“Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor, but they couldn’t all possibly have good taste and a sense of humor.” –When Harry Met Sally
Having designed rooms for couples and families for more than a decade, I can tell you my role as designer crosses over into marriage counselor more often than you’d imagine. A client will tug at my sleeve while their spouse steps away for a moment, handing me some offensive object, “Whatever you do. Get. Rid. Of. This.” And remember it was all YOUR idea.”
The sports trophy, the fish mounted on a plaque, the ceramic figurine, the odd commemorative plate/spoon/challis — I’ve seen it all. Combining two lives into a home and keeping the peace is often one of the reasons my clients hire me. They want good design. They want functional spaces. And they want the Beer Can Collection GONE.
When I met my husband and saw his beer stein collection, lovingly arranged on a wood plank suspended my cinder blocks, interspersed with the empty bottles of beer he had drunk using them, I will admit I took pause. Perhaps it was the Budweiser Girls poster that completed the vignette, but I had the reaction I imagine most women do, “Yeah, that’s goin’ in the attic.”
Years pass, and my German mother is packing her things to downsize to a smaller place. I am offered no fewer than 5 authentic German beer steins that had belonged to my Grandfather. Maybe it was the family history, maybe it was their non-adjacency to cinder blocks, but they were beautiful; each one more colorful and intricate than the next. I lined them up in our bar area combined with my husbands’ steins and we get compliments on them from party guests often.
One technique I’ve seen many clients use is to corral the offensive objects to one confined area (typically a basement — I believe the current term for this is Man Cave). The bar stools, the wagon wheel coffee table, the antler chandelier, the framed sports jersey at its side, wine corks in a vase, maybe a stack of Rush concert tickets nearby.
The problem with this is twofold. First of all the owner of these prized possessions feels banished in their own home. Never mind that not every home HAS the space for a Man Cave, Second of all, when you pull equally unattractive items together, it tends to have MORE of a visual impact than if they were dispersed and worked into a room. I have made grown men cry (in a good way) when they have seen their things incorporated into a design in a meaningful, beautiful way.
Just imagine — the antlers dismantled, whitewashed, and artfully stacked in an unused fireplace. The bar stools reupholstered and refinished, placed at a stainless steel topped kitchen island. The wagon wheel suspended from cables holding large pillar candles above a vintage farmhouse table. That’s some Pinterest quality stuff right there, folks.
The cinder block sideboard? That can be used to display your Lladro figurines at the Garage Sale.