Looking Back

Decorating memories

By Mary Ellen Shaw

The elements of decorating seem to come together so easily when you watch the process on HGTV. However, that hasn’t always been the case when I have changed the décor in my own home.

My inability to make a decision got its launch right after college. I had come back home to live with my mother. My father had passed away recently and home was where I wanted to be. Both of us needed a project to keep us busy. We decided that our bedrooms could use a fresh and bright look. We weren’t sure where to start but decided to select wallpaper first. Back in the 1960s there were several stores that had multiple shelves of wallpaper books. Talk about overwhelming! We quickly learned that it was best to decide what “look” we wanted – country, formal, floral, plaid, etc.

Since I was a college graduate and 21 years old, I was officially an “adult.” That meant being a true partner in this project. As we browsed we found that we had similar tastes and left the store with about a half-dozen books, all with floral prints. Then the fun began.

We took the books to our bedrooms, flipped through them and marked the pages we liked best. Eventually we both whittled our choices down to just one.

You have probably heard the expression, “Great minds think alike.” Well, in our case we both liked exactly the same pattern. We laughed about it and solved the problem by choosing different colors of that pattern.

We had begun the decorating journey! The next step was deciding between curtains or drapes. We had always had curtains so thought that drapes would be a nice change. The quest began. Downtown Rutland had several stores that carried drapes but nothing seemed like a good match. However, when we got to Home Fashions on Center Street our problem was solved.

Store owners Joe and Frances Gluck offered the “personal touch.” They actually made drapes in the store. They suggested that we bring in a wallpaper sample to see which fabric looked best with it. Joe offered to come to the house and measure the windows. He would help us with trim options, such as fringe, and help us decide on the length as well as checking to see if we would need a valance. This project was looking a whole lot easier!

Home Fashions was “one-stop shopping” for us as the store had beautiful bedspreads. Thanks to the Glucks everything came together beautifully. The rooms looked great and even with a matching wallpaper pattern the rooms didn’t have a “copy cat” look.

Different accessories … different looks!

Fast forward to the 80s when my husband, Peter, and I moved into my family home after my mother passed away. The living room had a very dated look and once again I couldn’t figure out how to tie it all together. A relative had used local decorator Tom Harris to help her remodel their living room and I loved the results. What I loved even more was the fact that he brought everything to the house. There were no wallpaper books to bring home and no paint samples to agonize over. So we hired Tom, who came to our house to learn out about our tastes and color preferences and to discuss wallpaper versus paint. Our life had been made easy once again and the finished product was coordinated in a manner that I would never have been able to achieve.

I think watching so many HGTV shows the last few years has finally helped me figure out how to pull everything together. I have been able to select colors and styles that actually come out looking the way I hoped they would.

Within the past year or so my husband and I have managed to make decorative changes in the living room and completely remodel the bathroom. Both rooms came out as we hoped they would.

The funny thing is that after we have finally removed wallpaper from every room in the house except one, wallpaper is making a comeback! But these two seniors are going to keep their painted walls. If you have ever stripped wallpaper, you know it’s not easy. It’s messy and painstaking. It’s much easier to make a decorative change with a can of paint than from a wallpaper pasting board. Been there, done that.

I have to give my husband credit for being a great wallpaper hanger over the years. When I asked if he would want to start over, he looked at me and said, “Are you crazy?”

Guess the paint will remain.

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