November 05, 2013
They're called "aspirational" photos, the beautiful spreads you see in magazines and in design books. No worries about function, the images are all about form: perfect proportion, perfect balance, perfect harmony. And it works. One look at those immaculate spaces and I set about moving furniture and shifting accessories in the belief that I'm just a step away from the design equivalent of karmic balance. Aspirational photos don't feature couches with sticky handprints. There are no school backpacks in the corners, no "to do" piles on the desks. The imagined occupants float through those spaces like ethereal spirits, leaving no discernible trace. Ethereal spirits don't need Kleenex boxes and garbage cans in every room, cluttering up the Fung Shui.
Being firmly Earth-bound, I settle for perfect little niches. One of my favorites is the French armoire. Ours were acquired when we moved to England and discovered that bedrooms there don't tend to have closets. When we returned to North America, the land of walk-in closets bigger than your grandmother's house, our newly redundant armoires ended up in hallways, ripe for creating my own aspirational vignette.
For some people, organizing is a decorative art. I've been inspired by lovely bathroom armoires where immaculately white, rolled towels line up like little angels conferring a blessing. Myriad cosmetics in disparate sizes and jarring colors have been replaced by clean glass jars with serene labels. Other armoires house linens that are stacked in labelled, color coordinated piles tied with ribbon. The days of unfolding every fitted sheet to see which bed it belongs to would be a distant memory. Clutter and chaos have been replaced with soothing order.
Like the ads that feature beautiful women standing next to a car, there is an illogical connection between product and promise. On some level, I know that real families don't live that way but I happily suspend disbelief and begin stacking the sheets and throws with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. Who knows, this Utopian order might even last. I'm not entirely sure that anyone else in the family even knows where clean linen is kept...
photo from Maple and Magnolia http://mapleandmagnolia.zippykidcdn.com
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