As an amateur interior designer — aka I love to buy home goods — I’m very excited about the upcoming NYCxDESIGN.
May 3rd is the kickoff of this annual two-week event that is the city’s official celebration of design, spanning the five boroughs, and bringing together all the disciplines of design, commerce, culture, education, and entertainment with exhibitions, installations, trade shows, talks, launches and open studios.
As my husband Neil and I have finally made peace with our different decorating sensibilities, I hesitate asking him to join me, in fear that we might end up reverting to arguing over an end table or sofa fabric.
Twenty-seven years ago, I married a man who believed that a home draped in beige was a home decorated by House Beautiful. Almost three decades later, Neil still clings to this principle.
On the other hand, he married a woman with a colorful side – literally and figuratively, who sought out the eclectic, especially antiques, or as he called them, “Other people’s old crap.”
Over the years, though, he never stopped me from using my personal touch to adorn where we lived; this should not be confused with him liking it.
For decades, he has accepted in silence the time I painted the living room ceiling a deep aquamarine to pick up that same shade that was in our swirl of colors rug. He learned to love the entry hall that I had painted purple while he was away on business. He also went along with the bright yellow bathroom, my overstuffed furniture phase, and the all-Deco-all-the-time chapter of my recreational designer life.
I have heard that couples who have been together for a long while begin to look alike, or pick up each other’s habits and expressions. I never thought it would extend to home decor.
Three years ago, when we decided to redecorate our living room/dining room areas, I showed Neil a magazine depicting a theme I found really appealing. I could tell he was mentally bracing himself for what was going to be on the page.
“Really?” he wanted to know.
The interior designer had called his creation “Zen,” a combination of beige, pale gray and light blue. I chose it, not to appease Neil, or finally to finally do things his way, but because after almost thirty years of working to create the life we wanted, and living with the chaos of raising two children on the Upper East Side, I felt we owed ourselves a peaceful, calming space.
“Well, it’s happened,” I said, as we surveyed our new, subdued surroundings, “I’ve become you.” I then wanted to snuggle on our freshly delivered beige sofa, but Neil said he had to step out for a minute. He returned with dozen bright red roses for the vase on our side table, claiming, “I thought we needed some color.”
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels FAT CHICK and BACK TO WORK SHE GOES.