I don’t know if you have visited a model home recently, but I find them totally intimidating because there is this overwhelming sense that in all the homes, everything actually matches. Although I know it is hard to believe, it is almost as if someone had a plan and a theme.

Judging from the obvious quality of the furnishings, it looks as if they also possibly had lots of money. These are all foreign concepts to me, a little like Einstein’s theory of relativity. I’ve read the formula and heard that it works, but don’t believe for a minute that I understand it.

My concept of interior design is that like most accidents, it just happens. I certainly didn’t actually plan my home’s color scheme. It occurred more like a chain reaction, where one event set off another and then another. It all began in the early days of our marriage when our families looked upon us as their favorite charity, bestowing upon us, instead of the Salvation Army, their castoffs. Combined with the few basic pieces of furniture that we bought, these castoffs became an integral part of our household.

I could not go so far as to classify them as belonging to any one particular style; some were early American, some modern, and others were pretty much indescribable. What they were was functional. After a while they became part of the family. “Sue, I’d like you to meet my children, our dog, Sandy, Uncle Fred’s chair, and Aunt Hazel’s coffee table.” Every time we moved, they came too.

With every move came a new challenge. Could I help it if my old color scheme didn’t go with my new home’s color scheme? I had big plans to buy a few new pieces and redo the mismatched ones, but there were priorities. I had to first find window coverings for the bedrooms; the neighbors were complaining. Those sheets and Sunday funnies I kept taped up on the windows for three months were beginning to sag. Just when I thought I could afford to change the upholstery and add accessories, I was shocked to find that my decorating budget and the down payment on Junior’s orthodontic work were the same. Junior’s teeth won.

I confided to a neighbor my frustration over my decorating dilemma. She said she had exactly the same problem: avocado and gold living room furniture, a peach and aqua color scheme in her new house, and a tiny budget. However, she had figured out a way to pull it all together. Her method was simple.

First, for the living room, she bought peach and aqua throw pillows and tossed them on the avocado and gold sofa and chairs. Then she bought silk flowers in peach, aqua, avocado and gold. She then arranged them in a large bouquet and set it in the middle of the coffee table.

In each room of the house she repeated the multi-color flower arrangement/throw pillow effect. She told me when people come to her house, they can’t believe their eyes. I’m going to go out and buy some of those silk flowers and throw pillows just as soon as I dash off a letter to Martha Stewart. And she thought she knew all the secrets of decorating.




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