Home Decorating

A few months ago, New York Magazine quoted award winning architect and designer Gaetano Pesce as saying “An apartment is a portrait of a person … “

About two weeks ago I blogged about my studio and commented that the studios of famous artists were as unique as the artists themselves.

A couple of days ago I came across a Hyperallergic post by John Yau about a gallery show for Brandi Twilley: The Living Room at Sargent’s Daughters. The show consists of 10 paintings, all measuring 32 x 56 inches, depicting the increasingly derelict living room of the artist’s childhood.

Since then I’ve been hopping around the internet reading about the (pop) psychology of home decor (some examples are here and there) and thinking about the living spaces I have dwelled in as well as the rooms I’ve visited.

Personally, I like art on the walls, books on the shelves, and breakable crap wrapped in bubble wrap and stored out of sight. I am fairly tolerant of a wide variety of wall paint colors but typically dislike paneling. I prefer modern couches and chairs and shaker-style tables. But as one of the psychology articles mentions there can be issues once you start cohabiting and as an adult I have had to concede some points and compromise here and there. I discovered what a hurricane lamp was at age 29. Develop my psychological profile as you see fit.

When visiting other people’s homes I don’t look in cupboards or medicine cabinets (that’s another thing that happened at age 29 – I realized that other people actually did root around in cabinets – it was a very mind expanding year) or even ask to use the restroom unless I actually have to use the facilities. I generally take a quick glance at the art, which is usually a family photo wall, but then I move to where I can see the book shelves and while pretending to not study the titles I try to figure out what kinds of books they read. I’m not real judgy about what is there although it does bother me when there are NO books. But I do think you can learn things about people from the items they surround themselves with as well as how they arrange and display their belongings.

One of my grandmother’s neighbors had an ornately decorated living room that was always immaculately clean because she cleaned the whole house – everyday. It had an unnerving similarity to the historical room displays at museums that feature Chippendale furniture and Faberge eggs. My great uncle’s house had all this retro 60’s decor that I thought was kind of cool as a kid in the 1970’s and which people now would shell out big bucks to own. It’s not cool though; in retrospect, it’s pretty sad. The living room looked like that because he never redecorated after my aunt was diagnosed with cancer and died. All the things on the wall and the furniture had been picked out together (or she chose them) back when they had been new homeowners and parents. I went into one home where the only photograph on a bookshelf was of the dad completely naked and striking a pose in the woods. Surely, that says something about him specifically and the family in general. On a side note they had a granny square afghan blanket that looked almost exactly like the one my mom owned.

Makes you really wonder what that Felix the Cat clock says about you, eh?