Alternate title: Coming to Terms with CDCS (that’s “compulsive decor changing syndrome”, which I’ve just made up but most certainly have.)
Yesterday I sat at my kitchen table and railed against myself.
On Sunday, we came home from spending the afternoon at a friend’s house and had barely pulled into the driveway before I was already getting snappish. Jeremy rebuked me gently (he’s good at that) and I sighed and confessed that I was just not happy to be home. I had already been struggling–see this embarrassing rambling on my Failure Friday–something about being home was pressing on my last nerve.
So I sat at the table after I had finished my coffee and my reading and I asked myself what was wrong with me, why I was ruining my day before it started, why the house was wearing on me so much. I googled things like “my house is making me miserable” and “help, erin, me” and “its me erin help help” and read about Highly Sensitive People (which was like reading a treatise on Clive) before deciding that what I really needed was some sort of project to complete.
At first I blamed this realization on Nesting. Somewhere on Facebook there is a picture of me, about six months pregnant, spraying down a set of wicker furniture on our front lawn. The comments blame the phenomenon on Nesting, that is, the crazed desire to change/perfect everything in your house before a baby comes. But the shameful secret is that I’ve been like this my whole life. Even as a pre-teen I arranged and re-arranged the furniture in my room, in our living room; I moved art, hung new art, sometimes just switched pictures between two walls just to have something new to look at. I would move my furniture every couple of months. Once I took my bed out completely and slept on a mattress on the floor. That was fun. Weird, but different, which is what I wanted.
Then, when I was in college, I was fortunate enough to be an RA and have a whole dorm room to myself. I used this privilege to make up both beds and switch back and forth between them every couple of weeks. When I got tired of waking up and seeing one side of the room, I would change to the other bed and relish the novelty of waking up to see the other side. And so on.
So, clearly the compulsive desire to change up my surroundings can’t be blamed on pregnancy–it’s followed me for far too long. I stopped giving myself that excuse (and stopped wondering what the heck was wrong with me, resolving to think about it another day a-la Scarlett O’Hara) and turned to my mind to what sort of project I was going to tackle to dispel these feelings that were making being home almost unbearable.
I decided to try dyeing the pair of chairs we have in the sitting room. I like them, but they’re a light color (and so good dyeing candidates) and everything in that room is kind of the same color and it makes me crazy. I accidentally rendered that room monochromatic in my attempt to lighten, brighten, and air-ify the house. Our house is naturally sort of dark, mostly due to all the natural light being blocked by
Mirkwood the trees in our overgrown tangle of a backyard. But we have lots going on that sucks light out of our spaces. Dark floors, the bookcases, etc. It’s just the way it is.
I have been making it my slow but steady purpose to whiten and brighten everything I could in the house. When we first moved in, we (as most do) went all out on paint colors, because we liked color, not because we’d ever felt stifled or unable to paint anything–I definitely painted our second apartment fifteen different colors even though we had to paint it all back about one year later when we moved. Actually what happened was I carefully picked out colors that I liked, and then we had a friend who worked at a hardware store re-tint “oops” paint to get it as close to our desired colors as possible (we were on a tight budget) which left us with all kinds of funky weirdness happening on the walls. This is how I ended up with a purple dining room and a Halloween orange powder room.
I got sick of the purple dining room fairly quickly, mostly because we never used it. Wasted rooms are my archenemies, and the Formal Dining Room (when it’s virtually unused) is the worst repeat offender. I would walk past that room and see its purple un-usefulness and seethe at it. I complained it was cold and cave-like. All the furniture was dark, too, so it just felt like the last room I’d want to sit in, let alone eat and socialize in.
I devised all sorts of alternative uses for the room. For a while I lobbied for putting our baby grand piano in there. Then I contemplated making it a sort of playroom after Ephraim was born.(I did that instead with our breakfast nook.) Ultimately we decided to convert it into a sitting room. I took that opportunity to get rid of the purple and lighten the room up.
I carefully considered my colors, making a pinterest board and everything, before settling on some sort of stoney color which could only be accurately described as “greige”. Only after painting did I realize my mistake–everything in the room blended in with the tame wall color. Now, that probably works for most people. But it’s not exactly what I had hoped for.
I didn’t feel like painting it again, so it’s stayed that way for the past three years.
The point of all this was that I felt like dyeing the chairs would lift the room out of its monochromatic doldrums and that thought made me very, very excited.
So I packed the kids up and headed to Wal-Mart to pick up the necessary supplies. I guess in my head I was already considering how another wall color would look with the color I was hoping to get out of the chairs, because when I headed to the home improvement section to get a drop cloth I was immediately drawn to a particular swatch on the paint display.
I had not intended to repaint the room–at least not that day–but I made a split-second decision. On a whim. I bought the paint. It was called French Grey–a deep blue-grey that (I would find out later) actually looks sort of navy on the walls. I figured if it was awful I could paint it back later. I felt only a little anxiety–this color was the exact opposite of light, bright, and airy. We’ve been spending the past few years undoing what I was about to redo in the room. What was I thinking?
I wasn’t thinking. It was my CDCS thinking for me.
So we got home and I fed the kids and put them in their respective naps/quiet times and got to work.
In the process, I discovered a few things.
One, it only took dispelling the monochrome palette to make me like my furniture again (probably because I could actually see it against the walls, now.) I still plan on dyeing those chairs, though.
Two, I am not really sure light, bright and airy is totally for me.
Three, matchy-matchy is most definitely not my style. This room wouldn’t win any design awards, and is certainly not on-trend, but I love it. Hodgepodge is much more up my alley.
Four, I really do have some sort of problem, because changing that one thing in that room has completely altered my outlook on the entire house.
I was afraid Jeremy would be upset when he got home, but he loved it. Even Ephraim, who generally hates it anytime I repaint anything, walked into the room last night and declared it was “delightful”. (Anyone else’s four-year-olds talk that way? Just checking.) He also thinks I got new furniture. The power of paint, y’all.
I don’t think I’ll be painting anything else in the house so dark anytime soon, but I am very glad I succumbed to the whim of my disorder and made a drastic change in there. I finished the painting last night (it took me about five hours total) and today I’m focusing on hanging up lots and lots of art and things.
Updates to come? (I mean it this time…not like the bathroom which I never revisited…you know, come to think of it, that was CDCS driven, too.)