I hate decorating. I hate picking paint colors, buying furniture, choosing fabrics (ha – I don’t actually know what one would do with fabrics but this seems to be a thing with interior people), and having too many….erm…decorative objects makes me break out in hives. “TOO MANY THINGS TO DUST!” said my mother once and yes. AGREED.
Couple my….lack of passion for the topic with the very real fact that I am Not Very Good At This and you end up with a house full of Stuff That Does Not Go, coupled with a few large pieces of Stuff That Doesn’t Fit, usually co-located with at least one Piece From a Wishful Thinking Phase, and rounded out nicely with Stuff I Had in College.
Happily, I also have…an A. (You may remember her from here: Am I Too Old or Too Short For These Jeans?)
My dear friend A is one of those magical creatures who seems to need no sleep, has boundless energy, and can see 3-D scale models in her head of any room she designs. She’s the kind of friend who, on a Friday night, if you happen to say, “I wonder if I should move the couch over he–” is already on her feet, moving the couch, chair, bookshelf, and swapping out the rug for one she happens to remember seeing once in your basement. And somehow…despite no shortage of initial arguing (usually by me)….it always looks a million times better when A is done.
She’s like a fairy godmother of home design.
No, scratch that. She’s like the…..Energizer Bunny of home design. A fairy godmother would just wave a magic wand and POOF. Done. She wouldn’t text you at odd hours of the night telling you that she found THE EXACT NIGHTSTAND for your bedroom and oh-by-the-way 5 new lighting fixtures were added to the Pinterest board she created for your playroom and when you (finally) log on to Pinterest to look…you realize that she’s also created Pinterest boards for alllll of your friends who she is also simultaneously helping. With all of their rooms. In all of their houses.
(If you guys want to follow A on Pinterest, you are in for a treat. She finds killer stuff. )
But one of the many reasons I love A so dearly, is not for her mad home design skills. It’s for her general outlook on life, her ability to…shine, so brightly -even through all of life’s shit (and she has more than her fair share), yet somehow expand that glow to everyone around her. She’s the kind of girl who truly lights up a room, and the whole world is better because A is in it.
One of A’s pet projects lately is helping Mike and I finish our renovations. This has involved many bottles of wine, Pinterest board after Pinterest board, and, when I’m being more stubborn than usual……A’s shenanigans. She’s held one-act plays in my living room over coffee tables, written an Ode To My Powder Room, and…..the weekly emails. Which are actually my favorite part.
Almost every week, A has started writing letters about whatever topic we’ve been discussing, filled with all kinds of fun home decor inspiration, but also a little dose of real life. Of her. Of her indefatigable optimism, her charm, her East-Coast, Philly-girl nonsense.
I’ve been getting so much joy out of these letters that I asked A if I could share them with you.
Letters From A
White. S, for goodness sake, where on earth is the WHITE??? I love these East Coast transitions to spring where we wear shorts one day and hats and gloves the next…but honestly, it never feels like winter happened until we get pounded with snow. Tons and tons of fluffy white snow!!! Shut the city down. Sleep in late. Drink cocoa. Build a snowman. Have a snowball fight. Sled the Art Museum steps. And ski on real, actual snow. I fell asleep last night dreaming of white. Winter Storm Stella, please bring the white!!!
Did you see those first few fluffy Philadelphia snowflakes falling? It’s pure magic – that moment that pauses around them. Sometimes we just need moments of of that kind of peace and calm. All of us.
I woke-up, saw that dusting of white snow on the sidewalks and naturally wondered….what exactly is a White Sale? (This was my avoidance-thought to: Shoveling. Pre or post-coffee??)
I KNOW what a White Sale is. But where did that term come from and why aren’t they all about white? All white home stuff is so fun!!! Wiki that:
Snow day fun fact from your favorite East Coast, Philly Native, White Homegoods Loving, Peace and Calm Channelling Girlfriend who is here to bring you back from your post-holiday-mid school year-it’s not spring time yet and we all have cabin fever-crazy to finish finding mostly-white furniture. We can’t control the white storm outside, but we sure can make one inside!!! All in avoidance of said shoveling.
“White Sale” was coined by John Wanamaker, in Philadelphia in 1878!
Oh my gosh S, I wish Wanamaker’s was still what it was when I was a kid. You would have LOVED it!!! It was so glamorously grande! Growing-up, it was Philadelphia’s architecturally beautiful, big deal, big city department store. It was a ‘thing’ for sure. White marble floors, white stone walls, the displays were just so perfectly elegant and the scale was just larger than life. We’d dress-up and go with our Grandmom Daly and make a day of it. Clothing on floor after floor, accessories on the next, home goods way up high. Professional sales people, with perfect manners and smiles, dressed to the nines, positioned just-so. Toys had an entire floor where a respectful, well-behaved child could be lost for hours. And there was a fabulous restaurant where we’d have tea set properly and treats and overlook the giant organ in the center hall where some person you couldn’t ever actually see would magically make music every so often. East Coast circa 1970 something. This was how we “did.” There was something so pure and simple about the giant complexity of it. I miss Wanamaker’s. I miss my Grandmom. I miss the magic of childhood. I miss the whole thing of it. We almost never actually bought anything. But spending a day ‘shopping’ there with her, was just such a gift! And this my sweet friend, was a full fifty percent of the smile on my face when you took me to Getz’s in Marquette and we had Hudson Bay blankets in childhood experience memory common-and that’s about all! East Coast versus Mid West. We both win.
And now, three kids, school, homework, after-school activities, work, three class-parentings, three boards, and full-on social-central non-stop (also adult-friendly) kid-party-house, plus all that adulting everyday nonsense we’re all subject to…you know what calms me?
White home goods.
You can wipe down the white leather, and you can wash, dish soap, oxy, and scrub all the craziness out of the rest of it. And yes, sometimes desperate times call for a little bleach. White grounds the whole home situation. It doesn’t get old. It doesn’t distract the eye. It doesn’t take up more attention than it deserves. It’s the best base ever. In a house full of all all the colorful and crazy accoutrements of active city living with little kids, friendship and love, the white everywhere and everything is the key to calm at home.
I just touched up a whole house of Super White walls. It’s so peaceful in here. White walls can always be scrubbed with a magic eraser. By children even for fun! They are easy to touch up. And they are an awesome base for fun pops of color everywhere else! It’s just so refreshing walking into clean white walls everywhere: they amplify the sunlight, and you get to take those nice, clean, deep calm breaths every time you walk in and appreciate them!
White: the easiest, most cost-efficient way to paint an entire house.
B-oring you say? Shush. Walls in flat finish and the wood and trim and details in high gloss.
The painter will say no. Do it anyway. Tres chic.
White, light-touch, top-down, bottom-up honeycomb shades that disappear right into those high-gloss-white window frames you just did. Again, whole house. Go for it. They work so well at both keeping light out and letting it in. Black-out white shades in the bedrooms. Let a little light shine through but keep the privacy everywhere else. Window treatments done. White. And Well. Clean and cost and energy efficient too. You can add more to them later. Not now. For now, enjoy the white.
White art. When you can create beauty from layering white, it’s just breathtaking. More on that later.
Are you with me?
John Wanamaker was a genius. White is Brilliant. And there’s a design purist in me that just can’t get enough of it.
Or maybe that’s the crazy mom in me working so hard to surround us all in genuine actual calm and peace from a home goods perspective, at least. And in these great pieces and this moment, I’ve found it.
Done. Time to get back to the crazy. Time to go play in wet snow. Time to shovel.
I love you. Peace and calm. A