Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Decor of Sanity

As a college freshman living in my parents' home, I turned my bedroom into a "Tahitian bungalow" complete with bamboo ceiling. My college dorm room was shared, but it was very clear where the boundary was. My roommate had mismatched bedding, pig shaped lights strung over the window, and mounds of books and paperwork strewn across her desk. I had an alphabetized book shelf at the foot of my Tommy Hilfiger bed and two paper lamps hanging over a tidy desk where even the pen holder matched my color scheme. I have moved literally 18 times since I graduated from high school in 2000, and yet even when all my belongings could fit into my Ford Focus, I always managed to squeeze some style in the back seat. My current must have item regardless of the move is a large mirror with the most amazing vintage gold frame, which has hung in a bathroom, over a dresser, and leaned against several bedroom walls.

My mother may not have taught me about makeup or dating, but she definitely instilled in me an appreciation for keeping a neat home, or usually in my case a space, that is always "guest ready." When I come home it isn't to a space that looks as chaotic and disconnected as my mind often feels. There is an order to things, both in life and in the home, and they are meant to reflect one another. While my mother and I have very different tastes in decor, I think we are both good at creating spaces that are functional and appealing.

This standard often causes extreme tension in my shared space. The only thing worse than coming home to your own mess is coming home to someone else's, be it shoes in the hallway, mail strewn across the kitchen counter, knickknacks on the coffee table, or pet hair caked on the couch pillows. I haven't decided yet if God insists on keeping me at a roommate necessary standard of living to break me of my OCD or if he's just gets a kick out of watching me have mini-meltdowns every time I find my toothbrush holder sitting at the wrong angle on the counter. Either way, I greatly anticipate someday entering a life season in which I can have a place, modest as it may be, where I can create a Zen untouched by less acute sensibilities. I dream of lazy overcast mornings curled up in a breakfast nook with a newspaper in hand, Elis Regina streaming on Pandora, and the delicate scent of freshly cut stargazers competing with that of the steam rising off my French press. I don't care much where you place that scene... In a San Francisco Victorian, in an Ann Arbor loft, in a Cape Town flat... As long as there's a good man strolling sleepily into the kitchen after me, and a genuine anticipation for the job I'll head to a short while later.

On a lighter note! I'll share with you some of my favorite places to score decor bargains! Of course my favorite items are ones I've accumulated through my travels, but there are countless places to find unique pieces locally while shopping on a minimal budget. When I'm in designer discounter stores like TJ Max, Marshall's, Ross, or Nordstrom Rack, I always keep an eye on the clearance racks where I have scored $1 bathroom counter accessories, $5 towel sets, and $20 bedding. Pass up those outrageously priced vintage drawer knobs at Anthropologie and find yourself an estate sale! As tacky as it may sound to some, garage sales are a fun way to find beautiful pieces for pennies. Of course, there is Ikea, where European inspired minimalism descends upon broke college kids and frugal self-decorators alike. I also recommend Z Gallerie for their affordable and trendy decor that carries enough variety to satisfy all tastes and avoids the stigma of having "that Ikea stuff."