This morning, when I probably should have been doing something work-related, I was instead browsing Amazon.com. I was doing a general perusal of design books when I stumbled upon one entitled Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life: How to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc… and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place. The book’s title is nearly as long-winded and cluttered as many of the spaces depicted within it. Written and photographed by Ralph Lauren’s vice president for advertising, Mary Randolph Carter, the book appears to brim over with her self-professed “junker” style. Now, I might not define myself as a “junker” per se— many of the images depicted in the book show a level of disarray that my obsession-riddled brain would simply not tolerate— but I have been sympathetic to the junker cause as of late. This is mostly because I have moved in with my significant other and his style veers toward the opposite end of the clutter-lover spectrum. While clutter irks me just as much as any other uptight gay with a so-called “eye for design,” perfectly curated clutter (to quote Anna Dorfman) does not. I love collections. I love mismatched art hung in a jumbled grid on a wallpapered surface. I love “pops” and even retina-assaulting explosions of color. I’ll be the first to admit that my personal style seems like it’s been ripped out of a hipster’s wet dream (or an Urban Outfitters catalogue, but those are one and the same). And guess what? I love it!
Still, Daniel does not. And I respect that. Daniel’s style is cultured, modern, and refined. He likes neatly tucked edges, sober white walls, and furniture that looks like it’s been curated from a design history textbook. If I were to encapsulate Daniel’s design sense into a tiny pixelated circle, it would look like this:
On the other hand, if my design sense were similarly condensed, it would probably resemble something like this:
There’s loud color! There’s turquoise! There’s a bird on it! It looks like Pier 1 ate too much wicker and shit all over fifth avenue! My style tends to follow a no-rules approach (for examples, see my old living room and bedroom). I blame this aesthetic preference on my sheer inability to wait for anything. You know that expression that it’s like waiting for paint to dry? That’s how EVERYTHING is for me (even waiting for paint to dry). Although I like a sensibly decorated, perfectly feng shuied, zen living space as much as everybody else, my total lack of patience has led me to adapt this somewhat zany approach which, in an attempt to rationalize it, I labeled as some kind of mutant hybrid between shabby chic and postmodern/retro/throwback. It worked for me.
Not everybody can tolerate a drug-free acid trip every time they step over the threshold of a room, though, and that is perfectly understandable. Luckily for Daniel, I have been more than cooperative with eradicating most of my so-called “twee” knickknacks from our new apartment. (You know, aside from my vintage bottle collection, an abnormal amount of non-functioning clocks, a few paintings of animals, and a giant metal letter “X.”) I’ve always tried to be somebody who can adapt easily and Daniel, with his impeccable (albeit obsessively stubborn) tastes, has made the transition especially easy. I’ve been officially banned from helping to paint the new place (Daniel did not like my no-rules approach when it came to painting my last apartment), but this has so far not been a problem.
The only problem that I foresee is losing my sense of self, something that Apartment Therapy’s guide to moving in together warned strongly against. This is why, despite my kind, loving, wonderful, and unparalleled level of tolerance for Daniel’s dictatorial design approach, I tried to keep at least a part of my foot in the door. When I saw Mary Randolph Carter’s book on Amazon, I immediately placed it in my cart and pressed purchase.