Archive for November, 2015


Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Years ago, before John and I moved in together, I had some concerns about whether we’d be able to find a shared aesthetic. His room in his cooperative house was charmingly snowed in under towers of books, papers, plants, theater props, and bicycle parts. And while I found his mess appealing from a potential-partner point of view (he embraces life, he has a lot of interests, he likes to take care of things that grow), I worried about living with it. I’m not only obsessively neat; I’m also almost frighteningly specific about decor.

The initial months of living together required some negotiation, but because we each had a bedroom (yup—successful transitioning tactic), he had space to continue piling, and I had space to streamline and organize. We stayed in that lovely home for quite a few years. We were happy there, but because it was a rental, I settled on a good-enough approach to furnishing. And the walls, for the most part, remained white. (With one exception: Our dear friend O, the landperson, had very generously painted my bedroom bubblegum pink pre-move-in. Those pink walls were a ceaseless source of pleasure for me.)

Then we bought a house. And moved into the master bedroom together. And had significantly more space. Finally, I faced the appealing task of manifesting my personal aesthetic, but I was also conscious of not wanting to subject John to a world he wouldn’t have chosen for himself. For instance: The master bedroom. Not pink. (It’s aquamarine and cream, with accents of navy and tangerine.) He still has some space to himself (an office, albeit it a small one), where he is free to recreate the rainforest effect. But in all of the shared space, I was hoping to at long last unleash the mid-century modern/CandyLand/Gothic chic that is my joy zone. And you know what? John let me. He kindly, generously, agreeably let me.

Years later, I’m still working on it, of course. There’s only one room (dining) that is definitively Done, while everything else is a WIP. Cue a recent evening, when the steel nightstand from CB2 had arrived and been placed on John’s side of the bed. I was standing there, pondering.

J: Do you like it?

M: I don’t know. Maybe it’s *too* modern.

J: Huh.

M: Or maybe the problem is that we need two of them?

J: Really, two?

M: I don’t know. Normally I’m against matching sets. But nothing else in this room is a set, so . . . maybe?

J: Huh.

M: I don’t know. I can’t tell.

J: We can just live with it for a while and see.

M: Yeah, thanks. That’ll help.

[Some time passes as John begins to stack his magazines on the nightstand's shelf and arrange his clock radio and light on the surface. I walk over to the bed and sit down next to him.]

M: Do you like it?

J: It has a drawer!

M: Yeah.

J: And it’s bigger! Than that last one. So I have more room!

M: Nice! So you do like it?

J: Works for me!

M: [Hugging him.] Aw. Thanks, Sweetie. You’re so agreeable.

J: I am! I’m muebles-agradable!

M: You are! You’re furniture-agreeable!

Of course, John is agreeable about more than just furniture, but I’m truly grateful for this willingness in him. I’ve watched enough decor television to know that when both people in the couple have strong preferences, the process can be sticky and even painful. Speaking of which: We have a small front yard. I want a succulent garden. John wants fruit trees. What happens next? I think we hire a landscape person to somehow give us both?