Seeing familiar things with new eyes: interior redesign

It isn’t what you have but how you use it.

 When I think about interior redesign I always think of hair dressers and the story of the woman who goes into a shop carrying a picture of Audrey Hepburn, or Princess Di, or Jennifer Lawrence and tells the hair dresser “I want to look like that!” It doesn’t matter that the customer is 50-something and 90 pounds overweight with a sagging throat and the features of Witch Hazel.audrey hepburn 2

 There are actually two problems with the scenario.

 First, that customer will never look like Audrey, Di, or Jen…short of head-to-toe reconstructive surgery, enough liposuction to construct a second person, and turning the clock back 30 years.

 The second problem; why would she want to? Be a clone of someone else? Imagine if all the women in the world suddenly woke one morning looking like Jennifer Lawrence; we would be a vast herd of jennifers, indistinguishable from one another.

 No one is born perfect. Even Audrey Hepburn, an icon of beauty, grace, style, and class…had big feet. (Sorry Audrey, but she did.) She emphasized her best features so beautifully, that people rarely noticed her big feet. Attractive people aren’t born beautiful, they learn to make the most of what they have, emphasizing what’s good while minimizing what’s not so good. And everyone has at least some of what’s not so good. Even Audrey!

 Perhaps the beauty shop patron would have done better to ask “what style would best suit me? How can I be the most attractive me possible? Not a clone of Audrey, Di, or Jennifer. The best me I can be. What style would highlight my big eyes, high cheekbones, slender neck, beautiful smile, curly hair (pick one)? What style would minimize my crooked nose, thin lips, weak chin, frizzy hair (pick one)?

 Within this context I think about Bea Arthur, probably most famous for her role as Dorothy on the Golden Girls. Bea was not a classic beauty in the sense of Audrey, Di, or Jennifer. She was certainly not a size four; she was not svelte or particularly slender. She was a tall, broad-shouldered, aging woman with grey hair and a fleshy face. She bea arthur 2did not have classic or beautiful features. What she did have was a style that was uniquely her own. Whether or not you liked her style is beside the point. She would have looked silly dressed as Audrey, Di, or Jen, just as they would have looked silly dressed like her. She did not try to look like anyone else. She worked with what she had, highlighting her best features and disguising or downplaying her worst. The result was an attractive style that was uniquely her own.

 So why, when I think of redesign, do I think about the woman in the beauty shop?

 First because the concept of it isn’t what you have; it’s what you do with it, applies not just to individuals but also to homes. Expensive, beautiful furnishings do not guarantee or automatically make a “beautiful” room. Conversely, “beautiful” rooms have been created using inexpensive, second-hand-thrift. It isn’t what you have; it’s how you use it.

 The other reason: if you love minimalist design but have Early American furnishings it’s a bit like Witch Hazel wishing to look like Audrey Hepburn. It doesn’t mean you can’t create a beautiful room using the furnishings you have; it doesn’t even mean you can’t adapt or adopt components of a minimalistic style but if you want a full-blown minimalistic room your chances are probably as good as Witch Hazel morphing into Audrey.  Unless of course you can afford to completely replace your Early American furnishings. That’s creating a whole new room and that’s a whole other ball game. What redesign will do is help you to make your room as attractive as possible using your Early American furnishings. While most Early American furniture does not support a minimalistic style, it may support another style: country, cottage, beach, that’s more akin to your current taste. Or at the least it might be streamlined for a more simplistic style closer to the minimalism you crave.

 Redesign is looking at familiar things with new eyes. It is using what you already have. It is making the most of what you have. It is making the best of what you have.

 “Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”                                            Jack London


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