Home Guru

Stale Can Be a Dirty Word in Home Decoration

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By Bill Primavera

There are lots of synonyms for the word stale, and none of them are pretty. Cliche, stereotyped, tired, hackneyed, trite, boring, commonplace, shopworn.

Do these descriptors spell a living environment that you’ve known or experienced?

By comparison, consider the word’s antonyms: fresh, new, original, novel and exciting. Surely, we would all prefer the latter in our immediate living environments. But how to achieve it?

To me, the quickest way to determine if you’re living in a stale environment is if you no longer really see and appreciate it. It’s just there in what should be center stage.

Here are ways to avoid being stale.

Quickest and most effective is summed up in one word: rearrange. I know that this can be the hardest thing to do, especially after your furniture has created permanent indentations in the carpeting. But, changing the angle of a sofa or rearranging paintings on a wall can do the trick.

The most dramatic change my wife and I effected in our former home was simply to remove all the drapery dressing out windows to let the light stream in. For years, we had championed the beauty of heavy drapery to decorate windows. We further filtered light by having sheer curtains between heavy panels of curtains that we bragged about dating back to the Civil War. Really.

History has its place, but not when it’s creating a stultified living environment. We rebelled.

Today, living at Trump Park on the fifth floor (the top level), we delight in naked windows looking out on a thicken of trees, enjoying their rhythm and sway when the wind blows.

We have collected oil paintings for many years to display on the walls of our great room. On one wall, we have historical portraits. Some guests have asked if they’re our ancestors, like shown in my favorite television program, “Finding Your Roots.”

But, no, they are complete strangers who all had their portraits done in oil or watercolor, prior to the use of photography. I have a special feeling for the characters depicted. It seems to me that their families must have died out, or less surely, those portraits would have been treasured by descendants, if they still existed. I’ve enjoyed adopting them and I’m thinking about rearranging their positions, just to give a new perspective and to keep it fresh.

On the opposite wall, decorating our dining area, we have still-life paintings and landscapes, which transport us to foreign places to which we’ve never been. Connecting those two walls is the wall of windows that share nature with us.

But wait, here’s a suggestion, perhaps obvious, to avoid staleness that involves the sense of smell:  try spray scents. They can be transporting. My wife and I bought a can of potpourri spray in a shop in Colonial Williamsburg where we spent our honeymoon and, whenever we use it, we experience sweet memories of that special period in our lives.

I remember once when a museum curator told me that his mentor had taught him how to “see” rather than just “look.” That can be good advice in assessing our living environments and considering change where it might expedite and enhance that process.

Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest-running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com, specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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