Happy birthday to the blog today – it is one year old in the .com environment. So, while I generally try to avoid it, I am going to get ridiculously sentimental.
Why why why why why? Why do I love this retro renovation stuff — more so now, than ever? The intensity of my interest never wanes, only grows. Is anyone familiar with Lean Six Sigma analysis techniques? They ask themselves why five times, to get to the bottom of things.
Why why why why why?
1 – Why midcentury style? Because I had a 50s house. It needed some work. I am cheap: “It’s fun to be young and poor, not fun to be old and poor.” So I decided to do it in the original style of the house so it would “never go out of style.”
2 – Okay, but why did I turn out to love it so much? There is no obvious logical answer. I never had any affinity before. My decorating awakening was 1970 – when I got to choose my own 5th grade bedroom decor (a triumph!). Flash forward, my apartments were charming, but un-self-consciously so. I was always a bargain hunter. My first married home, a 1912 colonial revival with lots of Arts & Crafts influences. I also renovated that – I “got into it” — but I did not get sucked into a vortex. This house, though…. Once I started with this house, what started as ‘going with the flow’ turned into something infinitely stronger.
3 – Why? My interest in the decoration quickly led to interest in the people, the era, the social history. The ‘why’ that led to the decor. My husband informed me that I am a populist, at heart. I just love the fact that the wealth of the postwar era was spread around… that there was little bit of something – a little ranch house, a dinette, a pull down light, a pink bathroom, a little piece of paradise – starting to become within everyone’s reach. That’s the era’s appeal to me.
4 – The pull goes even deeper, I think, as I brought the era into my own home, my own family’s life. The sentiment I felt toward the “stuff” I collected also transferred to the people it came from – and for the love they put into it. Over the past 5 years I also solidly entered into middle age. I now have as much personal history to reflect upon that’s in my rearview mirror, compared to ahead. And my kid is growing up and will fly the coop soon. What kind of memories will stay with her, about the family home that I’m building? The people – in the houses we now own – went through exactly the very same life stages. They bought the house – the stuff – they raised their kids – it was their family home and all that means. All this babbling rolls up to the fact that I do get emotional about saving, salvaging, restoring – or at minimum, saying a little prayer of gratitude when something that’s served its purpose really has to go. You can’t just tear the stuff out, tear the houses down, without thinking, or worse, with disgust.
5 – Why not just rip it out and start all over? Because what goes around – comes around. You rip out someone else’s stuff carelessly – and someone down the line will obliterate your hard work, as well. It’s very bad karma just to roll over the past.