By Marty Halverson
Last year at this time I was singing a new tune. I planned to change personas when I moved to Daybreak. Instead of being a reclusive writer I’d be a community organizer. I’d embrace my full-bodied look and wear leopard driving gloves with huge glitzy bracelets; my ever-present bandana sweatband would become my signature roaring-twenties headpiece.
The basis for this updated personality was a new house. My decorating style would make a clean, classic statement ala Pottery Barn. Blue, white and red would be updated to blue, white and yellow–fresh, unadorned cream colored walls would soothe and calm my frenzied friends. A neighbor once told me, “Marty, your house makes me dizzy.” My new interiors would put her to sleep like a lullaby.
I’ve discovered it’s hard to trump 63 years. And 43 of those years I’ve been married to a collector who loves color and pattern as much as I do. Geometric straw balls placed strategically on bookshelves are for people who don’t have 23 boxes of books! Elegant framed swatches of Marimekko fabric are for folks who don’t collect coats from the Tyrol. Sad to say, the new persona died in the move. The old persona is sitting at her computer, wearing a bandana, surrounded by a patchwork of dizzying hues. The house is absolutely new, but we feel totally at home.
Our bookcases fit perfectly in a little nook by the entry.
We showcased the books we’ve written, plus collections of books that reflect our interests.
The suitcases on top are decorated with travel labels of places we’ve been.
IKEA magazine files on the bottom shelves hold projects in progress.
Someone once said, “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” Sing your own song! Many designer shows encourage decorating for an eventual buyer. They have rules for color choices, art groupings, and furniture placement. According to these experts, too much personal stuff detracts from the neutral wall space, and the universally featureless artwork the home-stagers promote. Ridiculous!
Our townhouse in Garden Park is just over 1600 square feet.
It has two bedrooms and a loft, which we converted into Dee’s office.
Half of the Living Room is living room, and the other half is my office,
with a long dining table for a layout table.
When company comes, I clear off the writing gear and pass the potatoes!
This is what my office looks like from the staircase looking down.
I use a collection of pewter pieces on an IKEA lazy susan to hold elastics, paper clips, pencils, etc.
(Handy for writing with grandkids coloring on the other side,
and easy to relocate at the dinner bell.)
Here’s how the two spaces work together.
(From the kitchen . . .
. . . from the entry.)
A home should be a reflection of those who live there. Where else can you showcase your personality, interests and accomplishments better than your home? If kids are part of the decor, their fingerprints should be all over (both literally and figuratively.) School pictures in the bedroom (hang them on a clothesline with tiny clothespins) birthday invitations on the fridge (create a section for each kid to display their stuff and let them decide what to take down when something new comes in the mail) and towels hanging low in the bathroom (give everyone their own color and their own hook at a reachable level and they might not land on the floor!)
I love to troll decorating magazines and websites, and pinterest is a fun place to visit, but if an idea appears too often I run the other way. Ideas are for inspiration, not to replace creativity. I’m wary of trends. If somebody tells you green appliances will spice up your kitchen, decide if guacamole is the look you love before buying the whole avocado. (I speak from experience.) If a trend sings to you, you’ll still love it when it’s out of style in five years, but if you choose it because it’s all the rage, you’ll be singing “It’s not easy being green” long before the avocado turns brown.
Letters to and from our family while we lived a year in England
captured our experiences. Here they are displayed on a staircase wall,
available for reading and remembering.
The ambiance of your home is the most important element: the feel, the gemutlichkeit, the atmosphere. Decide which part of your personality to emphasize (elegant, sophisticated, casual, comfortable, colorful, artistic) and look through your drawers for stuff that tells that story. Pieces that represent your talents, interests, memories or heritage can be displayed in unique ways to prompt conversations or recharge your batteries.
Dee’s inspiration board is a collage of former projects,
and projects to come. The pictures tell his stories,
which he happily shares with clients and grandkids.
Creativity is the best part of home-making, from my point of view. I love taking an idea and tweaking it with a few grace notes of my own. I’ve fallen flat with a few looks, but some are pretty sharp.
Garden Park homes sing different tunes. There are large single family homes with full basements, townhouses, condos, patio homes featuring main floor living, all in a variety of harmonious styles. We’ve visited several houses with our same floor plan—they look different on the outside and also on the inside. The addition of a fireplace or an entertainment center, art work, fabulous moldings and fun colors give homes their own unique personality, a reflection of the folks who live there.
(Garden Park is a great place to sing your own song!)