I was engaging in a bit of therapy the other day, viciously attacking a wallpaper border that had fouled my powder room for far too long.
Die, hideous border, I thought as I peeled and scraped and scrubbed. Die.
It put up a good fight, but I prevailed. My bathroom is now free of treacly rose bouquets tied with ribbons, although they live on in the adjacent laundry room — at least until the next time I need to vent my aggression.
I shouldn’t be so snobby. Roses have never been my decorating motif of choice, but I have to concede that Laura Ashley look was enormously popular in the ‘80s, when the border probably went up. Whoever chose it probably made that little powder room the height of bathroom fashion at the time.
Heck, I recall almost succumbing to a teal fabric with a cabbage rose print for some window valances I was planning to make back then. Thankfully I came to my senses.
It’s funny the way tastes change and home styles come and go. The first couch my husband and I bought as newlyweds was mauve with a teeny country print, which at the time was oh-so-trendy but today wouldn’t be permitted through my front door. It was replaced by a sofa in an oversize blue-and-cream check that went nicely with the folk-art cow and sheep prints on the wall. Now that sofa is in the basement, and the prints have long ago gone to Goodwill.
A couple of weeks ago I was watching one of those house-hunting TV shows in which a 30-ish prospective buyer poked fun at a black-and-white tile floor. It was exactly like the one we’d put in the bathroom of our first house.
And you know what? The buyer was right. That floor screamed 1990.
I’ve been around long enough to have watched any number of styles come and go — country, Southwestern, Victorian, art deco. I’ve seen sponge painting and rag rolling rise and fall like Paris Hilton’s popularity. I’ve seen muted colors make way for jewel tones and then go right back to muted again.
Lately I’ve found myself longing to live on the set of Mad Men, with all that tailored upholstery and clean-lined Scandinavian style. Yet not so many years ago, I snickered at the midcentury modern look. Starburst clocks and amoeba-shaped coffee tables were dusty relics of my childhood, I thought, cliches that bordered on the comical.
I know I’m susceptible to the whims of fashion, but I think I’m like most people in that regard. We crave the new, the fresh, the different. And in our affluent society, that desire for change is accelerated because we can afford to replace things not when they wear out, but when we tire of them.
I don’t think it’s about keeping up with the Joneses. I think it’s about responding to our own joneses.
So now I’m in the process of choosing paint colors and other decorative elements for my powder room, knowing full well that I’m influenced by what I see in stores and on the pages of magazines.
Someday, I suppose, whoever lives in my house will chuckle at my taste as he or she paints over the taupe I think I’ve settled on for the walls and rips out the new travertine vanity top I treasure.
Those things will be just so 2013.