Most people sooner or later, will get into a decorating rut. They put the same things in the same places, either because they like the arrangements or are just too intimidated by the thought of changing. I have been guilty in both cases. Sometimes the geometry of a space dictates what will fit or create a reasonably balanced setting. Other times, why change a pleasing setting? Small changes can occur with seasonal decorating, and that is change is enough for me, as long as everything else suits.
I always suggest to clients to live in a space for a time to see how the space will work out for them, practically, to see how their life patterns will develop. I am reminded of one of my earliest design instructors telling us how a New EnglandLandscape Architect allowed the pathways of a major University to be developed naturally, that is he allowed the students walking from class to class to set the pathways before setting them in stone. What evolved was a pleasing and sometimes meandering paths, while other pathways were direct— that’s human nature. It was just like seeing the paths blazed by the animals in the wild.
Moving forced me to consider what to save and what to let go— not an easy task, I admit. The next step was to decide what artwork, family pictures, and the like would go where. This decision-making took a bit longer than I expected, but then emptying boxes and finding space for what was most important took even longer. More editing!
As a family, we have grown attached to many things. Some, while not great pieces of art, are important to our family’s history. We all tried to remember where the five large Sunset posters had hung when our family was very young. Thank heavens for the stronger memory banks of our children. We sold a couple of the framed posters that our kids grew up with, more than 40 years ago, and we had several hanging in the home we had for 30 years. It was gratifying to know that two young couples furnishing their first home, coincidentally enough, the California Craftsman style home that was our first home, were happy to hear our family’s story about the posters. We are now down from five posters to two. The placement of one of them in the bathroom may seem odd, but why not the bathroom? It feels fresh and fun.
Another grouping of framed art, is a set of three sketches of my husband’s first trip to Europe, on a cycling tour. He turned 16 in a Paris cafe and met up with an artist from the San Fernando Valley— small world indeed. After storing the sketches in a drawer for many years, I had them framed; they have hung somewhere in our home ever since.
This house is much smaller than our previous one, so I have had to think of ways to get our favorite pieces to fit and make some sense of what might be considered a diverse collection.
The three Paris sketches have made the cut and landed in the TV room. Another important collection was of my father, as the “Fire-Fall” man in Yosemite National Park during his youth in the 1920s. The pictures were always a treasure to me, because of the stories he told of those daring times. Pictured in the background is Half Dome, and there are scenes of him in his cabin, under what had been the Glacier Point Hotel, high above the valley, where guests of the Ahwahnee Hotel would marvel at the fiery logs being tossed over the falls.
I decided that the scale and coloring of both these two diverse collections could work together, since the black and white sketches were framed in a similar wood and style as the Yosemite photographs, which are in a sepia tone. We have decided after much thought that this was a good choice, although not quickly made.
If you are moving, you certainly will be challenged with what to keep and where to place your things, but do not be hasty. Even if you are not moving, but are tired of your current displays, I say take them down, sort through what you have, keep only your very best and favorites and then find new places for them. You will find it is refreshing to have familiar things in new places.