Watched Genius of Design on TV. Sparked idea: which trumps – utility or aesthetics? It must be personal, to wit our bath towels. I will always satisfy my eye, so I hang the towels straight but damp; my husband is super practical, so he spreads them out, dry but messy.
I read, can't remember where, of a couple who had a house with a picture window looking out over a picturesque view. It was opposite the front door and she could feel her soul open as she walked into their home and saw the trees and hills. Until one day she came home eagerly, walked in to be affronted by a utilitarian coat cupboard where the window had been. “It was the obvious place to put it,” her husband explained. “So practical.”
And my cousin's wife, whose bedroom overlooked Windsor Castle, built a wall of cupboards right across the window. “To display my shoes.”
One designer had the theory that if you look at a person's house you see who they are; if you look at their car you see who they want to be. Very depressing – I immediately remembered the day we moved into our condo. We drove into the garage in our country-battered car, dripping mud from the dirt road, parked in our space, next to a gleaming white sports car, instantly lowering the tone. Perhaps they would pay us to live somewhere else.
But the appearance versus utility made me think more. My eye hates clutter. (Is this why i am a quick decision maker? Anything to clear the clutter in my head.). This doesn't make me tidy, unfortunately, just stressed. In fact, I get depressed by houses like hotel lobbies. How do they keep them like that? One time we visited a very tidy house and as we drove away afterwards, I said glumly, “Now I'll have to go home and clean!”
“A man couldn't be comfortable there,” replied my husband decisively.
“What does a man want?” I asked, curious.
“To be able to read newspapers and throw them on the floor.”
Now that I can provide. Just as my mother replied relieved, when selling her older home, and asked eagerly by the realtor, “Really old? With cobwebs?”
“Fancy washrooms, no. Cobwebs? Those, I CAN do”
I can't do pretty toilets either. British loos are spartan, usually cold, and filled with newspapers, Wellington boots and dog baskets.
If the home says who we are, what does a visitor read when entering our home, tripping over the cat, past a humming crock of roasted garlic to a sitting room piled with books – all being actively read, festooned with cords feeding iPad, iPod, kindle etc. All on hand for information, quotations, the food of our lives.
Now I think of it, if I cleared a space and applied polish, would I miraculously become smooth, groomed and picture perfect. One can dream!