Gone to the Dogs
There they are just exploding to get inside: Dundee, Kai and Siggy: Our extended four-legged family. The ones who teach us how to love unconditionally. Life changed in my house when we acquired these two large Labrador brothers about 4 1/2 years ago.(The small one belongs to our son and Dundee was just visiting when the photo was taken.) You wonder what dogs have to do with interior design? Quite a lot it turns out.
I used to be one anal housekeeper and totally fixated on keeping things looking in new condition. Any new piece of dirt caught my eye instantly and nothing was ever out of place for long. I love my "things" as most interior designer will admit. We are all possession junkies! Cannot resist a beautiful vase, a great woven basket or a piece of art. When I was young I didn't understand how or why my older designer friends would spend all their money on objects that they fell in love with...it seemed so unwise. But slowly the deep appreciation for the decorative arts got into my blood too and I began to keep some of the items that I supposedly bought for clients!
But then the boys came to live with us and all hell broke loose with regard to the condition of my house and yard. The baseboards are scraped and dirty, the walls are splattered with crud that comes out of their mouths when they shake, and the once off-white grout is a lovely chocolate brown now. (Well at least it matches Siggy's warm coat color.) Now we are into full blown shedding season so the vacuum cleaner just stays out all the time. I've given up! I literally have two huge black crates right in the dining room because it is one of the largest rooms in the house. My adult son felt the need to point that out to me recently. "Do you realize that you have dog crates in the dining room?" he passionately pointed out. Yup! I sure do.
What my good-looking boys have taught me is that while my environment is important to me and I still absolutely enjoy the visual treats all over my home, I value the warmth brought into our home by these nutty labs much more than I can imagine. I am willing to ignore the hair, the goop, the constant cleaning and the barking all because they just love us. Our yard is an entirely different issue: Nothing is left of my gorgeous garden or lawn. It is hideous looking at the moment.
Which makes me think of young families with little kids. You've just got to decorate in a kid-friendly way. Choose fabrics with texture and pattern so that you are not overly worried about spills. Check out some of the newer Green textiles that can be literally scrubbed. Select softer lines: A round coffee table vs. a sharp glass-top version. Avoid breakable accessories or put the delicate treasures up high or behind a locked glass door for safety. Favor flooring that will conceal dirt and traffic patterns. Bend. Flex. Be reasonable. Your little ones won't be tiny forever and there is plenty of time for a whole new look later on. There are safety issues to be sensitive to such as avoiding cords for window treatments or heavy lamps that might be pulled over onto a toddler.
But in the end your home already has the most gorgeous element possible: A precious young life! Relax and enjoy this time as a family. Life in the colored pages of decorating magazines is not real. We stage rooms for photography so remember as you lust after some specific "look" that it has been prepped for the camera. Real life is more sloppy for most people. Somewhere between being one of those embarrassed TV hoarders and a neat-freak you will find domestic happiness. May you eventually achieve your easy and balanced pace!