A friend of mine has just had her house painted, new carpets laid, etc. I went to see the final result, now that the workmen have left. As I knew it would be, it is beautiful. She's someone who knows about decorating, matching the right fabric with the right paint, choosing the right antiques, and the right piece of art to pull everything together.
I remember years ago when we were fixing up the little bedroom upstairs to use for guests. After Ned painted the walls, I spent an afternoon decorating and when I stood at the door to survey my creation, I decided that the then hot-shot TV decorator Christopher Lowell could have stood at the door and thrown things into the room and have it look better than what I had lovingly created.
Sadly, decorating is another of those talents that I never acquired.
When I was growing up, we lived in a flat in San Francisco. In the flat above us lived our landlord and landlady, Joe and Irma. The thing I remember most about Irma is that she had a closet stuffed with dresses, noteworthy because when she found a dress she liked, she bought it in small, medium, and large, to accommodate her always fluctuating size.
(This is a picture I found among my father's things. Irma and Joe have Xs on them....and it's blurry because it was blurry to begin with. But they must have had hundreds of these photos covering their walls, so that it was impossible to know what color the paint on the wall was because there was no space to see anything.)
I knew I would never have a house like Irma and Joe's. My house would be tastefully decorated with lovely pieces of artwork. To that end the very first thing we bought with the first check we received as a wedding gift was an etching of Beethoven that we saw in the window of an antique store one evening. It hung over our piano for years.
Right before we moved to Davis, we attended an art sale. It is the only one we have ever attended, I think, and was one of those deals where artists who crank out pictures quickly and sell them cheap exhibit their wares. I don't know why we went to the sale, but as we turned a corner at the end of the row I saw "the painting." We were about to move away from the San Francisco Bay Area, which I loved, to the flatland and this was the thing I wanted to take with me. It's probably mass produced and it only cost $100 (I suspect the bulk of the cost was the frame), which was a terrible extravagance for us in 1973, but I loved it.
It takes up the entire wall on which it hangs and is way too big for the room, but I still love it and it still brings San Francisco back to me when I look at it. For years it made me less homesick to look at it.
Next to this painting is the fireplace and on the opposite of the fireplace, we do have an nice groupings of Vanity Fair prints of Gilbert and Sulllivan.
I bought three of them and my friend Alison kindly gave me the fourth. I love them too. But that's about the extent of my tasteful decoration (you'll notice that Arthur Sullivan hangs at a rakish angle, which I would have straighted before taking the photo if it hadn't been 1 a.m. when I took it and I would have had to move boxes and probably knocked the picture to the floor trying to fix it!)
I do have a nice grouping, a salute to Peet's coffee, though it is hardly great art....a poster I found at Peet's, in a Long Drug Store frame, a nice print of the SF Chronicle and a cup of coffee, and an article about Peet's that I tore out of a Sunday magazine.
When the kids were performing, the walls looked more like Irma and Joe's walls. We had theatre pictures everywhere. Now we just have the Lawsuit wall which remains.
It's a nice wall to use for a nice grouping of lovely art prints, but, I dunno...I like remembering the Lawsuit days and I suppose I'll never change the pictures that hang on it.