Joe and I have very different styles. Or at least we used to. No. We still do. They've just grown a little closer together over the years. For example, I used to sleep under a feminine Waverly floral bedspread, had a vast collection of celestial themed knick-knacks and read novels while curled up in a white wicker chair. Joe used slumber away in a water bed with black satin sheets that he never changed, drowsing under posters of architecture and The Hunt for Red October, with a tall lamp that you could turn on and off by hissing at it. These things have disappeared in the last ten years. (Though I think those posters are still lurking in the basement waiting for some future man cave placement. I hate the expression man cave. Let's try den.) And together we've come to some middle ground. The middle ground of eclectic.
We aren't designers. We don't live in a magazine photo shoot. We have mail on our counters and dirty dishes in the sink and a couple of stains on the carpet. But that doesn't prevent us from wanting our house to be beautiful and comfortable and personal. We both care a great deal about how the things we decorate our home with look together and even about how the things we use in our home look. (Particularly Joe and particularly in the kitchen, but that's a whole other post.) Maybe this is shallow. But I don't think so. I used to think that everyone felt this way about their houses.
Turns out this is not true. There are many people who are just thrilled to have a roof over their heads or don't care if the curtains go with the color of the couch, or the whole hoarders issue, which fascinates and nauseates me a bit. I am not that person. These small things, like the photos or art on our walls or bright pillows on the bed, are actually really important to me. I gain a lot of peace and energy from our home, when it's clean and orderly, and a lot of frustration and stress when it's not. (Except for our messy office, which I've essentially abandoned and like to pretend is some kind of outbuilding that is not on my property.)
Our home is my favorite place to be in the world. I look around at all the things that I love, and each one seems to have a great memory or story attached. I love that feeling. They aren't just things, they are recollections, memories, bits of our lives scattered around on walls and shelves, reminding us of gorgeous vacations, lost family members, or raucous evenings with friends. But all these beloved things don't necessarily fit into one style. So eclectic simply works for us. Because nearly anything goes with eclectic. As long as we both agree to it.
That is the key. Unlike most men, Joe has opinions on decorating. I'm sure this would bother many wives, yet I love it. Joe has great taste and a good eye for color. He has the precision and attention to detail to hang an entire hallway full of photographs, or a whole mess of bookshelves. I'd just eyeball it. While he's got three levels, a stud finder and six nail choices. Joe would prefer a home filled with gray concrete and granite. Hard steel, industrial fixtures, high design furniture and the occasional pop of color, Patrick Bateman's apartment in American Psycho, swap out Huey Lewis for ELO, and Joe would be in heaven. But that doesn't work for us together. His sleek modern look has made my cozy, colorful, slightly kooky Pier 1 vibe more sophisticated. And my comfy vibrancy has warmed up his industrial cool. So vintage, brightly colored, modern, if we think it's cool, then somehow we make it work.
Our bedroom is the perfect place to start. With light gray walls and one dark red accent wall, it's my favorite room. The focal point of the room is our bed. Shouldn't it be, in any happy marriage? I love our bed. It's firm and has super soft sheets, Joe is in it, and my favorite piece of furniture is our headboard. In college, Joe studied industrial design, which included a furniture making class. He made this lovely headboard for me. It's a light birch veneer over a gently curving scrolled frame. When he originally designed it I wanted some kind of quote painted on it. I love words painted on walls and furniture, but I'm so glad he talked me out of it. It would have completely distracted from his careful design. I would have grown really tired of it. I still love our headboard after twelve years and I'll love it in another twelve.
In addition to a hell of a lot of red stuff and plenty of birch veneer furniture, we have so much reading material in our bedroom. If someone locked us in, we'd have decades worth of books, magazines and more books to keep us occupied. Is it wrong that that actually sounds rather appealing? Like a deserted bedroom island. As long as we have access to basic bread and water, and maybe some music, I think we could last for quite awhile all locked away.
Our basic furniture, other than the headboard, isn't particularly exciting. I think it's the accessories that make spicy. The photo above is of this awesome wooden carrier that I bought when I was traveling in the Ivory Coast during college. African women carry this on their heads, filled with wood or other supplies, when they walk home from the market or fields. I've just filled it with more magazines, since I rarely need to carry wood around on my head. I tried to buy this intricate woven chicken carrier basket when I there too, but my limited French and the basic confusion over why a white American lady would want to buy a chicken carrier caused a scene, and I gave up while about 35 old African men watched, pointed and laughed over my struggle. I settled for this wood carrier instead. Probably more practical than a portable chicken coop.
The painting up above was a wedding present from my father and one of my favorite pieces of art. It's vivid and messy and loose and the color is so strong that it vibrates on the wall. It's also huge. I can't wait until we have taller ceilings or a larger entryway where this piece can really dominate the space. And of course more books.
Now I've realized that this post is getting long, and quite possibly I'm boring people half to death with the knick knacks and art talk. So in the words of Inigo Montoya, let me sum up. Hipster giraffe wearing a beret and monocle bought from a young artist at a youth art show, more books, shiny red coral Italian hooks filled with jewelry, tiny pottery collection filled with more jewelry, one tiny footed dish glazed by me while painting dottery with Katrina and Bethany, handmade birch picture frame by Joe, Kofi Swank my "spirit spouse" from the Baule tribe (he is the one wearing short blue shorts and a tie,) antiqued jewelry display rack with a tiny bird perched on it (a sweet birthday gift from my mother,) and finally our super fancy lighting fixtures, the paper lanterns that we used to decorate at our wedding.