I am a terrible influence on my friends.
I don't mean that to sound as though I show up their doorsteps with three gallons of white lightning, a bong and a stack of Pink Floyd CD's or anything (although come to think of it… but college was such a long time ago…). I'm not the girl your parents warned you about. I went to Catholic schools, I've been the designated driver more times than I can count, and I don't advocate risky behavior.
Except when it comes to interior decorating.
I myself am a reckless interior decorator. I've had lavender walls, deep blue plush carpets, wallpaper with cats on it - and I've chosen these items myself. It's not as if former tenants who were legally blind thrust them upon me.
The trick with interior decorating in ways that defy the conservative Laura Ashley's of the world is to do it with the utmost confidence. You can't hang wallpaper covered with black paw prints just willy-nilly. You have to do it with style and flair. When I did the cat wallpaper room, I only papered 3 walls. The wall with the window I left blank and just painted white. Then I put the paw print paper on the smallest wall, the one with the closet (also painted white). The other two walls got the matching wallpaper with the actual abstract cats printed on it. The room looked bigger and brighter when it was done, and the people who eventually bought the house from me loved that room in particular (as did their daughters).
I should pause here for a moment and give a huge shout-out to my mom, who actually did the vast majority of the wallpapering (for "vast majority", read "all"). I kept trying to help, but when my mom starts wallpapering, she doesn't want assistance. She's a wallpapering machine, people. She's fast and she's really good at it. She'll fill all your wallpapering needs.
Well, all my wallpapering needs, anyway. If you want to wallpaper, go get your own mom.
My lavender bedroom is another case in point. The paint wasn't really deep lavender - just a tinted white color. More tint than white, but I think you know what I mean. But again, you can't just slap lavender paint on the walls and then expect your sheets and comforter to play nice if they're bright orange or something. You have to do a little coordinating. So, one set of dark grape sheets, a comforter with a grape leaf pattern and a bed skirt later, everything tied together without looking like you'd just stepped into the halls of Earnest and Julio Gallo.
This is the basic principle behind all those home make-over shows that are the rage right now. Take a risk. Try something new. Be creative. And if it doesn't work out, you can always paint over it. This isn't heart surgery. Lord knows I've taken a lot of chances and they've always worked. In my current house, the safari half-bath is a stunning success and while I don't encourage everyone to run out and start staple gunning fake foliage to their ceiling, I'm always supportive of self-expression.
Which is how I can be such a terrible influence on my friends.
My newly single buddy Brat is on a home decorating binge. I love this kind of situation because if there's anything better than spending unholy amounts of money on your own home, it's helping your friends do it for theirs. That way you don't get the credit card bill but you have the satisfaction of the decision making part of the thing.
So Brat had done all this research online and knew exactly what she wanted to get for linens. She'd picked out a comforter and sheets and everything. Ok, fine. But then she made the ultimate error, the miscalculation that has irrevocably changed the course of her life forevermore.
She invited me to go shopping with her.
I think technically she invited me to go buying with her because she already knew exactly what she wanted. I, however, am immune to the desires of others and therefore flounced through Bed, Bath and Beyond making all sorts of inappropriate suggestions and deriding a full fifty percent of her selections.
But I did it with love.
It was when we got to the bedding section that things Went Crazy. Somehow a faux mink throw caught my eye, leading me to the back of the store where the most slut-tastic bed in the universe was on display. I'm not kidding here, folks. This baby was decked out in microsuede pillow shams, a furry tiger stripe duvet cover, the faux mink throw, a shaggy black pillow - everything your average brothel client would want in a bed.
I fell into immediate and unrepentant love. And thus began my quest to get Brat to buy the Ho Bed.
It was an uphill battle from the start. Brat was so opposed to the Ho Bed as to make captured and tortured French resistance fighters proud. It was a definite no-go. I pestered her through the rest of the store, pointing out all the benefits of the accoutrements ("But you wanted a cat, right? You could pet the pillow instead and that's better for your allergies!!") but she was unyielding. We left the store with a comforter covered in glow-in-the-dark stars (don't even start. I didn't pick that one out at all. That was the one Brat passed up the Ho Bed for, my friends).
But I'm not so easily cowed. I continued my push for the Ho Bed throughout dinner and into the next evening (there was a break there for sleeping and Brat's attendance at work but I was pretty much a one-note song during waking hours). The night after the initial Bed, Bath and Beyond shopping trip, Brat had decided that she didn't like the glow-in-the-dark star-covered comforter (you should go onto her site and congratulate her right now. I'll wait) but had, sadly moved into solid primary color territory.
Ever the good friend, I accompanied her to the mall and watched her plunk down her hard-earned cash for a plain red comforter. My heart was breaking but I'm nothing if not supportive. Whatever was going to make her happy. Although I knew in that place inside me that knows what's best for everyone in my life (I call it The Bossy-Pants Place) that the thing that would make her happiest would be the Ho Bed.
I'm here to tell you that my persistence did, in fact, pay off. As we drove back from the mall Brat began to cave. She wasn't feeling the plain red comforter love anymore. The deep, primal call of Ho Bed was starting to get to her. Because if you can't have a Ho Bed when you're newly single, you can never, ever have a Ho Bed. And while some people would claim that, in fact, that's a good thing, those people are very very wrong. Everyone needs to have a Ho Bed, or the metaphorical equivalent, at some point in their lives. And this? Is Brat's time.
So today we went out and bought the Ho Bed (well, the linens for the Ho Bed. And Brat did the actual buying). Faux mink throw and all. It's going to be gorgeous, people. Gorgeous in the way that only a fake tiger fur duvet cover can be.
Which is pretty damn gorgeous.
I tried to convince her to buy one of those mosquito net things for over the Ho Bed but she wouldn't go for it and I didn't want to push my luck. I know when my job is complete and I've helped my friends get over their own conservative interior decorating humps. I know when enough is enough and I just need to back off, allowing my friends to grow and blossom in their own personal ways, the ways that work best for them.
I'll start working on the mosquito net thing next week.
- KNP February 8, 2004