This week, I finally made it to my semi-annual appointment for a dental cleaning (Can it still be called “semi annual” when you end up cancelling three times and are therefore seven months late for a once-every-six-months event?). I love my dental cleanings because there is no risk of the dreaded needle and because I can count on about half an hour of waiting room time. As a working mother, this is like a mini-holiday – child-free, husband-free, client-free, and surrounded by magazines. So lovely!
In keeping with my mini-holiday fantasy, I refused to read anything that included health and fitness advice, tips on cooking/cleaning/organizing the home, or pictures of skinny, young models sporting clothing I cannot afford. This left me with a stack of home decorating magazines, or as I like to call them, “pornography for the heavily mortgaged”.
Inside the glossy covers, every room was freshly painted, perfectly lit, and usually sans people (because nothing spoils the visuals of a good designer makeover worse than an ill-coordinating husband hunkered down amid the toss cushions, pointing a remote at the spot on the wall where there used to be a television). For the first few minutes, I was completely enthralled, thoughts travelling to an imaginary place where I have enough money to replace my flooring with Rainforest friendly bamboo and enough time to make my own bed frame from reclaimed barn boards. But as I flipped through more and more pages, the rooms started to become like Nicole Kidman’s face – clean and beautiful, but also stark, strange and somewhat unsettling.
I became acutely aware of the mirrored surface to wall ratio in those beautiful bathrooms… so many glass shower doors and all of them across from giant mirrors. Is this manageable in my world? Do I really want to start every morning glaring at my own full frontal nudity? Who is rolling all those towels and strategically placing them in wicker baskets? Is it the same magical creature who is taking a squeegee to all that glass and tile every day? And where are they hiding the bathroom reading because… let’s be honest here… everybody reads on the pooper.
I also started to question the kitchen set up. Love the giant refrigerator that makes ice cubes and tells you when the door is open (and presumably does your taxes and occasionally babysits the kids) but am a bit perplexed by its nakedness. Where are the school notices and the pizza coupons and that magnetic grocery list thingie? Come to think of it, there are a lot of things missing from these kitchens…the toaster, the coffee maker, the Magic Bullet that so conveniently creates smoothies in the morning… what has happened to these life essentials? Will these designer kitchens really look much different from my own, once those shiny marble counters are cluttered with paper towel holders and cutting boards and that perfectly put together fruit bowl has been covered in plastic wrap to defend against fruit flies?
And don’t even get me started on the living rooms! The designer living rooms were all super-intimidating and I couldn’t figure out where I would put my wine glass. The newest rage seems to be replacing the coffee table with an ottoman (or a weird grouping of ottomans… What is the plural of ottoman… Ottomani? Ottomanus?) and instead of end tables, there are “re-purposed” things, like ladders with a single, useless item on each rung, or a bunch of hardcover books that have been strategically stacked and presumably glued together. It seems practical to have destroyed the books because I cannot imagine where one might actually read in this room anyway. The only lighting comes from giant standing lamps that loom threateningly over a sofa and mis-matched collection of chairs. I suspect, based on the angle of the lamp shades, that any perspective reader would be blinded by the glare yet oddly unable to find enough wattage to actually read print. So… back to my initial problem… there is no where to put my wine glass, though this may be deliberate, since the rug in front of the sofa is either (a) white, (b) made of fur, (c) more expensive than the family car, or (d) all of the above.
And don’t think that you might be able to simply read in bed because the bedroom is clearly not a place where people read. There are two basic versions of the designer bedroom: masculine and feminine. In the masculine version, the entire room is essentially empty, save for a bed the width of a small island nation that sits about six inches off the floor on an invisible frame. Everything is black and white except for a single piece of art that doubles as a headboard and features no definable images… just a few swathes of paint and a dollop of red somewhere, which “pulls the look together” by pseudo-matching with the lone red toss cushion. All of the other cushions have clearly been stolen by the designers who favour “feminine” designs. In the feminine bedroom, you require a step stool to access the bed and once you climb onto your lofty perch, the first task of the evening must be throwing the dozens of toss cushions downward to the floor. I assume that the magical creature who keeps the bathroom sparkling must spend the remainder of his/her day making the bed.
I think that I am getting too old for interior design magazines. It happened with cooking magazines. One day I was happily perusing through Bon Apetit and imagining a world where my family snacked on prosciutto-wrapped melon and the next I lost the ability to pretend that I might scrape the seeds out of a vanilla bean to create my own ice cream. Maybe it’s okay because truthfully, Ben and Jerry make great ice cream and the time I save by just grabbing it at the grocery store leaves me with whole evenings to sit with my kids on our squishy old sofa, feet perched on a very-out-of-style wooden coffee table. And we can all watch television without fear of dropping anything on the area rug because it cost $49.95 on sale at Walmart!