windows. In our bedroom, we even taped a tin foil emergency blanket over top of the plastic, which gives it a snug “bomb shelter” feel. Awhile ago, I tried to add a little whimsy to our kitchen by affixing cutlery to the cupboard door handles. The effect is basically a sum of its parts. And it’s really frustrating when the only clean spoons in the house are attached to the drawer, not in the drawer.

In any case, I’ve realized that even if we lived in a swanky downtown loft, the décor situation would probably remain bleak. The first child (and all subsequent children, I presume) tend to dictate one’s decorating priorities. Where a hanging plant might really add some botany to a room, you see that a jolly jumper will ultimately be much more practical. And where all of your framed pictures of family and friends might be nicely displayed, well, it’s just such a darn handy shelf for board books, diaper ointment, and the breast pump.

What it comes down to is that James has inadvertently become our personal decorator, which is fine because we can’t afford anyone else. I pay him with dinner.

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