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August 30, 2007

Hot, handyman and hello there, inner decorator!


I'm not even going to bother complaining since it is August and I do live in the Valley. I'm merely posting this for my friend back East who was complaining about it being 95 degrees or some such nonsense. Also: Hello, there Dallas Raines! That is a fine tan you have, weatherman!

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Saw this driving yesterday. This photo is not my usual top-quality traffic photography since -- gasp! -- traffic was actually moving. But Lord, I wished I'd known about that sort of service back when I was married. I am just saying is all.

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And in household news...

The old mini blinds in the kitchen had been up long before I moved in and no matter how much I Windexed them and wiped them down, they still had a film and grimy ick to them. The main window over the countertop also looks directly into the next-door-neighbor's window and onto their driveway. And God love 'em, but my neighbors spend an inordinate amount of time in the driveway doing I have no idea what. Who walks up and down the driveway all day? They don't even use their front door, I'm almost positive they spend the whole day walking up and down the driveway, opening and shutting their back gate. It's nutty!

The other window in the kitchen is part of the back door. It was also covered up by a mini-blind that was undeniably gross, sticky from its proximity to the stove. No matter how much I cleaned or scrubbed or soaked the blinds, the gunk remained. And every time I opened the back door, I scraped my hand on the poorly-placed lower blind hardware. OUCH.

So I removed the blinds from both windows and scrubbed each window and windowsill clean (hot soapy water and tea tree oil with a scrub brush. Probably should have done this BEFORE cleaning the countertops and floors. Whoopsy.)

Then I worked the MAGIC. The magic of window film!

Decorative window film is something I have been looking for for ages. One weekend I was at Home Depot and there it was ... a whole display of these amazing colored and printed vinyl sheets that you cut to fit any glass surface. They use no adhesives so the designs are 100% removable and temporary -- perfect for a renter like me. Each roll of art film is $19.95 and will cover an average-sized window. It was a little more expensive than buying new mini-blinds, but well worth it.

The back door before and after:

Artscapes Decorative Window Film in "Bamboo" ... also, this picture doesn not truly convey the nastiness of the window blind but trust me it was gross.

Here's the kitchen window before, during and after (OK, I got excited and forgot to take a total "before" pic, so it has one pane of art film):



Artscapes Decorative Window Film in "Wisteria"

It took me about half an hour to clean the windows and measure and cut the vinyl film to size and another 20 minutes to apply everything just so. I love it!

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Right after I applied the artscapes film to my kitchen windows, I caught an episode of some home improvement show on HGTV where the designer hated this kind of window treatment. I got up off the sofa and walked into the kitchen and evaluated my windows ... nope. I still loved them no matter what some designer on HGTV said.

Being decidedly single for the first time in my life is a new, interesting place. Like most girls growing up in the South in the 1970s and 80s, I took my style cues from my friends, my family, and later from MTV, watching my favorite videos over and over to scrutinize whatever my idol-of-the-moment was wearing. I always had my own little sense of personal flair (see: side-part mohawk) but when it came to decorating I didn't have a big say in things until I moved out on my own and by then I was either looking for a guy, looking to be pleasing to a guy, or settling down with a guy.

It seems that all my window dressing was something done to achieve an effect, to create a nest or project an image ... all meant to please another person.

Realizing things like this always makes me a little ashamed of myself. What woman living free in the United States of America in this day and age builds her home around a man? Any man? But that was the fact, and since I've been un-hitched I've slowly unfolded into my own style which is, as it turns out, nothing at all like what I thought it was!

I tried to make a list of all my little personal design epochs, the "home interior" version. My first design style was clearly Trailer Park Church Box Thrift Shop. No questions there. My teenage design style was I LOVE PRINCE. And U2. And Madonna. And "...the 80s called, they want their Debbie Gibson back." Later, my room was full of Marilyn Monroe posters and pictures of my best friends and lovey-dovey framed photos of my boyfriend along with a few dried prom corsages.

College was my favorite decorating period because it was so simple. I was just happy to wear my hippieass broomstick skirts and patchouli (OH GOD) and decorate with found objects and fellow art students' paintings. But it was a sweet time, I loved my little apartment in college. We burned a lot of incense.

When I moved to Los Angeles I had enough stuff to fill the trunk of my OH-SO-COOL Volkswagon Fox, and ya'll that is not much stuff. My decorating style that first year was "I cannot afford Los Angeles, I need a cigarette." It didn't help that my first apartment out here was so tiny you could make dinner while showering and answer the front door all at the same time.

When I got married the accumulation began in earnest. I liked our first place a lot, the little apartment where we lived with just Roy and Soba for a few years. It was nice and the clutter was at a minimum. I began to buy things I thought would please him, make him happy. Or maybe I always did that, took on the fashion and decorating style of whoever influenced me the most at the time. (I have a girlfriend who does this with music. One day she told me in a panic that she did not actually know what kind of music SHE liked. She'd always just listened to the musical choices of whatever boyfriend she had at the time. I hope I was kind to her when she confessed this to me, because I was in a similar panic the night I started at my Burke table for two hours wondering if it was actually my style or if I just bought it because it completed some picture of us as a couple.)

The last piece of mid-century modern furniture I bought was my sofa, and I bought it long after Mr. X moved out. It is the one single piece of furniture I love more than any other and I didn't buy it for its vintage coolness, I just bought it because I fell in love with it. It's a huge, long Vladmir Kagen style bent-leg sofa reupholstered in smooth cappucino brown ultrasuede. I love that sofa. It's warm and comfortable and inviting and that's the style I like. It was a start, anyway.

The decluttering process made me take an even more critical look at the junk I'd amassed. Did I love that vase or did I just buy it because it was on sale/was a name brand/fit the "look" I was trying to project? And who the hell tries to project an image at my age? At any age? Shouldn't home be your most real, most happy and comfortable space? Who has to be impressed with your house? After all, it's supposed to be both a reflection of your truest likes and a service to your most basic needs for shelter and comfort and happiness. Can those things be achieved by shopping to please someone else? Who is this someone else, anyway? And why have THEY been driving the car of MY life?

And that's kind of how I've happened upon what appears to be my own personal home design style, modern-hippie-Moroccan avec cat-hair ... with less clutter than I thought ever imaginable. (And I love my dorky windows with their faux artiness.) Maybe it's strange to be in your mid-thirties and only just now figuring out what your personal design style is. I don't know, I'm not sure I care. I'm just happy I'm figuring it out, whatever it is.

Posted by laurie at August 30, 2007 6:55 AM