‘Found’ objects not objet d’art in my house

  • Sarri Gilman / Herald Writer
  • Monday, March 29, 2004 9:00pm
  • Life

Have you noticed the home decorating makeover craze? From the looks of things, it’s move over Martha. The new home decorator is more likely to be a man. My favorite male decorator is Nate on Oprah — who wouldn’t want this guy in their living room? There’s Ty the wonder genius, the loveable "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," and on and on.

I am amazed at the impact male home decorators are having, not just on the beautiful homes they are up-doing, but on men!

The best example I can offer is my husband. When I met him, his decorating motif would be classified as "rocks and feathers." His home was filled with odd-looking things best left on the road where he found them.

The color scheme was "found it at the thrift store." None of his stuff could be turned into those sexy-chic pieces transformed before your very eyes on television. People sent this stuff to the thrift store for good reason. I didn’t try to hide my dismay as I drifted about his rooms assaulted by browns, oranges, gold and, of course, rocks and feathers and purple crystals. I think the crystals were intended to ward off something. I was warded off, that’s for sure.

Imagine my dismay when he brought boxloads and two suitcases filled with his decorative objects to our new home. I had the uncomfortable job of explaining that we didn’t need the rock and feather ware.

Perhaps if I were a male home decorator on television, I would have been more direct. They go through people’s homes and tell it like it is. No sweetness. No apologies. And everyone is thankful for it.

But when it comes from one spouse to the other, it’s a whole new song.

Perhaps I was too polite.

One weekend I was away on a trip and my husband surprised me with a mini makeover in our home. He didn’t win a professional makeover from Nate or Ty on television. This was a do-it-yourself job with kids helping with the painting.

You’ll never guess what color they painted three rooms, both walls and ceilings. I am not lying: It was the color at the bottom of swimming pools. Swimming pool blue.

I had to remove the kid gloves. There was no nice way around it. My face contorted and there was simply no way to disguise my response.

I realized I had to get tough. I drew a line in the sand. We reached a compromise: Don’t surprise me and I won’t surprise you. For six years my husband and I have been making over one room at a time. Lots of beautiful rooms have been painted by my husband. I choose the colors, but he has to like the colors. I choose the furniture, but he must like the furniture. It’s been pain-free. And things he finds on roads, have to stay on the roads.

At night we watch the makeovers on television and shout out our opinions like armchair quarterbacks.

Seeing the guys doing this on television seems to have inspired my husband.

He has an excellent eye for fashion. Whatever he lacks in home decorating, he has in clothing sense. He’s a natural at figuring out what looks best on me. I always take him shopping to get his opinions. My fashion sense is terrible. Left to my own devices, I buy clothes he calls "clown wear." He has inspired me to ask myself, "Could I wear this in a circus act?"

He has become the fashion guy. Clothes, yes. Home decorating, no.

At least that’s what I thought until yesterday when he came home and said he had gone by a friend’s house at lunch. His friend just bought a new home and they were looking at furniture. My husband was giving advice on furniture and colors. As nicely as I could I said, "What did you tell him honey?"

Sarri Gilman, a licensed therapist, has founded two local nonprofit organizations to support children and teens who have been homeless. She is a mother, wife and songwriter. Her column on living with purpose and meaning runs every other Tuesday. You can e-mail her at features@heraldnet.com.

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