Useless (Photo credit: rutty)

Interior Design

Interior Design (Photo credit: chooyutshing)

Conclusion: We cannot be left to our own devices to choose how we want to decorate our homes. We are just not ‘on trend’ enough.

I have come to this conclusion due to the many, many home magazines that take it upon themselves to tell us what is on trend, and how we can incorporate this “trendiness” into our otherwise dismal and dull lives.  Sometimes they will even use the word trend itself beside a chosen item, just in case we are too thick to recognize the trend.  A trend by whatever definition you want to use can be a craze, a “look”, a fad, or a specific style considered in vogue. One thing all trends have in common is that they are fleeting.

I have never been trendy, preferring instead to use whatever innate skills I may have to “decorate” my home, but I must admit that these magazines do provide inspiration and creative vision when mine seems to be on vacation. And let’s face it—most of us are not born with perfect decorating skills. At times, we need to be directed ever so gently so we can hone and perfect whatever skills we may possess.

Some of the design books are *outré niche oriented. I came across one that was touted as a ‘must have’ called, “When is a chair not a chair”. To me the answer is obvious, but if someone wrote a whole book on the topic, then it must be a little deeper subject than I give it credit for.

As a writer I have had the occasion to meet a number of bone fide interior decorators and interior designers. They are really quite lovely people, but they speak a different language than most of us. And their eye for detail is, well, exhaustively in depth and meticulous, which is why, I suppose, they are hired. At one time I thought that hiring an interior designer or decorator was just a waste of money, but for those who can afford it (and I will count myself among them once I win the lottery, or write the Great Canadian novel and have it made into a movie of the week) they are worth their weight in gold. Seriously, these people know what they are talking about. And they are not just trendy, trying to force their vision on those who hire them. They listen to what their clients want and become in essence their “fairy godmother” and/or the male equivalent.

My advice to anyone wanting to change things up a bit, but do not have much money is to take what you have and place it in a different room (no, this does not mean putting your bathtub in the living room).  Alas, this is not an original idea of mine—I read it somewhere, but I think it is good counsel. Also, you can create little design vignettes throughout your house with books and pictures and loved objets d’art. I have little vignettes throughout my house that are intentional, and I have some that are unintentional. The unintentional vignettes take the form of stacks of files and papers and books in my office and folded but not put away laundry. Most people would not refer to these as vignettes, but “a mess” sounds so crass.

As with all things, being on trend is in the mind of the beholder. Though orange seems to be the on trend colour this year, if you are not a pumpkin fanatic as I am, you might find it hard to incorporate this colour into your decorating scheme. My advice: forget about it and just surround yourself with the things you like.

*outré means excessively in this context—just wanted you to think I was smart.


Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...

Cover via Amazon

 In part, this explains how I turn out a weekly column–it is a simple process–I type “On the Homefront”  (which coincidentally is the name of my newspaper column) at the top of  the page and nine times out of ten it works–I am off and running the weekly race to fill the column set aside on page 5 of the newspaper for me. That tenth time, well–sometime I will write about it……

Whenever I write a column I always type in the title “On The Homefront” first.  I don’t know exactly why, except that it seems to give me focus, so I can centre myself on the task at hand. I know that once I have committed to writing the column then that is what my agenda clears itself for. I wonder if this would work with the rest of my life.  I have a book that is titled, “Write It Down, Make It Happen”, (which I cannot find right now—must have lent it out) that prescribes this simple theory: if you write something down, you have in essence written it down in your psyche, and therefore you will (almost unwittingly) work towards that goal.

I know this works on a certain level, after all, when I write down the title of this column, then I usually make it happen. But having a deadline also works—specifically for a world-class procrastinator like me. I have reached a certain comfort level with my procrastination—having studied it ad nauseam I realize that I suffer from “perfection syndrome”, or “if I don’t understand it, how can I do it.” (Okay, I just hit something on my keyboard and now I am composing in italics—I don’t  know why and I cannot seem to get rid of it—pardon me for a few moments while I work on this.)

  Okay, the italics went away. Now back to my “perfection syndrome”—it is annoying, and I am trying to cure myself of the malady, which you think would be easy since there are so many facets of my life where imperfection is a fact.  I generally get over perfection syndrome when faced with a deadline that will not be moved, or when I realize there are just some things in which I will never reach perfection.  But the goal of perfection is kind of what you make it.  Defined as excellence, it is a good thing; defined as flawlessness, it is not.

When Gretchen Rubin embarked on her “happiness project”, she soon realized that her critics were being a bit mean and miserable when they called her book, “The Happiness Project” the result of a newly popular genre called “stunt journalism”.  I don’t think Gretchen’s main goal was perfection in trying to find the elements of happiness, but she was looking for a form of “excellence”.  She felt she was wasting her life and she wanted to do something about it. Her stunt was to go about her goal over a period of twelve months. Each month had several goals. Apparently this plays into the definition of “stunt journalism” which is defined as “doing something for a year” (and then writing about it.)

I am all for stunt journalism or anything that gives inspiration some get up and go. Inspiration is great, but it needs motivation. Gretchen stretched her project out over a year to give it a chance, and she broke it down thus: January-boost energy by going to sleep earlier and exercising better. This was also her toss, restore, and organize month. In February she wanted to quit nagging and give proofs of love (àpropos to the month of love). In March her overall goal was to “aim higher” and enjoy “now” (à la Eckhart Tolle).

In April, she decided to “lighten up” so she began to sing in the morning. May was her “play” month, where she resolved to find more fun, take time to be silly, and “go off the path” and be more adventurous.  She made time for her friends in June and “bought her happiness” in July by indulging in a modest splurge. She got ethereal in August by “contemplating the heavens”. No one can say the girl did not set some pretty lofty goals.

Her September goal was to write a novel and she did. Not an edited, ready to publish novel, but a novel nevertheless. October was her “pay attention” month, where she meditated and “stimulated her mind in new ways”. She did this by leaving post-it notes around her home. In her bathroom she posted this note: “Tender and light-hearted.” Ten months into the project and her husband, who needed a sense of humour to get through his wife’s “happiness project”, crossed off the words “tender and light-hearted”, and changed them to “light and flaky.”

Her goal in November was quite poetic: “keep a contented heart”. She did this by focusing on her attitude to “cultivate a light-hearted loving, and kind spirit.” Month twelve, December, was boot camp, where she tried to practice all her resolutions, all the time. She had created a Resolution Chart and she wanted all gold stars for that month. (We are all kids at heart).

Her stunt was to get happier. She wrote it down and made it happen. Good stunt.