My father hated change. My mother loved to redecorate. What could possibly go wrong?
There were lots of fights about decorating in my house growing up. Constantly. My mother won, but it could get surprisingly unpleasant before then – not to mention very loud. My father would shout that all decorating was too expensive and totally unnecessary, no matter how long it had been since the room had been fixed up. He was morally opposed to changing anything. Ever. Not a faded chair, a broken lamp, peeling wallpaper.
My mother tried to mollify him in many ways. She tried to involve my father in the decision-making process. She tried to give him control over the decorating choices so as to make the change less jarring for him. Nothing worked.
Eventually my mother instituted the blitzkrieg form of decorating, which I call passive-aggressive decorating. Here’s how it worked.
We spent every summer in our house in Connecticut so the New York apartment was vacant for three months., which also meant that the Connecticut house was vacant for nine months.
My mother used her time well. She carefully made all her plans for redecorating a room in New York without telling my father. She chose the furniture, the wall color or paper, fabric for the upholstered pieces. She picked out every lamp, piece of art and chatchkah. Then, when my father was safely in Connecticut for the summer, she’d have the workmen swoop in. They would completely redo the room, top to bottom. One year, the walls in the study went from beige grasscloth to a bold fabric with a deep red background and large, bright-colored flowers.
My father would leave one room in June and come back to a completely different room in September. He would scream and yell about how he hated change. He would excoriate my mother about her ridiculous obsession with redecorating. He would get all of this out of his system in one big explosion – and then it was over. After that, he would become gradually used to the ‘new’ room. Then, ten or so years later, when it got changed again, he would rant and rave about the loss of the old ‘new’ room.
The process was reversed when it came to the house in Connecticut. When Dad said goodbye to the New England house in September, my mother had until June to do a complete make-over on one of the rooms in the house. The same scene would occur there when Dad discovered the bi-annual treachery.
After which, all would be calm. Until the next time.
The New York apartment had 11 rooms and the Connecticut house had 10. So this went on every year, twice a year, for thirty years! It’s a pretty dramatic way to get a new sofa or bedroom set. But Mom was persistent. She did what she had to do. Both homes were beautiful, warm, and inviting.
Even Dad thought so. After he stopped yelling.