Sunday, May 8, 2016

A-Dressing Home

"It's time..."

Sometimes I shut the closet door and start outfitting the house. It doesn't happen often, but we're doing a "refresh" (aka painting every room with total disruption to life as we knew it).  Repainting means moving the furniture and packing up the tchotchkes.

The first thought is always, "How did we get so much stuff???" Along with a little weeding comes acknowledgment of dingy lampshades or cracked plant pots that should/must be replaced. Seeing your home naked makes you think of new ways to dress it. Then comes a good long session at Homegoods or on I challenge anyone to repaint her rooms without replacing so much as a shower curtain!

My mother was a stylish but disciplined dresser. She decorated the same way. When it was finished, it was done. Her challenge came when we moved, which was whenever the lease was up. Mother didn't like the fact that landlords could raise rents. She always managed to rearrange the furniture seamlessly in the new layout and was only stymied once.

We moved into an older building with a fireplace flanked by extensive built in bookshelves. Talk about focal point! We were not a family of book owners. Library cards, yes. Hardbound books? Not so much. Mother's solution was to hit estate sales and buy books by the boxes. She took off whatever covers there were and recovered them in either turquoise or hot pink glazed paper. They were then assembled on the shelves in a pleasing abstract pattern. The books were not for reading; they were Art.

Over time I got curious what was under those papers and would amuse myself (if she wasn't home) taking a peek. No Hemingway first editions turned up, but I did read some 1940s potboilers like "Forever Amber".

My mother's very good taste in furniture has stood the test of time. I am fortunate to have her pieces by Harvey Probber (living room) and Paul McCobb (bedroom), as bright and stylish as they were when new in 1953.

I never understood the logic in going through the trouble and expense of moving to counteract a rent increase, but we had freshly painted walls and newly polished floors in one fell swoop. Now I see...

Harvey still looks good


  1. Hi Michelle,
    My mother had a Paul McCobb livingroom couch, that she treated like "gold". I believe it was covered with a protective cloth for many years.
    I hadn't heard his name for many, many years, so you brought back lots of memories.
    I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday.

    1. McCobb and Probber were considered "very good" but not in the same category as Nelson, Saarinen, Eames or Noguchi. They were Buicks compared to Cadillacs as they were more affordable. Now, of course, that Paul McCobb sofa would be worth gold!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.