I Didn’t get it from my Mother

   As long as I can remember, I have been interested in interior design. When I was 10, I redecorated my bedroom in a celestial theme. We bought wallpaper that had small stars in primary colors scattered on a white background. I spray painted my old dresser in a light blue, and replaced the old knobs with clear glass orbs. My mom made me a quilt of stars that matched the wallpaper, and I displayed my Astronaut Cabbage Patch Kid prominently. I re-decorated my bedroom every couple of years growing up, and my DIY ingenuity always baffled my mom.
   My mother was creative, and crafty. She sewed, decorated cakes, made macrame pot hangers, knit, crocheted, and did needlework. You would think that decorating would be a natural extension. For her, it was not.
   Maybe it was because she grew up in cramped city apartments, but the art of laying out furniture in a room was beyond her scope. Our house was the typical single story ranch of our neighborhood. I had been in half a dozen of our neighbors houses- similar layouts but arranged much more conveniently. Our house had the added bonus of a family room addition.
    At that time, the only other houses I had seen with both a living and family room had set the living room up as a formal space. Ours was a good sized living room open to the small dining room. It had a nice, big window and a fireplace that had been converted from wood to gas. All of my neighbors settled a couch under the window.
   Not my mom. She shoved the scratchy second hand sofa against the wall, so far away from the fireplace that it couldn’t be enjoyed. There was no coffee table opposite it, or armchairs to flank it. Sofa shoved against one wall, bookshelf shoved against another, random chairs in the opposite corners, too far from the couch to make eye contact much less carry on a conversation.
   I always knew that I had a talent for arranging furniture that my mother did not have. What I didn’t understand was why she did not ask me for help. Surely she must realize that there are other places to put furniture than against walls?
   The family room is just as bad as the living room, in all of its incarnations. At this point, I don’t think my mother considers the fact that anyone will ever be in the house besides them. She told me that my dad was concerned about having furniture under the air conditioning unit, which I didn’t quite understand. That a/c unit has been there for years and it has never been an issue. So, they decided to move the family room furniture. The family room is a large room- three times the size of my own living room ( in which I fit a good sized TV on a long buffet, a bookcase, a desk and chair, entryway cabinet, two small side chairs, a square coffee table, and a loveseat). The family room has been mostly unused space for years- the TV on a small stand, two recliners shoved into opposite corners ( each with a side table), and an old futon against the wall.
   As you can imagine, the futon is the only place for guests to sit. When I stay with them for work ( which is a regular occurrence), this is where I watch TV with them in the evenings. My mother informed me today that they put the TV into the corner and their recliners under the window. They got rid of the futon, because it had nowhere to go. She does not believe in free standing furniture.
   My sister invited us to meet her and her fiancee at mom and dad’s this weekend to celebrate her birthday. There will be four extra people in the house. We will have to stand in the kitchen because there is now nowhere to sit, the living room sofa being long gone. We will be staying overnight, and now my daughter has nowhere to sleep. She will have to sleep on the floor or crowd into the double bed with me. Thanks mom, for making your home as unwelcoming as possible for us. I always knew that I didn’t get my design sense from you.


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