Illustration: The Magazine of Yoga
Victoria Hagen, Houdini and No Plastic Hangers
Observations of a Fifty Something Housewife
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST MORA HECHT
A good home must be made, not bought.
~ Joyce Maynard
Friends of mine recently stopped by for a visit. They asked for the nickel tour, and knowing my penchant for rearranging furniture, as well as closets, drawers and cabinets, they cheerfully anticipated the changes awaiting them.
Tripping Over Furniture
Not one for acquiring tchatchkes, but coveting one room or another in Elle Decor, House Beautiful or my treasured design books I am often inspired to change things up.
Right now I am loving Victoria Hagan, Interior Portraits. This has nothing to do with the fact that my talented son-in-law has a by-line for his extraordinary vision in bringing the book to fruition. But the truth is not much stays the same in our revolving house.
My husband often comments when he comes home late at night he might trip over a sofa or chair once relegated to another room of the house.
My quest for perfection knows no bounds.
Less is more, especially if you rearrange it
An armoire from the bedroom may take up residence in the living room; a bathroom stool may reside just as happily in the den as it did by the tub.
I may be a bit over zealous at times.
I once rearranged the contents of my refrigerator creating a still life of apples, pears and grapes. Not surprisingly, it did not last long.
The area that receives the most attention is our positively tiny walk-in master bedroom closet. My husband and I share this oxymoron of a space. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in imagination and ingenuity. I hold steadfast to the theory that it is quality over quantity (as it is for most things in life). Our little closet is a gem that seems to speak to me the most and elicits the strongest response from friends who have homes stunning enough to be in any of my coffee table books.
That all my clothes fit, along with my husband’s, is of some consternation to visitors, eliciting gasps and exclamations of, “How can this be all your clothes? You must be using other closets in the house!”
Shoes are neatly nestled in cubbies, as well as hand bags, and multiple straw boxes hold mementos from my children. Small crystal bowls overflow with assorted beaded necklaces. And my latest find, mirrored gold hooks from Home Goods, add a bit of Hollywood glam!
There are a few rules that enable such efficacy.
No Plastic Hangers!
I have slowly traded in all multi-colored plastic hangers for wooden ones. I have made it to middle-age and I think this is the least I can do for myself.
If an item has not been worn in over a year (unless it has some sentimental value) donate it. And I do not need to torture myself with reminders of past mistakes; impulsively made purchases or sizes I have been unable to wrangle myself into.
I have a bathroom scale, a full length mirror and gravity to remind me of that, thank you very much.
Goodwill and Houdini
It is not unusual for me to receive calls after visits of closets re-organized and bags full of clothes for Goodwill, acknowledging the inspiration to live with less.
I often wonder where this desire for minimalistic thought came to be. It may be a direct response to my mother’s piles of papers, sundry items no longer useful, merely taking up valuable counter top space.
And always perplexing to me were the clothes hanging in my closet, no longer fitting over my head or above my knees, forbidden to be given away. Memories of being stuffed into clothing two sizes too small and trying to extricate yourself, Houdini-like from a suffocating-stuck-over-your-head dress is not a great morale booster.
Ironically, my fondness for in-house design and the constant ebb and flow of new ideas within may be a legacy of sorts. Happy childhood recollections of spring days flood my mind. Our house would come alive with the sweet scent of freshly cut grass, curtains gently fluttering in and out with each breeze and rooms rearranged, accented with newly found rugs in sky blue or sea green.
So I have realized, after much self-reflection, perhaps what I view as a truly mindful desire to rearrange the landscape of my home, whether closet, family room or fridge, is a result of what I cannot control.
Our home, as everyone’s should be, is a sanctuary of comfort and personal expression, as changeable as it may be. And my closet is a safe haven where I am not confronted with the excesses of unnecessary clutter overwhelming its tiny breadth of space; and in the very stillness of this refuge lives calming simplicity for mind, body and soul and a clearer way to view the world.
As George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world.”
From where I sit, I see it beautifully.
Read Mora all month long, blogging with her pearls on, at Is Anybody Else Hot?
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.