Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Contest ...

This post caught my eye: Design Hipsterism? Why Do We Stop Liking What's Popular?

Everyone will have their thoughts on that question, of course. These are mine.

I call it "The Courtyard-by-Marriott-itization of America."

I used to travel for a job I used to have. The boss I used to have was a faithful Marriott stayer and so we all had to stay at Marriott properties. But somehow, that dictum always translated to stays at Courtyards by Marriott. Or should that be Courtyard by Marriotts?

In any event, the rooms were exactly the same.

Exactly. The. Same.

I presume some buyer in charge of "décor" for the chain found a black and white image of an old telephone and a black and white image of whatever the other one was that I can't even remember right now and said, "We'll take 20,000 of each."

As if work travel isn't boring enough, I was unable to distinguish what city I was in or what state I was in based on the interior of my hotel room. No regional flair. No shift in color palette. Nope. The only hint of my whereabouts could be ascertained by the area code on the bedside phone.

The notion of "The Courtyard-by-Marriott-itization of America" was borne out of watching shows about home staging on HGTV. Almost every room was painted greige, staged with espresso furniture, adorned with banal wall ornaments, and lit with a few stranded pillar candles.


Likewise, every – and I mean every – house-hunting show features couples who simply must have granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances.

Every time I hear that, I roll my eyes. Why, people? Why must you have granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances? Because your neighbors do? Because you've seen granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances on house-hunting shows exactly like the one you're taping now? Because somewhere along the line, marketing cast its evil spell and wormed its way into your brain and convinced you that granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances were some badge of status?


(No, I do not have granite countertops. Yes, I do have a stainless-steel fridge and a stainless-steel stove – which I bought because this house lacked those appliances when I moved in – but I have a black dishwasher and a black microwave. That's right, I have mismatched appliances. And worse yet, I feel absolutely no shame about it.)

Some people don't care to put a lot of thought into their environments. Some people are content to walk into a furniture store, see a completed room, and say, "That." And that's fine.

And some people are fond of wandering around Target and finding homegoods there. And that's fine, too.

But some people want to live in spaces that feel more collected and less mass-produced. I am one of those people. And once I start seeing something everywhere, yes, I will no longer want it. Classics, however, are another story. And so chevron fabric is woefully overplayed. But I still covet herringbone floors. Chevron fabric is trendy. Herringbone floors are classic. Iridescent glass backsplashes are trendy. Subway-tile backsplashes are classic.

I like the fact that I can stand in my living room and tell a story about every piece and not repeat myself. Not much, anyway. The chair I am sitting in came from Marshall Field's as did the lamp next to this chair, but what passes for a table (it's some kind of metal cabinet or pie safe or some such) came from an antique store near Indianapolis and the clock on it came from my mom (who bought it at Pier 1 and then got sick of it, as is often the case with pieces purchased at Pier 1) and the metal votive holder came from a shop that sold goods from artists in different parts of the world who support themselves with their crafts and the small brass covered box which is lidded and round came from a relative who was visiting from Yugoslavia and the vase came from some florist who made a delivery and the stones inside it came from the dollar store and the picture frame probably came from Kohl's.

Not everything has a fascinating story behind it but nor did I walk into one store, scoop everything up in my arms, plop it down on the counter, pay for it, and call it a day. My living room doesn't look like anyone else's living room. And I like that.

Mind you, there is still a lot I could do with the space. A bag of sky money would go a long way toward my giving the room a spruce. Not that I need a spruce. I am always very mindful of how much I have. But it's nice to reinvent from time to time.

Ubiquity breeds boredom, I suppose. The first time I saw the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster, I thought it was clever. But endless variations of it later, it's just "meh."

Also, I grew up in a home that didn't look like anyone else's. My mom has always had a knack for pulling together disparate pieces. She didn't buy furniture sets. Hell, I grew up in a home with a leather rhinoceros ottoman. Did you grow up in a home with a leather rhinoceros ottoman? I'm guessing not. I've never met another person who did.

Mom imbued me with a love of poking around antique stores and resale shops and appreciating things individually. And Angelo deserves a chunk of credit for nudging me to expand my style beyond its previous bounds. My home is more interesting because of him. And also because I own a few of his pieces and he designs really cool stuff.


Anonymous Dave said...

"Ubiquity breeds boredom" - so true.

Starbucks is the best example. And their coffee doesn't even taste like coffee. I ask so happy to see new, one-off coffee houses opening up in cities across the country. Any time I have a choice I take the road less traveled.

I grew up with a leather elephant! Red for some reason.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Ooh, red elephant! Nice!

And yes, I root for the one-off coffee houses, too. They're not so easy to come by, sadly.

6:53 PM  

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