An agonizer, not a designer

A picture of a Home Interior grouping from eBay.
I found this image of a Home Interior grouping on eBay. My mother-in-law didn’t have this one, but you get the idea.

If you are nice enough to read this blog, please do not develop expectations for kitchen design advice.

In planning a major kitchen redo over the past several months, I’ve come to terms with my weaknesses. I’m no decorator.

That has caused prolonged agony as I try to make expensive choices with long-term ramifications. This is our second and last kitchen makeover. Please.

I do want the new kitchen to look nice.

I compare the situation to my former job as editor of the Charleston Daily Mail. I wanted the paper to look great but I lacked page design skills. Thankfully, others did not. Philip Maramba, do you also do kitchens?

Once a cousin spent several nights at my house when her parents were ill and she needed to be with them in the city where I live.

As she prepared to depart, she said she wanted to buy me a hostess gift but struggled for an idea. “Your house is so austere,” she said.

What she viewed as austere I saw as childproof and easy to dust. She was right in observing that the knickknacks were few and far between.

My husband simply dislikes trinkets, and I crave order. A psychologist might find our leanings rooted in childhood.

His mom used to attend direct-sale parties, where you feel compelled to buy something because the hostess is your friend or relative. She seemed especially captive to Home Interiors, with its groupings of sconces and sentimental prints.

The son I married found such decor tacky and useless. I learned early in our marriage that he wasn’t going to gladly suffer “geegaws” in our home.

As for me, the small house where I grew up on Charleston’s West Side was usually a mess.

My maternal grandmother had been a spotless housekeeper, and my mother apparently had her fill of the constant cleaning. She knew how but did it sporadically at best.

She also worked full-time, had three kids and looked after both my grandfathers after my grandmothers died. So I became her volunteer helper, cleaning the bathroom and running the decrepit vacuum cleaner at a tender age.

I recall the pungent odor of that ancient upright as it sucked up debris with a clogged roller, full bag and tired motor.

These days I may not have knickknacks, but I take good care of my up-to-date vacuum cleaner. If my cousin had stayed longer, she might have noticed this. My hostess gift could have been bags and filters.

But cleaning is where I stop. I’d rather go read a book than rearrange furniture or place a tchotchke on an end table.

So my problem with the kitchen redo has been making the countless choices from today’s vast array of “finishes,” a euphemism for expensive products.

A time or two when I was frozen with indecision, I enlisted the help of my daughter and best friend, both of whom have design savvy. They helped me choose but, even better, boosted my confidence.

The ultimate decisions have been made by me and Rod. We hope the redo turns out OK but aren’t expecting House Beautiful to come calling.

I’ll try to keep it clean.






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