We all possess objects that speak to us. When we lose a parent or loved one and we are allowed to have something that they once possessed, it can create a certain level of disharmony in an otherwise harmonious home. Let’s just say that your dad collected stuffed moose heads, and when he passed you got one. You take it home, put it on the living room wall, and your significant other really, really dislikes it. What usually happens in this scenario? Someone is forced to compromise. Decorating the domicile can be a tricky, slippery slope when both parties have strong likes and dislikes. I know this very well. Half the time it is me that strongly dislikes something.
Let’s take the dining room/kitchen table for example. Our kitchen/living room area is an "L" shaped open concept with cathedral ceiling over most of the space. Somewhere in that nether region between living room and kitchen is the table on which we dine. It is a thick, heavy, dark table with thick, heavy leaves and chairs to match. The edges of the table top look as if they were chiseled off the massive hunk of pine it was hewn from. A delicate piece it is not. It was made at the Townshend Furniture factory many, many years ago. It belonged to my fiancee’s grandfather. She loves it. I don’t. This table provides lots and lots of happy memories for her. I have warmed up to part of the chair construction, and I see it as the sets best feature. OK, to be honest I hate that part less than I hate the rest of it. I try not to show my revulsion for this highly objectionable "thing" in my house, but apparently I have failed in that endeavor. She knows I hate it, and I guess my silence spoke volumes. Well, it’s out now so I might as well express how I really feel.
We have chosen some of the furnishing in our home together. Everything in the master bedroom is pretty much a harmonious mixture of stuff we like ... even the ripped up gold barrel chair that she picked up beside the road somewhere outside of Amherst, Mass., on the way to visit her sister. The cats have taken over that thing, and it is truly disgusting. They both sharpen their claws on it and is it slowly being torn to shreds. That’s fine with me. last week I vacuumed about 47 pounds of cat hair from it. I was wearing a paint respirator at the time due to my cat allergy. As I labored away on the chair I couldn’t help but think how much I love this chair. The lines, the quality construction, all speak to my sense of aesthetics, except for the condition. The significant other loves it, too, but it is a hopelessly cat trashed vermin infested horror. Neither one of us would dare sit in it. Because our 20-year-old cat loves to sun herself in it, I bought a pressure sensitive electric heated pet pad for her and placed it in that chair. It, too, is trashed and covered in hair. Every so often we vacuum it and continue to live with it. It has successfully fused aesthetics with sentiment, at least in its basic form. When the cats pass on, we may have it rebuilt and reupholstered.
Back in June we redecorated a rather large alcove and together purchased an armoire. We both love the look and we are both happy with it. I can say the same for the white leather upholstered modern chair in the living room. We bought it together and we both like it. I suppose what I am trying to say is that we can agree on furnishings a lot of the time. When my mother passed away recently, I acquired her desk. It has a fold down surface for writing, and it has lots of interesting cubby holes inside. The wood is very nice, and my Dad redid it back in the early ‘90s. It makes certain sounds when it is opened that take me back to my childhood. It has been a constant in my life. I brought it home and put it in the living room. My fiancee has been sort of quiet about this piece, but it truly is lovely. Am I deluding myself into thinking that she likes it? Probably.
About the same time as I got the desk I also got my mom’s kitchen table. It is a beautiful blonde wood from the late 1940’s and I’ve always loved it. I’ve offered it to my daughter, but I think I’m going to renege on the deal because a miracle occurred. (I’ll offer to buy her a new kitchen table if she wants one) My significant other recently offered to give her Grandfather’s old table and chairs to one of her children. I cannot believe her magnanimous offer to allow the kitchen table of my childhood into our home. It matches our decor. it is light and airy looking as opposed to the dark, oppressive heaviness of the "other" table. It is all too good to be true. While aesthetics and sentiment have collided over this table in the past, I’m still waiting for the other leaf to drop with this new development. Wish me luck.
Arlo Mudgett’s Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.