As annoying as my mother can be, she does come in handy with home decor. So on Friday evening I had her stop by my apartment. I’d finally bitten the bullet on my flooring debacle and since I can’t decorate to save my life, I thought she just might shed some light. All I needed was for her to confirm the size of the area rug I wanted to buy for my bedroom. That was it. The size of an area rug. For my bedroom. Period.
“What’s going on here?” my mom asked when she stepped into my entryway, her arms flailing every which way.
“For the record, you’re the one who picked that all out,” I said while pointing to my living room sofas.
“No, this,” she said while scrunching up her nose as if the treadmill she was pointing to was emitting a foul odor.
“That there is exercise equipment. I work out on it. Regularly. And while it consumes the entire dining area, it is going absolutely nowhere. Because for once in my life,” I said, halting mid-sentence when I noticed my mother walking away from me.
“Paige, come in here,” she ordered.
“Yeah?” I fearfully asked as I strolled down the corridor and into my bedroom.
“These drapes are atrocious,” she said while pulling one away from the wall to get a view from a different angle.
“Yeah, I bought those with you. At Target,” I defended. “They matched the Ralph Lauren pattern on my shams and cost less than an arm and a leg.”
“For the record, I would have never let you buy these. They’re crap,” she announced before letting go of the panel and wiping her palm on her slacks. “Grab your bag, I’m taking you shopping.”
And off we went on a whirlwind weekend tour of stores I usually avoid. From Pottery Barn to HomeGoods, Domain to Lowes, I walked the aisles in search of decoratey things. Most conversations went something like this:
“I like this.”
“No you don’t. It’s hideous and goes with nothing. Put it back.”
Monday morning couldn’t come fast enough. Finally I had a legitimate escape from my mother the interior design Nazi. I stumbled into my office at around nine and got right down to work. Then my mom rang to remind me to order the previously selected replacement bedding. Instead I called Leslie.
“Mom had me looking at a $4,000 sofa on Saturday,” I said when she picked up. “I spent about that much on my kitchen. More importantly, what’s the traditional height of a bedskirt? Pottery Barn has two sizes and both seem silly long.”
“I can’t wait to redecorate,” Leslie answered with the excitement I reserve for enjoyable experiences like sitting on a beach or having sex. I could tell she was already drifting off, her mind dancing around visions of toile and chintz.
“The height?” I pressed.
“What are you doing?”
“Ivory. Matelasse. Same as what I now have but preferably without the suspicious stain running from the upper left corner down to the lower right corner. And no, it isn’t from sex. I washed it to get one stain out and this one appeared in its place.”
“You washed it? Good job - now the stain has set. You were supposed to dry clean it,” she said before finally telling me the height on the bedskirt. “You know, not to confuse matters but when I did the lake house, I used Restoration Hardware. I like their bedding better.”
I got tense. My palms started to sweat. My stomach started to churn. The edges of my vision went blurry.
“Paige? You there?”
“I can’t do this. I’m allergic to decorating. I'll catch you later. Like once I stop hyperventilating.”
Five minutes later, my phone rang. It was my mom.
“I was thinking. Maybe you should paint one accent wall in your bedroom. To pull out the blue from that rug you bought Friday night. Because you have to incorporate that color elsewhere. Or I guess you could buy a throw. Something you can casually toss on that dark wooden armchair you still don’t own.”
“Why buy an armchair when I can pay you to stand in the corner and hold it?” I asked.
“I am free on weekends! Ooh, that’s the other line - I’ll call you back,” my mom said before the line went dead.
I hung up the phone and started rubbing my temples to release the pain. Then I closed any and all computer windows that involved decorating, grabbed a mini-peanut butter cup from the communal candy dish and went back to work. Maybe the dry cleaner can get the stain out of the duvet I already own. Or maybe I can buy a replacement of sorts from Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware or some other place that sells that crap. Or maybe I can leave it as is. Hey, nothing a little dim lighting can’t remedy.